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Date: Friday 4 October 2019
I wanted to write to you in the wake of the devastating loss of Aboriginal woman, Helena Broadbent, and the heartbreaking circumstances which led her newborn baby to be in a critical condition. Helena was killed in an incident after she was thrown or fell from her car in an incident with her partner – which is being investigated by Victoria Police.
Helena was a mother, daughter, sister, and valued in the Victorian Aboriginal community – and I am deeply saddened by her loss and extend my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.
The circumstances of Helena’s death require thorough investigation and to do this, circumstances of her life and how our justice, family violence and child protection service systems might have done more to prevent her violent death, need to be reviewed.
Women die every week in Australia at the hands of their intimate partner – and it is disturbing that it takes the loss of an Aboriginal women to recognise that we need to explore and learn from how the system has been unable to respond to the needs of those who suffer from family violence. We must assess and improve current approaches to addressing family violence and holding perpetrators to account.
Such incidents don’t occur in isolation, they typically come at the end of a pattern of disrespecting women, of coercion and control, and of physical and other forms of violence. The circumstances surrounding this violent incident are a sobering reminder of the severe impacts of domestic and family violence.
We all have a part to play in ending family violence and it is crucial that within our community we look out for one another and call out domestic and family violence.
Nothing is more important at VACCA than keeping our children, young people and families safe from family violence and other forms of harm.
- Muriel Bamblett AO, VACCA CEO
Date: Friday 3 October 2019
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) has partnered with not-for-profit organisation Food Ladder and the Australian College of Agriculture and Horticulture (ACAH) to launch a new community development program in Melbourne on 12 October 2019.
VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett AO says “We are very excited to partner with Food Ladder and the Australia College of Agriculture and Horticulture over the next twelve months to upskill members of our community through this exciting new program.”
The program will provide nutritional food and job-ready skills to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people using the new Food Ladder system, which is based inside a quarter acre hydroponic food growing system in Werribee South. It will have the capacity to harvest 3,600 crops every three weeks.
Produce grown during from the program will provide much needed food security to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families, as well as help fund the program, with the fruit and vegetables being made available to local restaurants and distributors, and at a pop-up store onsite.
The program will provide the Aboriginal community an opportunity to be involved in a bush food scheme through its focus on growing foods native to the region within the Werribee system and surrounding grounds.
Food Ladder CEO Kelly McJannett is proud to participate and believes that “Not only will it provide the local community with nutritional produce, it will also give Aboriginal participants hands on business experience, from growing and harvesting produce to selling and distributing goods.”
As part of the Food Ladder program, weekly accredited and non-accredited classes will be offered to community members where they can receive a certification in horticulture, as well gain job-ready skills in the agriculture industry.
“Horticulture is both an art and science that embraces technology and sustainability,” Aboriginal people have practiced land use, have an innate understanding of native plants and gardens, land management and regeneration and bring to this partnership an Aboriginal knowledge about and use of native plants of various kinds says ACAH CEO Alvin Gopal.
“This program will provide students with an understanding of basic horticultural practices and an opportunity to learn essential skills such as being able to grow and harvest their own produce sustainably. Graduates can also expect to find employment in entry level roles as a horticultural tradesperson within a nursery, farm or other horticultural enterprise.” adds Alvin.
Participants will be provided with appropriate clothing and equipment to undertake the program, and volunteer drivers will be available to transport participants to and from class, ensuring the initiative is helping those who need it most.
VACCA, Food Ladder and ACAH are committed in their efforts to implement and deliver this initiative as part of VACCA’s Koorie Wellbeing Ways community development project over the next 12 months, as it embodies the principle of Aboriginal self-determination in improving health, wellbeing and safety.
The Food Ladder system in Werribee South, a suburb 32km south-west of Melbourne’s CBD, will be Food Ladder’s first iteration in Victoria, following on from its success in the Northern Territory, India, Uganda and soon Bhutan.
