North Western Melbourne PHN adds its support to the Treaty process

Treaty for Victoria graphic
  7 March 2024  NWMPHN   

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is committed to improving health care for the 1.9 million people in its 3,212 square kilometre catchment.

The entire catchment, like those of the other 5 primary health networks across Victoria, comprises unceded Aboriginal land. The continued absence of any formal agreement between the State and its First Peoples constitutes a foundational injustice and barrier to reconciliation and equity.

NWMPHN strongly supports the ongoing dialogue between the Victorian Government, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community aimed at establishing a Treaty. The Treaty will acknowledge that before the State of Victoria existed, First Peoples had been here for millennia, practising law, lore and cultural authority.

About a quarter of Victoria’s First Nations people live within the NWMPHN catchment. Indeed, the past decade has seen a significant increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have taken up residency across the catchment – and an increase, too, in the number of people gaining the confidence to identify as such.

Working closely with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, NWMPHN plays a significant role in funding, commissioning and co-designing programs to support First Peoples’ health and wellbeing.

In doing this, we acknowledge that past government legislation and policies have contributed to Aboriginal people being one of the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in Australia.

Statistics indicate that First Peoples experience higher rates of disadvantage, family violence and assaults, racism and discrimination, and unemployment. These are all important social determinants of health that influence individual and group differences in health status.

In addition, First Peoples have higher rates of mental illness, self-harm, suicide, mental illness-related hospitalisations, drug and alcohol comorbidities, and experience homelessness at a far greater rate than non-Aboriginal people.

We believe that the formation of a Treaty is an essential step towards resolving these harms and injustices. Treaty – and the truth-telling that must accompany it – will deliver long-term, sustainable solutions, allowing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make firm decisions about the matters that impact their lives and futures.

To learn more about the Treaty process visit the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria website.