Why is this important?
There are many and varying factors that have contributed to the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Local government has a particularly important role in the maintenance and improvement of the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people and communities.
Many local councils provide and/or fund services that support improved wellbeing, including Home and Community Care, maternal and child health, child care, kindergarten and immunisation.
In addition, councils are required, through the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, to protect, improve and promote public health and wellbeing within their municipality, and to produce a Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan every four years (see the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan).
Councils also prepare more targeted plans such as Municipal Early Years Plans that can support the development of Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plans. (Read more here).
Koolin Balit is a Victorian Government strategy that commits the health system to improve the length and quality of life of Aboriginal people in Victoria by 2022. Further statistics about Aboriginal health in Victoria are available here.
Local governments are therefore well placed to positively influence the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Victoria.
What can your council do?
The 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey found that more than half of councils include Aboriginal specific strategies, commitments or initiatives in one or more key documents such as Council Plans and Municipal Public Health Plans.
- Work with the local Aboriginal community to identify actions for inclusion in Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plans that support improved outcomes in Aboriginal health and wellbeing
- Develop partnerships with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in delivering health and wellbeing services.
- Develop targeted actions for creating healthier communities as part of Healthy Together Victoria initiative in partnership with Aboriginal and community health organisations and other community groups.
- Keep informed on statewide and national health strategies that impact Aboriginal families and communities, strategies such as the following:
Case Study | Yarra City Council
Using an holistic approach helps to improve Aboriginal health outcomes
In an effort to enhance municipal public health planning and delivery to improve health and well-being outcomes for Aboriginal communities, City of Yarra has found an holistic approach which works by combining Aboriginal community recognition and acceptance in the delivery and sustainability of health and wellbeing.
Yarra’s Aboriginal Partnerships Officer and proud Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Colin Hunter, along with Special Projects Officer, Daniel Ducrou, shared the inspiring work that has taken place to better engage Aboriginal communities through reconciliation, self-determination and closing the gap for health and wellbeing.
Read the full story here
- Using an Aboriginal self-determination approach to develop council policies, programs and services should be guided by the preferences and aspirations of Aboriginal communities about what these policies and programs should deliver.
- Engagement best practice should make use of the formal and informal partnerships that already exist between councils, local Aboriginal organisations and networks and community health organisations.
- Employing Elders in council roles facilitates voice and connection to community, enabling council to work closely with Traditional Owners as well as the local Aboriginal community. Remuneration for knowledge and expertise is essential, as is ensuring such positions are well supported by council.
Last Updated: April 12, 2021 at 4:20 pm