Jill Gallager AO is the CEO of VACCHO and the former Treaty Advancement Commissioner. she is a Gunditjmara woman from western Victoria who has worked within, led and advocated for the Victorian Aboriginal community all her life.
Jill speaks with Grant Hansen on Balit Dhumba about the Treaty process and is proud of the work done by the Victorian Aboriginal people and feels Treaty is getting closer by the day.
As CEO since 2001, Jill has exacted a major change in the organisation's status, by working to raise its profile and highlight its pivotal role in addressing Aboriginal health issues. Jill's work was instrumental in achieving bipartisan support for the 'Statement of Intent' signed by the Premier in August 2008 on behalf of the state Government to 'Close the Gap' in Aboriginal life expectancy. Jill says that for her community to achieve its full potential, issues such as health problems must be identified and addressed.
Jill has developed comprehensive Well Persons Health Checks, which are run across Victoria and a Koori Maternity Services Program, which began in 2000 to help Aboriginal women access pregnancy services and information. In 2007-08 about 200 babies were born to mothers who had accessed the program.
Given that VACCHO is not a service delivery agency, a key focus of Jill's work is linking with other agencies to deliver programs: "We believe if we are going to achieve anything we need to work with others. We try to develop good relationships."
As well as tackling health issues, Jill is passionate about Aboriginal culture, and her people, being valued. "When you look at all the tourism ads for Victoria and Australia, they never talk about Australia having one of the oldest cultures in the world. Why don't we value that?"
Prior to her work at VACCHO, Jill was a member of the Museum of Victoria and worked for the return of Indigenous skeletal remains and Indigenous cultural property. She has also sat on various committees including the Victorian Early Childhood Development Advisory Committee, the Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria Indigenous Reference Group, the Child Death Review and the Cooperative Research Centre on Aboriginal Health.