As we wrap up another year at VACCA, now is the perfect time to reflect on what we have achieved throughout 2019. It has been a year of countless achievements and we look forward to the new year with our community.
From celebrating Voice. Treaty. Truth for NAIDOC with our children, young people, families and community; to launching a new community development project with Food Ladder to help create new job opportunities; to our Nugel program being recognised in the DHHS Victorian Protecting Children's Awards; to establishing a new office in Wangaratta to help engage and strengthen our connections in the Ovens Murray region.
Here is an overview of some of our achievements for the year:
January: Our CEO, Prof. Muriel Bamblett, was awarded an Order of Australia
On 26 January, our CEO Muriel Bamblett was awarded an Order of Australia for her services and contribution to the community, and in particular her work with Aboriginal children and families.
Speaking on the day, Muriel said, "I am pleased to receive this award. I am so proud of the work that we do with children in care. This award is an acknowledgement and recognition of the collective work that we all do and have achieved here at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency."
Supported the work of treaty
This year we progressed our support of treaty through engagement and research activities, which saw us publish our discussion paper on treaty, self-determination and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Services sector.
We hosted a number of yarning circles and morning teas for our staff to better understand what treaty is and encouraged staff to be engaged throughout the treaty process.
Our CEO Muriel Bamblett was also elected as a member of the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria, who met for the first on 10 December 2019.
Image: First Peoples' Assembly meeting at Parliament House. Credit: Joseph Dunstan, ABC News
Supported staff in further studies
During the year we supported a number of our staff in completing their studies in a range of courses, including a Diploma in Community Services and Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy.
As we undertake work critical to the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and the broader community, professional development of our staff is a priority - and we are proud of what they have been able to achieve.
Image: Nine staff who completed their Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy
July: NAIDOC Week - VOICE. TREATY. TRUTH
Each year we celebrate NAIDOC Week as it is a significant time for our children, young people, families and community to come together and celebrate culture.
This year we hosted NAIDOC Children and Family Days across our regions, which involved a range of cultural activities based on the theme Voice. Treaty. Truth.
These were wonderful events which saw over 2000 community members attend.
Image: From the Northern Children and Family Day
July: Team VACCA participate in Run Melbourne
Team VACCA participated in Run Melbourne and helped successfully raised money for our Cultural Programs. It was our second year participating in the event and we are looking forward to Run Melbourne 2020.
Find out more about how you can help here.
August - September: Nugel awarded in the 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Awards
We are proud that our Nugel program was awarded the Minister's Award for Innovation in the DHHS Protecting Children at the 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Awards.
Our Nugel (Aboriginal Guardianship) program has been at the forefront of child welfare progress in Australia, and we are honoured to have won the highly regarded award.
Sue-Anne Hunter, who worked with VACCA for 18 years, also received a High Commendation for the prestigious Robin Clark Leadership Award. Sue-Anne led the development of our Cultural Therapeutic Ways program; an approach to practice which embeds connection and reconnection to culture in all interventions for vulnerable children and families.
October: Launch of community development project with Food Ladder and ACAH Demonstration Farm
We partnered with Food Ladder and Australian College of Agriculture and Horticulture (ACAH) in a new community development project that will give 24 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 years and over the opportunity to complete a Certificate II & III in Agriculture and Horticulture.
To celebrate the program was launched at an open day on 12 October 2019 at the ACAH demonstration farm in Werribee.
November: Official launch of our Ovens Murray office in Wangaratta
After setting up our Ovens Murray office in Wangaratta in late 2018, we celebrated the official launch in November inviting the broader community to join our celebrations.
Through establishing the office over the previous 12 months, we have been able to strengthen our engagement and connections within the Aboriginal community in the Ovens Murray region and are excited for what the future holds.
Our Wangaratta office has grown in many ways including an increase in supporting families and clients within the region; increasing from six to 17 staff; and doubled in our program offerings including Lakidjeka, Integrated Family Services, Kinship First Supports and Out-of-home care services, Family Violence Therapeutics, Better Futures, and Home stretch.
Ran cultural camps and other cultural activities across our regions
We delivered a number of programs to strengthen culture within our communities, including: Art Mentoring Programs, Narrun Yana, Koorie Tiddas Choir, and Cultural Camps.
These continue to see an increase in community engagement.
December: Hosted special Christmas events
This year we hosted a number of Christmas events across our regions for children and young people in care and our other programs.
These were wonderful events which brought the community together. Children were also provided the opportunity to have a photo with Koorie Santa.
Image: From our Wangaratta Christmas event
Our 2019 Christmas Gift Appeal
In the lead up to the Christmas events, we had our Christmas Gift Appeal which helped us gather over 2500 gifts to give out during our events.
We are grateful for the contributions we have received and want to thank everyone for their invaluable efforts.
Image: Present drop off point at Triple R