Over the past 50 years, the gradual demise of key elements in the education of Aboriginal Health Workers (AHW) has led to a range of aboriginal health initiatives failing.

Between 1982-1990, the Koori Kollij in Collingwood delivered a highly successful AHW training program. The curriculum included not only training in primary health care but, crucially, offered AHW the opportunity to develop their advocacy and leadership skills.

Current training for AHW has evolved away from the leading Koori Kollij program. Past research shows that grounded Indigenous input into health worker education programs is the only truly successful model.

The Aboriginal History Archive (AHA)

Thankfully, the Aboriginal History Archive (AHA) at VU holds a collection of unique and original materials from Koori Koliij training program.

Research currently being conducted at VU by Professor Foley and Dr Land into the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Movement has revealed the powerful influence of this program. This program, through a unique blend of education and empowerment, unleashed a generation of health workers who went on to establish, lead, advocate for and defend the growth and integrity of scores of Aboriginal Health Services nationwide.

Founded by Professor Gary Foley, the AHA has been built on his own extensive records compiled during the course of his lifetime of activism. All together, there are more than 3,000 individual objects housed in the physical archive, and it continues to grow.

Visit the Aboriginal History Archive page to learn more about their work.

 Professor Gary Foley surrounded by objects from Aboriginal History Archive

Professor Gary Foley with content for the Aboriginal History Archive


Future of the AHW Training Program

Thanks to a generous grant from the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, records and materials from the successful Koori Kollij AHW training will be used to analyse existing training to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.

The important insights gained from this project aim to improve the training of all health workers working with First Nations peoples.

In the long term, it is hoped that a world-class modernised Koori- Kollij style AHW training program will be delivered to the Aboriginal health workforce, boosting the effectiveness of Aboriginal people and supporters to contribute to closing the gap in key target areas.


Support our work

If you are interested in supporting the Aboriginal History Archive and projects like this, please email [email protected].