Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs)

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) came into being because of the inability of mainstream health services to effectively engage Aboriginal communities with their services.

What is Aboriginal community control?

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the national peak body for all ACCHOs, defines Aboriginal community control in health services as:

‘a process which allows the local Aboriginal community to be involved in its affairs in accordance with whatever protocols or procedures are determined by the Community.

What is the definition of Aboriginal health?

ACCHOs have long adopted a holistic definition of health as defined in the Constitution of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO):

“Aboriginal health” means not just the physical well-being of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole Community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being thereby bringing about the total well-being of their Community. It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.

What is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO)?

An ACCHO is ‘a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive, and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it, through a locally elected Board of Management.

ACCHOs understand the position and role they play in supporting their local Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities to live better lives. The ACCHO approach has evolved out of an inherited responsibility to provide flexible and responsive services that are tailored to the needs of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. ACCHOs provide many services over and above their funded activities to ensure their community members gain the services they need.

In line with their holistic health approach ACCHOS support the social, emotional, physical and cultural wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families and communities.

What is the history of ACCHOs?

The first ACCHO was established for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Redfern in 1971. This was in response to experiences of racism in mainstream health services and an unmet need for culturally safe and accessible primary health care. A national umbrella organisation, the National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation, was first established in 1976 and became the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in 1992. To read more about the history of the ACCHO sector, see Our Story.

There are now more than 140 ACCHOs across Australia with peak representative organisations across all states and territories.

Find your nearest ACCHO with the NACCHO members and affiliates map, or contact NACCHO for more information.

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Members Map

Find a NACCHO Member or Affiliate near you.

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