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Date: Tuesday 27 August 2019
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) proudly announces that our Nugel (Aboriginal Guardianship) program and much respected employee Sue-Anne Hunter have been announced as finalists in the 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Awards.
Hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services, these awards recognise excellence, innovation and leadership at the highest standard, and VACCA is honoured to have the work of Nugel and leadership of Sue Anne Hunter recognised.
VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett AO said ‘I am incredibly proud of the two finalists in the Victorian Protecting Children Awards, as this is recognition of the invaluable contributions of our staff both individually and collectively in their work with vulnerable and at-risk children.'
‘Our Nugel program has been an historic achievement for Aboriginal people, and at the forefront of child welfare in Australia, because it establishes a benchmark around the application of the principle of the right of self-determination for Aboriginal people – which justifies its inclusion in this category and being a finalist.’
Nugel was nominated for the Minister’s Awards for Innovation in Protecting Children.
In 2017, Nugel became the first of its kind in Australia, following a landmark transfer of guardianship of Aboriginal children on Children’s Court Orders to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.
Since its inception, Nugel has led the way in developing a new model of child protection practice premised on Aboriginal organisations working in partnership with Aboriginal families.
Nugel works to support children in out-of-home care to be safe and to connect – or stay connected – to their culture.
Muriel adds ‘Sue Anne Hunter, a Wurundjeri woman, has always displayed a genuine passion, commitment and drive to bring about better outcomes for her people throughout her working career at VACCA and is someone who has contributed so much to the sector – I have no doubt she will continue to make important contributions in the future.’
Sue Anne Hunter, who worked with VACCA for 18 years, was announced as a finalist for the Robin Clark Leadership Award.
Inspiring Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal practitioners across the sector, Sue Anne led the development of the Cultural Therapeutic Ways program.
Cultural Therapeutic Ways is an approach to practice which embeds connection and reconnection to culture in all interventions for vulnerable children and families.
Winners of the 2019 Victorian Protecting Children Awards will be announced during National Child Protection Week on 3 September 2019.
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The winners of the inaugural Mollie Dyer Awards were announced today in Melbourne.
Date: 30th November, 2018
In honour of its extraordinary founder, the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) launched three new annual awards honouring an Aboriginal community member, and Aboriginal employee in the sector, and an Aboriginal young person and for their contribution to Aboriginal child and family welfare, particularly children in out-of-home care.
VACCA’s CEO Prof. Muriel Bamblett AM says the awards are a highly positive step for the Aboriginal community: “we established the Mollie Dyer Awards to celebrate Aboriginal people’s excellent work in supporting Aboriginal children, young people and families to feel safe, be strong in their identity and connected to culture and their community across Victoria”.
Presenting the awards to the winners listed below were members of the judging panel including; CEO of VACCA Muriel Bamblett AM, James Atkinson, CEO Rumbalara and Chairperson of VACCA, Justin Mohammed Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People of Victoria, Josh Smith Executive Director of Aboriginal Victoria with the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Aunty Melva Johnson, Winner of the Community Award - is a Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba Elder, and a champion of Aboriginal education and health. She has taken a leading role in setting up community services around Echuca.
Aunty Laura Bell, Winner of the Community Award - a Gunditjmara Elder who works tirelessly for Aboriginal communities across Victoria. Through her ability to inspire and enlighten, she has helped implement educational, legal and cultural initiatives that have improved lives and created opportunities for Aboriginal people.
Aunty Elaine Taylor, Winner of the Community Regional Award – a proud Wemba-Wemba Bunurong woman and foster grandmother, she has been a Director of the Aboriginal Child Care Agency and the Aboriginal Youth Support & Recreation for four years. Aunty Eliane is also a Director of Dandenong & District Aborigines Co-operative. She has a special interest in Family Services and Mental Health.
Lowana Moore, Winner of the Community Regional Award - a proud Wamba Wamba woman. Lowana is the Programs Manager at Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc (VAEAI), where she has worked for over 20 years. Lowana has worked tirelessly in connecting her family who have been part of the OOHC system, through the return to country program.
