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Aboriginal health and wellbeing

In 2010, we named Aboriginal health and wellbeing as one of our priority areas

Cabrini acknowledges the Boon Wurrung People, the traditional custodians of the land on which Cabrini’s facilities in Melbourne stand. We recognise the Boon Wurrung Elders and Elders of all Australia’s First People, for they hold the memories, traditions, culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia.

Cabrini has been working in the area of Aboriginal health and wellbeing for more than a decade. Aboriginal health is a priority health issue given the gap in both life expectancy and health outcomes between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Currently we support programs in Victoria and the Northern Territory.

Australia's First People experience the worst health outcomes of any Australians. Therefore we believe they have a special call on our resources. In 2010, we named Aboriginal health and wellbeing as one of our priority areas and we have sought to strengthen our contributions each year. We have learnt that a key to success is forming long-term partnerships with Aboriginal people and agencies, building relationships based on mutual respect and mutual obligation. Currently we support programs in Victoria, Northern Territory and Queensland. As part of our reconciliation story staff have the opportunity to experience a cultural immersion program. All staff are encouraged to read our Position statement. 

Boonwurrung Cultural Revival Program

As all of our health care facilities are located in Boonwurrung country, we have sought to demonstrate our respect for the traditional owners by working with Boonwurrung leaders to enhance the wellbeing of their people.

The Boonwurrung Cultural Revival Program began in march 2015. As the name implies, the program acknowledges the direct link between cultural identity and wellbeing. The program has two goals. The first is to conduct genealogy work, language reclamation and connection to country with the family groups who are descendants of Louisa Briggs, a Yalukit Wilam, one of the six clans of the Boonwurrung. Louisa played a major role in the history and politics of all Victorian Aboriginal people from the 1850s until her death in 1925. She provides a direct link between pre-settlement Melbourne and the history of post-settlement for this clan. The second goal is to share cultural insights with the community at large. Sharing is an enduring cultural value of the Boonwurrung. This will be achieved through teaching the importance of country and how to maintain a respectful relationship with it so we all prosper. Activities will include Connection to Country programs, and reconciliation and cultural awareness work within existing and new communities.

Indigenous Hospitality house:

The residents of the Indigenous Hospitality House open their hearts and home to Aboriginal people who are visiting a family member in a Melbourne hospital.

We have supported this program since 2006 with an annual philanthropic grant towards the house expenses. In addition, our staff donate food and other supplies to enhance the hospitality provided.


Inner South Community Health Service Wominjeka BBQ

The Wominjeka BBQ is held every Monday at Veg Out Gardens in St Kilda (opposite Luna Park). It provides an opportunity and space for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to meet, eat and talk together. Community members and volunteers prepare a healthy lunch. They are also able to provide advice about staying well, and organise referrals to health and support services as required.


Jesuit Social Services Capacity Building Program

This program was established by Jesuit Social Services at the invitation of the Eastern and Central Arrente Elders in response to their feelings of powerlessness, lack of local authority and uncertainty about the future for their children. Jesuit Social Services began working with the community corporations to improve their governance and management skills.

Opening the Doors Foundation

Opening the Doors Foundation was established in 2001 to support young indigenous Victorians to maximise their educational achievement. The Foundation provides grant towards the funding of educational costs not otherwise covered by government or other regular sources, such as school uniforms, books, school camps and other school associated costs.

We have supported the Foundation since 2002, making us one of their longest-standing friends. The capacity of the Foundation has grown significantly from their early beginings.


Community Dialysis in the Western Desert

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation.

In September 2014, St Vincent's Health Australia invited us to partner with the team and Caritas Australia to support the development of a community-based dialysis centre in Santa Teresa, near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Through our long-term relationship with Santa Teresa community, we recognised the positive impact the service would make. We provided a grant to establish the service and signed a three-year agreement to fund the service until 30 June 2018. The service is operated by Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (also known as Western Desert Dialysis). There have been 589 treatments on six patients since the service was established. Having dialysis available in the Santa Teresa community enables continuing family support and connection, which is beneficial for the patients and educational for the next generation who see first-hand the results of lifestyle choices.



We are developing a relationship with Apunipima Cape York Health Council. Apunipima is a membership-based, community-controlled Aboriginal health organisation responsible for delivering high quality, culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary healthcare to 11 Cape York communities. In 2015, Apunipima approached Catholic Health Australia (CHA) seeking support. Cabrini expressed interest in being part of the Catholic response. We are invited to participate in a CHA-led working party to spearhead and coordinate the development of the relationships. This culminated in a visit to Arukun and Weipa followed by a meeting in Cairns in July 2016.

Read more information about Intjartnama on Cabrini website

Read our Social Policy Statement