Our Story

Listen to the people stories, invest long-term in Aboriginal community-led, trauma-informed solutions. Solutions that are based on connection to Aboriginal Culture, Country, Community and kin”

Jill Gallagher, AO - CEO VACCHO

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) is a complex, multidimensional concept encompassing connections to land, culture, spirituality, ancestry, family, and community (Social Health Reference Group, 2004). Aboriginal SEWB is situated within a framework that acknowledges Aboriginal Australian world-views and expressions of culture, including the individual self, family, kin, community, traditional lands, ancestors, and the spiritual dimensions of existence (Dudgeon, Schultz, Hart, & Kelly, 2014).1

Although the creation of the Centre is in its early development, the Centre is a result of tireless advocacy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

This journey of advocacy commenced long before the Royal Commission and our community controlled health organisation have been providing holistic and integrated care that is culturally safe for Aboriginal people for decades.  

  • 1973

    Establishment of Victorian Aboriginal Health Service in Fitzroy- Victoria’s First Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation providing holistic social and emotional wellbeing supports to the Victorian Aboriginal community

  • 1996

    Establishment of VACCHO

  • 2010

    VACCHO commenced providing sector support to the social and emotional wellbeing workforce and years later hosted the first statewide SEWB gathering

  • 2016

    Establishment of the Aboriginal Reference group for social and emotional wellbeing

  • 2017

    Victorian Government launched Balit Murrup: Social and Emotional Wellbeing Framework 2017 - 2027

  • 2019

    The Royal Commission into the Victorian Mental Health system commence

  • The Interim report was released - recommendation 4

  • Balit Durn Durn Report was developed to respond to the Interim Report

  • 2021

    The Royal Commission Final Report was released - recommendation 33

  • May 2022

    The Launch of the Balit Durn Durn Centre

Woi Wurrung Language 

The term Balit Durn Durn was gifted to name the report in response to the Royal Commission interim report. Further approval was sought to continue the use of this term to name the Centre. We felt this was essential in honouring the voices and stories shared through the Royal Commission process but also outside of this process. We are grateful to the Wurundjeri people for the continued use of their Woi Wurrung language. Balit Durn Durn translates in english to Strong brain, mind, intellect and sense of self.

About the Artist

Kenita-Lee McCartney
Kenita-Lee McCartney is an Aboriginal woman from Swan Hill/Balarand. Her bloodlines run through Wemba Wemba, Wiradjuri, Wotjiboluk, Neri Neri, Boon Wurrung country.

A proud kuyinggurrin (mother) of two pembemgguk (children) living on country on the Murray River in Matakupaat (Swan Hill), the land of the platypus.
“I come from strong bloodlines. As an Aboriginal person I’ve made it my responsibility (like many other blackfullas) to create and empower positive change for my Communities, keeping culture alive, strong and at the forefront of everything I do.
I am inspired by those who have come before me,
I’m inspired by Country, our language, our traditions and our people. I have been creating since I was young, dancing and making art wherever I could.
Now as an adult, art is very healing for me, whether it’s through dancing, painting or weaving.”

“Nyarri Yathaka” - Now we will no longer be without (caption to the artwork)
Story of Artwork
This piece tells the story of bright futures, with our Mobs flourishing and thriving – stories that I am drawn to telling. This piece signifies our path to a brighter future and the healing journey for our mob. With our Communities leading the way to create even brighter and self-determining futures for generations to come. The colours are vibrant and bright, invoking our past and its impacts that helped plant the seeds of resilience that our Mob have sown. The piece tells a story of the journey our Mobs continue on. Of the beautiful lives that are flourishing, overcoming pain and injustice to move into a new era. Social and emotional wellbeing means connecting to Country and my culture – keeping it close to my heart. This piece expresses that if our people are provided with the right tools in life, we can be empowered. Connecting our people to their culture will empower them to thrive.
Our future is bright. Our days are brighter. We have that fire, that essence of culture, connection, spirituality within. We’ve overcome huge losses and persevered through the many challenges, but today we bloom. We are here. We are alive. We have survived. We are healing. We are strong. We will thrive.