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Winner of the Community Regional Award - A proud Bangerang and Wiradjuri woman, Geraldine has devoted her career to expanding the possibilities available for Koorie people through education. Geraldine has been the President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association since 1999.
Emma Bamblett, Winner of the Employee Award and a proud Wemba Wemba woman raised in Echuca and living in Melbourne. Emma is the State-Wide Aboriginal Cultural Planning Coordinator. Emma has worked at VACCA for many years, is an acclaimed artist and a strong advocate for the cultural rights of Aboriginal children and young people in Out-of-Home Care.
Nikayla Bamblett, runner up of the Employee Award, works at VACSAL and has spent over a decade working at Aboriginal Community controlled organisations. Nikayla has been a strong advocate for young people her whole life. At 17, she joined the Koorie Youth Council. She strongly believes in giving Aboriginal youth a voice and helping them find their inner power.
Phyllis Rose, runner up of the Employee Award and a proud Gunditjmara and Mutti - Mutti woman. For the last 15 years Phyllis Rose has worked tirelessly for her community within community services to ensure that her community get the supports they need for a better future. Her career began at the League and she has worked at VACCA for five years, she is the Acting Senior Manager for Family Services and Family Violence Program.
The Youth Award winner will not be announced publicly however, we are very proud of their inspirational leadership.
Aunty Mollie Dyer worked tirelessly for the Aboriginal community and in 1976 Mollie, with other Victorian Aboriginal community members founded VACCA, the first Aboriginal-run agency to support Aboriginal children and families. Read more about Mollie’s lifelong achievements here.
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) calls on Victorian Parliament to pass the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill
Date: 31st May 2018
VACCA is an Aboriginal community controlled organisation with forty years of working in the field of child and family services. During this time we have continually advocated for our right to self-determination. Many of our staff, members and Board are Aboriginal and traditional owners in Victoria which is why we support the inclusive nature of the treaty process underway.
"VACCA sees the current Treaty process as a critical step towards achieving self-determination for our communities. The current Bill before Parliament while not a treaty, is an essential step that will set up the representative body, Treaty Authority and self-determination fund. The process will be long and demanding. We must be engaged in this once-in-lifetime opportunity and I urge all Aboriginal people to get involved and be part of the process." - Muriel Bamblett, VACCA CEO.
In February 2016, the Andrews Government, based on its policy of support for Aboriginal self-determination listened to the calls of the Victorian Aboriginal community and committed to working towards a treaty. These calls have echoed through our community since 1788 and this process is long overdue.
The Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 that is to be debated in Parliament next week is a significant step towards achieving self-determination. However, it only maps the process of setting up a representative Aboriginal body. We believe the current Bill is inclusive and a positive statement of intent towards negotiations with Victorian Aboriginal Communities. To date thousands of our people have contributed to the process. The Treaty Advancement Commission has been charged with establishing the Aboriginal Representative Body, and is currently conducting state wide community gatherings. We encourage all Aboriginal Victorians to attend and engage with these important discussions. VACCA recognises and supports the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council as the representative Elders body for Victoria.
When negotiated and settled a treaty will improve the lives of all Victorian Aboriginal people by recognising the past and by providing tangible outcomes to secure a better future. It is about resetting the relationship between Aboriginal people and the wider Victorian community thereby creating a stronger, more unified community. It is about justice and truth telling. As we celebrate Reconciliation Week with the theme of “Don’t keep history a mystery”, our community is reminded of the determination and struggle our Elders, community members and ancestors have fought to get us here today.
Muriel Bamblett, Adjunct Professor AM
It’s What You Don’t See – Awareness raising videos about family violence and it’s impact on Aboriginal children
To be launched by the Hin Jenny Mikakos, Minister for Children and Familiesand CEO of VACCA, Muriel Bamblett
Date: Tuesday 20th of March 2018 at 9.15am for a 9.30am Start
Venue: Arts Centre - Amcor Lounge 100 St Kilda Rd Melbourne VIC 3004
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) is proud launch X new videos about family violence and its impact on children. These videos seek to raise awareness within our community about the affect that violence has on children even when they are not the victims and offers help to families and children.
