Aboriginal Health Impact Measurement & Management

The Organisation: The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria, with a membership of 32 Community-controlled organisations. Their role is to support Members in the delivery of high-quality, culturally safe health and social services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community across the state. They do this by: 

  • advocating on issues related to Community health and wellbeing 
  • strengthening support networks 
  • increasing workforce development opportunities 
  • partnering with government and mainstream health organisations to embed self-determination and culturally informed approaches across health services and systems.

Self-determination is at the heart of what they do and what they want to achieve. Their vision is for Culture, Community and Country to be embedded and respected in all healthcare settings and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have equitable health access and outcomes.

Why outcome focused approaches to funding matter: Articulating the core outcomes that any organisation aspires to is complex. For a peak body, representing the views and needs of many communities across Victoria, creating space for a focus on long-term change, rather than short term activities was essential. Outcome focused working is a core tenet of our State and Federal governments’ approach to funding, and with it comes an opportunity to rethink the ways in which we constitute what success looks like. Outcome focused budgeting allows for continuous learning and evaluation, recognising that the contexts in which organisations operate continually change, and as they do, so must their knowledge and skills. Continuous learning and evaluation about progress towards outcomes is essential for organisations to remain relevant and meaningful to the complex, and continually shifting environments in which it operates. Outcome focused approaches to funding offers a chance to experiment with new approaches, learn about what works and doesn’t, and support the continued evolution of programmatic design. 

How we help: This project sought to design a Success Framework to articulate the shared long-term ambitions, outcomes, indicators, and evaluative approaches for the peak body for Aboriginal health in Victoria. The project involved the co-design of approaches through deep consultation, workshops with more than 50 participants from across the organisation – including a diverse mix of young people. Co-design processes helped to develop and validate indicators for measuring actions, outcomes and impacts, and a multi-stage feedback approach. An outcomes-based budget development process was undertaken to arrive at a long-term funding proposal to accompany the Success Framework.

Lived Experience + Power
In our work with VACCHO, power was an incredibly important element of our engagement. Lived experience of First Nations voices was central to the engagement and we worked with First Nations people as participants in a set of workshops across an extended period. Traditional Owners of Aboriginal country in Victoria were both participants and custodians of the work. Other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples involved in the work relied on these knowledges. We created governance arrangements that elevated the voices of Traditional Owners in the planning and cultural safety aspects of the work, including in all workshop and facilitation exercises. We then created separate and segregated spaces for men’s business and women’s business where relevant. Elders’ voices necessarily hold import, and equally a commitment to emerging leaders is central to the work of VACCHO. This required careful matching of skills and capacities and pre-work in a range of formats to ensure equal footing to begin with. Finally, the work was commissioned in the context of responding to a request from the Victorian Department of Health to move to a long-term planning model. This power dynamic complex to navigate, and the move from ‘consulted with’ to ‘co-design’ was new to staff at VACCHO and senior members of DHS. Again, we created multiple modes for dialogue, focusing on elevating oft-ignored voices and ensuring boundaries around the ways in which feedback and critique were collected.