NACCHO congratulates JILL Gallagher VACCHO CEO Order of Australia: improving outcomes in Aboriginal health


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JILL Gallagher is humbled by her Order of Australia for  distinguished service to Victoria’s indigenous community.

But she’s not about to rest on her laurels. There’s still a  lot of work to be done.

As head of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled  Health Organisation for the past 12 years, she has seen her people face  increasingly dire health challenges since she joined the organisation in  1992.

”Chronic disease is a huge problem, tobacco is one of  them, diabetes is a huge issue and when you look at Victoria you’ve got a lot of  Aboriginal people living in urban areas who have shocking health problems. The  health status of people living in Fitzroy is the same as people living in  Fitzroy Crossing, so we have a job to do convincing governments that there are  Aboriginal people who live in Victoria who need just as much support.”

Asked to list her most significant achievement in her time  in Aboriginal health, the 57-year-old cites her influence in getting the state  government to sign the statement of intent to close the 17-year life expectancy  gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

She says there are many factors, beyond access to health  services, that contribute to the disparity. ”If you’re going to close the life  expectancy gap you’ve got to look at education and employment opportunities.  Anyone whether you’re black or white, if you’ve got a job you’re going to be a  lot more healthy.”

She is also proud of her role in the return of 800  Aboriginal skeletons – the Murray Black Collection –  from the Museum of  Victoria and the National Museum of Australia to indigenous communities in  northern Victoria and southern New South Wales for burial.

”My passion is actually for us as Aboriginal people to be  recognised and valued as Aboriginal Australians and to enjoy the same benefits  that this country offers as non-indigenous Australians.

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