WA Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) Peak Body Project Update


Background to the project

The National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement) signed in July 2020, is an historic agreement between all Australian Governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peaks). The National Agreement requires governments to genuinely partner and share decision making with Aboriginal people to enable self-determination, and to strengthen Aboriginal-led services and activities to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. The National Agreement details four Priority Reforms and 17 Socio-economic Targets to be achieved to close the gap in outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across Australia.


Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement

The legacy, resilience and strength of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) in leading and delivering services for their communities is a central foundation for the National Agreement. It is built on the knowledge that when services for Aboriginal people are led and delivered by Aboriginal people, the outcomes are better.

In recognition of this, Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement requires all governments and the Coalition of Peaks to support and build a strong and sustainable ACCO sector that delivers high quality services to meet the needs of Aboriginal people and their communities. The National Agreement also considers that peak bodies to support and advocate on behalf of ACCOs are essential to a strong Aboriginal Community-Controlled service sector.


A New Aboriginal Community Controlled Peak Body for Western Australia

AHCWA is currently the only formal Aboriginal Community Controlled peak body in Western Australia. With funding from the WA Government, and with Aboriginal leadership at the centre, AHCWA is leading a project to establish a WA ACCO Peak Body. It is likely this new peak body will have a social services focus. The Chairperson of AHCWA, the AHCWA Social Services Committee, and the Western Australian representative on the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, Vicki O’Donnell, says the initiative is a joint and collaborative process. “The establishment of a peak body for the ACCO sector is a crucial step in supporting and increasing the strength of WA ACCOs that deliver services to Aboriginal people and their communities in WA,” she said. “AHCWA recognises that, while it has longstanding experience as a peak body, it does not have expertise in the social services sector. We therefore need to partner with Aboriginal leaders and ACCOs to realise the vision of a strong and sustainable ACCO sector in WA.” In order to progress the Project, a subcommittee of the AHCWA Board, the AHCWA Social Services Committee, has been established comprising AHCWA Board members, as well as independent Aboriginal representatives.


Members of the AHCWA Social Services Committee include:

• Vicki O’Donnell (AHCWA Chairperson)

• Deborah Woods (AHCWA Treasurer)

• Ernie Hill (AHCWA Director South West)

• Preston Thomas (AHCWA Director Central Desert)

• June Councillor (AHCWA Director Pilbara)

• Raymond Christophers (AHCWA Director Kimberley)

• Gail Beck (Independent Representative)

• Corina Martin (Independent Representative)

• Marty Sibosado (Independent Representative)

• Gordon Gray (Independent Representative)

• Danny Brown (Independent Representative)


Ms O’Donnell recognised the broad expertise of the Committee stating; “I am looking forward to working with all members of the Committee to progress this historic and exciting initiative”.


To better understand the expertise, service offerings and locations of ACCOs across WA, AHCWA commissioned a mapping exercise of the WA ACCO landscape. This mapping exercise is supporting tailored and targeted communications about the project, and will enable AHCWA to identify ACCOs across WA for consultation on the project in the first half of 2022. Further information on these consultations will be shared in the new year. WA already has a wealth of community-based and outcomes driven ACCOs that have diverse experience in service delivery. It’s hoped that the strength, expertise, cultural knowledge and community connections of these ACCOs can come together to develop a strong, resilient and innovative sector into the future.


For further enquiries - AHCWA Chairperson: Vicki O’Donnell, 0429 110 440

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