Jill Gallagher, AO is a proud Gunditjmara woman from Western Victoria. Jill has spent more than 20 years advancing Aboriginal health and wellbeing through her work with VACCHO. Jill has been instrumental in helping VACCHO grow a team of over 100, providing support to 32 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across the state. As a respected Aboriginal leader who has dedicated her life to advocating for Community, Jill has been inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women (2009), awarded the Order of Australia (2013), and inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll (2015). From 2016 to 2019, Jill served as Victoria’s first Treaty Advancement Commissioner.
Since VACCHO’s inception in 1996, the organisation has grown from a grassroots collective staffed by just three people to a large and complex organisation made up of seven units. Over the years, VACCHO has responded to the needs of the Community-controlled health sector by expanding our capacity in the areas of training and development, advocacy, health research and evidence, health promotion, engagement with Community, government and stakeholders, and business support. In 2021, VACCHO reached a milestone of 100 staff for the first time in the organisation’s 25-year history. Across the seven units that make up VACCHO, we have staff from different disciplines with varied skillsets, and with a range of perspectives and life experiences.
VACCHO is at heart, and by constitution, a Community-controlled organisation. Respect for Culture, Community and Country is fundamental to what we do as an organisation and who we are as individuals. We seek to nurture a trusting, respectful and inclusive culture, where staff are proud of their work, empowered to succeed and their wellbeing and safety are respected.
VACCHO Declares Renaming Maroondah Hospital After Queen Elizabeth II a Step Backwards The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) are extremely disappointed to learn of Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews’ plans to rename Maroondah hospital after Queen Elizabeth II.
While VACCHO welcomes plans to rebuild and expand Maroondah Hospital – we are deeply insulted by the decision to rename the facility in honour of the Crown. Replacing an Aboriginal derived word ‘Maroondah’ (an Aboriginal word meaning “throwing” and “Maroon” meaning “leaves”) with the name of the former Queen of the United Kingdom is a significant step backwards. At a time when important progress is being made towards Treaty and a Voice to Parliament, the lack of consultation around the name change is a disheartening move and puts a question mark on the commitment of governments to walk with First Peoples. The disappointing name change comes on the back of the Federal Government’s insensitive decision to ask us to mourn a person who represented an empire that took so much from First Peoples. This week’s day of mourning is yet another insult when Aboriginal people have been advocating to declare January 26 a day of mourning for decades.
Almost 250 years since the colonisation of Aboriginal lands started – lands that were stolen and never given up – our people continue to experience devastating impacts at the hands of a system designed to eradicate not only our people but also our culture. Deaths in custody, intergenerational trauma, higher rates of mental illness, higher rates of chronic disease, institutionalised racism, and barriers to access in health and aged care services are just some of the major disadvantages being experienced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. VACCHO and 32 Community controlled health organisations across the state fight hard to remove these barriers and provide culturally safe care every day. Naming a major hospital after Queen Elizabeth II adds yet another barrier for the Aboriginal community – and undoes the decades of work VACCHO and Members have done to create inviting, culturally safe spaces.
VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher has described the proposed name change as deeply hurtful and upsetting to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Victoria. “Whilst we are surrounded by British culture in this country - Aboriginal culture, and the Aboriginal way of life is almost invisible.” “There are already countless statues, landmarks and venue names, dedicated to colonial-era British people. There are two entire states named after Queens. The capital of Victoria is named after a British Prime Minister – it never ends” “This is a time when our society is in desperate need for increased recognition of Aboriginal leaders, words, and culture.” “Renaming the Maroondah hospital will see yet another piece of our culture erased and replaced by the culture of the invaders.” “Culture needs to be seen and understood as a protective and healing factor for Aboriginal people. Anything that takes away from our culture has detrimental impacts on the health and wellbeing of our people.”
VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 32 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 25,000 Aboriginal people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.