Before the European colonization, Indigenous Australians has lived in Victoria for 50,000 years. They were free and had their own cultural identity, speaking many languages, had a very strong culture and connection to their lands. Their way of life was healthy; it was based on the hunter-gatherer culture, which involves more physical work and their diet was fresh foods (VACCHO, 2020).
After colonization, the Indigenous population in Victoria reduced from 60,000 to 2,000 due to battle with settlers, lack of resistance to European illnesses, lack of freedom and loss of identity, displacement from their lands and change in their lifestyle. Indigenous people were traumatized and emotionally depressed because of the massacres, removal of their spiritual belief and set in a Christian mission, because of initial violence, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, drug use, alcohol misuses, and smoking increased among the Indigenous community (VACCHO, 2020).
The Government policy of Protection (1869) and Assimilation Policy (1951-1962) under the name of protection boards, separated thousands of Indigenous children from their families and put them in white families or missions, at 18 they forced to disseminate into the white society and these children known as the Stolen Generations. The physical, emotional and sexual abuse remains a lifetime impact on the health and well-being of the Stolen Generations (VACCHO, 2020). These children forcefully separated from their families have weakened their Indigenous identity and Indigenous cultural traditions. Their level of education is limited so that less likely to get employment, experiencing unstable living conditions and unstable relationship with their partners. Most of the children arrested by police and convicted of an offence resulting in imprisonment are more of the parts of the Stolen Generations (Wilson, 1997).
The health gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community results mainly because of the past physical and mental trauma, ongoing racism and race discrimination, unhealthy diet, physically inactive, less education, less employment, low income, housing affordability and poor sanitation and drainage system subjects to poor health, and which led to 10.6 years less life expectancy of Indigenous males born between 2015 and 2017 and about 8 to 9 years less for females than non-Indigenous population (Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, 2020).
If the health gap needs to be closed, understanding the meaning of health for Aboriginal people is necessary. Health for Aborigines is holistic, besides physical illness, it is also about the individual, their family and the community well-being. To address the health needs of Aboriginal people in the culturally appropriate and holistic way, various solutions have been implemented by the Aboriginal community, which includes the establishment of Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organization (VACCHO) and community healing centres run by the Healing Foundation. VACCHO is a member of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization (NACCHO) and which represents 100 per cent Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organizations. It operates at a community level to address the health needs of the specific local area and owned locally. 25 Aboriginal Community controlled Health Organizations are set across Victoria (VACCHO, 2020). The community healing centres also providing culturally safe and health services to the Aboriginal community, particularly to those members of the Stolen Generations and their families, aimed to help their mind and emotions spiritually and to support them through their healing process. In 2017/2018 the Healing Foundation supported to 170 Stolen Generations members who took part in collective healing projects (Healing Foundation, 2018).
Aboriginal-led health organizations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization and healing centres run by the Healing Foundation are vital to close to the health gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Culturally safe and health care services delivered by Aborigines to Aborigines play a significant role on decolonization of the mainstream health by allowing self-determination, as these organizations are run and managed by Aborigines, Advocates for Aborigines health equality by providing access to health services, capacity building through health promotion and education and creating job opportunity to Aboriginal people. As these organizations run and work for the Aboriginal community which gives confidence and builds trust in the health services, so this increases access to the health services and creating strong connections among the Aboriginal community (VACCHO, 2020).
The Healing Foundation supports group healing projects which were planned to meet the specific healing needs to members of the Stolen Generations by giving them access to healing groups, connecting them with other survivors and sharing their stories helps to many members of the Stolen Generations and it also plays a significant role for intergenerational healing (Healing Foundation, 2018).