The videos will be launched by the Minister for Children and Families, the Hon Jenny Mikakos and the VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett.
As a child welfare agency we know that almost ninety percent of Aboriginal children are in care because of family violence.
Sadly, there are many others who are not in care who nevertheless see and feel violence around them.
The impacts of family violence on children and young people are complex.
It can affect their behaviour, their development, their relationships, their emotions, their learning, their thoughts and their physical health.
Some things you might notice in a child or young person could be:
- Poor concentration, aggression, hyperactivity, disobedience, disturbed sleep/nightmares, withdrawal, low self-esteem, showing no emotion (spaced out), always on edge, wary, fantasize about normal home life, pessimism about the future and physical symptoms
- Self-blame, helplessness, grief, fear, dread, terror, worry, sadness, shame, anger & numbness
- Depression, anxiety & withdrawal Experiencing violence in childhood is a significant risk factor for being both a victim and a perpetrator of violence in adulthood
The videos are available on our VACCA youtube channel.
We Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations
13th February 2018
Ten years after the release of “Bringing Them Home” (1997) the Human Rights Commission Report of its Enquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, in 2008, Kevin Rudd, the newly elected Prime Minister of Australia apologized to those who were affected by the removal policies, saying,
"To the Stolen Generations, I say the following: as Prime Minister of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the government of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the parliament of Australia, I am sorry. I offer you this apology without qualification.
We apologise for the hurt, the pain and suffering that we, the parliament, have caused you by the laws that previous parliaments have enacted. We apologise for the indignity, the degradation and the humiliation these laws embodied.
We offer this apology to the mothers, the fathers, the brothers, the sisters, the families and the communities whose lives were ripped apart by the actions of successive governments under successive parliaments. "
(Extract from the speech made by Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2008)
This apology, part of a package of recommended responses in cases of gross violations of human rights (the van Boven principles1), was acknowledgement for the deliberate destruction caused by successive governments to our peoples and cultures across the nation. It was affirmation to all the Stolen Generations, both living and passed for the hurt and the damage caused to them and their families just because of the color of their skin. It was, we believe the start of a new beginning in race relations in this country. A beginning that was now based on the truth about what happened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families, communities across Australia from the mid 1800’s to the 1970’s.
Regrettably, the apology was the only one of a small number of the 54 recommendations in “Bringing Them Home” that has been implemented in the 20 years since its publication. In commemorating this 10th anniversary we call on governments to address this glaring neglect. We pay our respects to the Stolen Generations and their families, to those that made it home, to those still searching and to those who rest in the Dreaming with their Ancestors and families.
1 Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
Removal of first Mortgage on Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Property Advances Self-determination
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) was today the beneficiary of the removal of the Government-held mortgage over its property in Preston.
The process of the mortgage removal was facilitated through Aboriginal Victoria’s First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure program which aims to strengthen the economic capacity and sustainability of Aboriginal organisations to move towards self-determination.
The removal of the mortgage was welcomed by the Vice Chairperson of VACCA, Mr Jason King who said,
"The transfer of the property title to VACCA and the community through us, is an important symbolic step. It acknowledges that we can manage our own affairs in a way that is transparent and accountable. Forty years on from the year we were set up is a sufficient time for a demonstration of our viability and sustainability as an organisation.
For our community, it signals further strengthening of our institutions. It is a practical expression of the meaning of self-determination when we can make decisions about the management of our property rights as an organisation for the benefit of our clients and community."
The CEO of VACCA, Muriel Bamblett AM, thanked the Andrew’s Government and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon Natalie Hutchins who announced the removal of the mortgage the VACCA property at a special ceremony today, adding “They understand why this is important for our community and how this acknowledges in a small but significant way, our connection to the land we all live on today.”
For comment or interviews contact Nigel D’Souza 0400 978 015