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Media releases

Inaugural Mollie Dyer Awards Winners Announced

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

Contact: For enquiries, please email


VACCA calls on Victorian Parliament

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

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.

10th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations

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 VACCA Property

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material. To listen to our Acknowledgement of Country, click here.