This video highlights the South West Close the Gap project in the Barwon South Western region of Victoria. The project is lead by Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative and is delivered in partnership with Kirrae Health Service and South West Healthcare. The project works with community members experiencing social and emotional wellbeing, family violence and/or drug and alcohol issues, using a case management and care coordination model. The project has included a strong focus on evaluations since its inception and has actively incorporated learnings from these activities.

So I’ve been involved with our Close the Gap Programme for around about five years now, and throughout that period we've had a number of evaluations on the project, from external independent parties and also internally. It’s enabled us to evolve and make the programme responsive to the community’s needs. We have made changes as such to be able to do that.

The main part of the programme is around that care coordination, support for families, advocacy and some guidance and direction. Another important part for the programme is identifying service gap deliveries within the local community, so identifying referral pathways, establishing clear lines for the referrals and looking at the service delivery gaps.

Just talking about how important the culture around Warrnambool is to Gunditjmara people, the communities, families have lost their culture and that has made a big difference to their health, their mental health and their well-being. Reconnecting to culture is the most important thing to aboriginal people because it makes them stronger, it makes them healthier and if they don't know their identity they don't know where they belong.

One of the stories that I can share with you is a family that overcrowded in a house. They’ve been trying for many years to get a bigger house to support that family. The family had seven people living in a three-bedroomed house. Their mental health, their health concerns was just overwhelming. 

The South West Close the Gap Project is very much driven and guided by a consortium style set-up, so the consortium comprises of members from the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Property Curate Health Service and South West Healthcare. The project initially started up at South West Healthcare and is now delivered from Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative. 

The partnerships with the partner agencies with Curate Health and South West Healthcare have been beneficial, not only for the organisations, but the community as well. The South West Close the Gap Programme was very much set up to provide support to aboriginal families and individuals within the local community around a multitude of problems and issues, so to be part of the programme the family has to have mental health, family violence or alcohol and other drug issues, and the three partners all play a vital role in driving and guiding the programme from the strategic sort of governance level and then feeding back information down to the people on the ground.

There's still a lot of historic hurt out there in the community and that hurt and feelings are intergenerational, and it’s very much what the community’s still going through today. For somebody to be open and honest and, it just helps build that trust and in rapport with the community members that yes, this is an organisation that we can trust and not try and hide anything. They are there to help and support me.

There's a family that I've been working with, a father, wife and a young teenage daughter. The father has severe mental health issues, but also being involved in family violence. I’ve not long been working with that family and I’ve seen the changes within that family. The father has actually got support from me to support him with his family violence, take him to court and also he asked to have some help in addressing his mental health and drug problems. Now I’ve seen the changes within that family. The father’s health has improved, the mother's health has improved and also the young teenage daughter, who was self-harming at the time, so they’ve all worked together and they’re supporting one another in a positive and strengthening that family environment.