8th September, 2014 | Kiran and I spent a most interesting day with Professor Ian Anderson, Pro Vice Chancellor (Engagement) and Professor Kerry Arabena, Chair for Indigenous Health and Director, Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit. Ian was one of our first medical graduates from the aboriginal community; he worked in Aboriginal Health for more than 25 years prior to joining Melbourne University’s senior leadership team in 2012.
Kerry, a former social worker with a doctorate in human ecology, has an extensive background in public health, administration, community development and research, working in senior roles in indigenous policy and sexual health.
Our first visit was to the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), established in 1973 to address the specific medical needs of Victorian indigenous communities. VAHS is committed to supporting the well-being of the Aboriginal community through contributions to community events and activities, and to assisting research into their ongoing needs.
In our meeting with Graham (“Wilkie”) Austin and Dr Mary Belfrage, Medical Director, we discussed the similarities between the breadth of VAHS’s services– social as well as medical–and the range of services provided by Asha, which have expanded so successfully from primary health to property rights to access to banking services and education.
The second meeting was to SNAICC, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care where we met Frank Hytten, CEO, and a number of the management team members.