A history of caring

The first organisation of its kind in Australia, VACCA has worked to protect the rights of vulnerable Aboriginal families and children since 1976. VACCA was born of an urgent concern in the Victorian Aboriginal community about the large number of Aboriginal children being removed from their families and adopted or fostered into non-Aboriginal families.

Failed adoptive and foster-care arrangements meant many of these young people were homeless and, more importantly, unaware of whom they really were or where their families came from.

Today we are made up of researchers, policy advisors, advocates, child welfare workers, social workers, film makers, artists and musicians.

With 35 years of experience, our organisation and our staff understand what it means for Aboriginal children and young people to feel safe, to realise their cultural identity and what strong family connections mean for the wellbeing of the Aboriginal community in Victoria.

VACCA timeline from the 1970’s to Now

The 1970’s
February 1976  First National Adoption Conference held in Sydney, NSW where Aboriginal Task Force on Aboriginal Community and Adoption recommendation about establishment of the Aboriginal Child Placement Agency was unanimously accepted by the whole conference.
February 1976  Establishment of the Aboriginal Child Placement Agency (ACPA) which operated from the Aboriginal Legal Service at 173 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. Mollie Dyer is appointed the Program Director, Glenda Nicholls its Secretary and  Peter Rotumah its Field Officer.

1977  National Symposium convened by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs ‘The Care and Treatment of Aboriginal Juvenile Delinquents’

15 November 1977  Inaugural meeting to establish the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) as a Co-operative Society. Meeting chaired by Elizabeth Hoffman and Mollie Dyer its Secretary. Directors elected at the meeting were Elizabeth Hoffman, Janice Muir, Mollie Dyer, Phillip Cooper, Ralph White, Bernadette Dawson, Christine Bennett, Greg Lyons and Charlie Dyer
1977  Aunty Marj Tucker’s book ‘If Everyone Cared’ is published.
5 December , 1977   The Aboriginal Child Placement Agency becomes a registered Co-operative Limited renamed the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, the first one of its kind in Australia, operating out of 11 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
January 1978  Grant received from Department of Social Security, Office of Child Care to establish staff [5.5 positions] at VACCA.
1978   Regional meetings held to establish VACCAs regional services
April 1978   VACCA’s first Community Newsletter and Brochure launched. VACCA operates from 4 Brunswick Place, Fitzroy.
May 1979   First VACCA camp for children [9-14 years] to Alice Springs, Northern Territory
1979  Victorian Social Welfare Department publicly acknowledges co-operation and consultation on all matters relating to the placement of Aboriginal children
1979  During International Year of the Child, VACCA and the Commonwealth Office of Child Care convene the first ‘Aboriginal Child Survival National Conference: ‘If Everyone Cared’


The 1980’s
1980      Fundraising Committee established to raise monies for Emergency Relief Payments
November     VACCA Family Camp held at Halls Gap, Victoria
Renowned singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder visits ACCA
1981      National peak body for Aboriginal Child Care Agencies Australia wide is established: Secretariat National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Agencies (SNAICC)
1981 VACCA Family Camp held at Lake Tyers, Victoria
1981     Review of the VACCA
May 1983     Establishment of 2 Family Group Homes in Melbourne which are offered from the Victorian Aboriginal Rental Housing Program managed by the Aboriginal Housing Board of Victoria
1984     Aboriginal Child Placement Principle endorsed
September , 1984 VACCA Camp for children (9-14 years) to Alice Springs, Northern Territory
1986 Sixth International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect
August 1988  National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day established by SNAICC and; supported/organised as one of VACCA’s major community events annually since
1988 VACCA auspices the Wirramina Hostel Youth Crisis Centre
1988 Adoption Caseworker is now changed to Permanent Care Worker
1988 Launch of the Protocol between VACCA and DHS
1993   ATSIC funds VACCA to establish Link-Up Victoria Program
August 1994 VACCA relocates to 34 Wurruk Avenue, Preston
1995   ATSIC fund Link-Up Victoria for 2 more full time position
1995 Presentation of plaques to Life Members – Fay Carter, Mollie Dyer, Ron James and Bobby Nicholls
1996 Review of VACCA by Department of Human Services
July 1997 VACCA offices at Wurruk Avenue, Preston named the Mollie Dyer House
December   VACCA declared an Aboriginal Agency and published in Government Gazette
1998 Establishment of Program Manager Position
1998 VACCA and Edmund Rice Koorie Kids Camp held at Phillip Island, Victoria
November 1999   VACCA’s Child Care Program renamed Lakidjeka Program
1999 VACCA/Edmund Rice Koorie Kids Camp held at Phillip Island, Victoria

December 2000   VACCA’s Wilka Kwe Program established in Southern Region
2000 VACCA funded for Stolen Generations Debriefing Officer Position
2000 VACCA’s first Christmas celebrations for Carers, children young people
2000 Memorandum of Understanding established between VACCA and National Archives Australia
2001 Department of Human Services increase funds for additional 5 positions
2001 VACCA funded to provide Caregiver Training and VACCA database
2001 Launch of Aboriginal Resource and Cultural Guide
2001 Review of the VACCA/DHS Protocol
2001 Children, young people and Carers attend Werribee Open Range Zoo
2002 DHS funds the Lakidjeka Program for the first time and Lakidjeka (ACSASS) launched
2002 VACCA funded for a feasibility study for a proposed “Family Centre”
2002 Launch of renegotiated Protocol between VACCA and DHS
2002 Launch of KKIC N ARP funding by Vic Health
2002 Establishment of Early Intervention & Prevention Programs
2002 Establishment of Parenting and Home Visiting Programs
June 2003 Mollie Dyer’s book ‘Room for One More’ published
6-8 October 2004 VACCA holds the first Victorian Aboriginal Community Child Abuse Conference ‘Families are Forever: Building Them Strong’
2005 VACCA moves to 139 Nicholson Street, East Brunswick
2006 VACCA celebrates 25th year anniversary
2006 $.5m contribution to “Moondani Family Centre”, VACCA’s Family Centre by Cheryl Garbutt, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Children
2006 Commencement of ‘Yarning Up on Trauma’ training with the Take Two Program at Berry Street
2007 VACCA facilitates Aboriginal Community Organisations, Capacity Building Group Network

January 2008 No of staff positions at VACCA number141
2008 VACCA wins DHS tender to develop CSO Registration Standards Cultural Competence Framework
2008 VACCA enters formal partnership with Berry Street and MacKillop Family Services
2008 VACCA finalizes it five year Strategic Plan
4-6 June 2008 VACCA convenes national conference ‘The River of Culture Runs Deep: Learning from Old Ways, Creating a New Approach’
December 2008 Commencement of case contracting as a prelude to Section 18 under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005
2009 Launch of ‘Yarning Up on Trauma’ training booklet with Berry Street
March 2009 Relaunch of Koorie Faces Program
April, 2009 VACCA’s first  Cultural Camp for girls held in Portland. Cultural Camp for boys held in Portland during June/July 2009
July, 2009 VACCA wins DHS tender to roll out training on the CSO Registration Standards Cultural Competence Framework and training of mainstream organisation child and family welfare staff, throughout the state
November, 2009 VACCA wins a VAEAI Wurruker Award for our Staff Wellbeing Program