On 16 March 2017, the MHCC honoured national Close the Gap Day, a day that aims to bring people together, to share information and to take meaningful action in support of achieving Indigenous health equality by 2030.
Aboriginal Victorians report higher rates of psychological distress, and have higher rates of suicide and self-harm than the general population. The history of institutional and personal discrimination and exclusion experienced by many Aboriginal Victorians may impact on their access to quality mental health care. The MHCC aims to provide an effective avenue to address issues experienced by Aboriginal Victorians in public mental health services. We recognise the critical importance of understanding the social and cultural determinants of social and emotional wellbeing, and the provision of culturally competent services for Aboriginal people.
Over the past 12 months, the MHCC has aimed to increase participation and engagement with Aboriginal Victorians through consultations and forums, including presenting at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s (VACCHO) Social and Emotional Wellbeing Conference, and Improving Care for Aboriginal Patients Conference.
We also participated in consultations convened by the Department of Health and Human Services on the development of Victoria's Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Strategic Plan.
Recently, our team undertook VACCHO’s Cultural Safety in Health Training, and will continue this training as well as our ongoing consultation with both VACCHO and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.
We have also begun work to develop culturally appropriate information and resources for Aboriginal Victorians on complaints and ways in which the MHCC can assist.
We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work to do to achieve Indigenous health equality, and we are committed to continuing our focus on developing effective engagement strategies and culturally responsive services for Aboriginal people.