THE Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative is setting out on a new direction with new board members and a new leadership team, the cooperative’s operations manager John Coxon says.
As well as better identifying how it could help improve Aboriginal health and wellbeing in the region, the cooperative wanted to be more engaged with the wider community, Mr Coxon said.
He said the whole cooperative had been restructured in recent months with the introduction of additional new line managers and team leaders.
Improved reporting processes by staff to team leaders and consequently to the new chief executive, Jason Kanoa, and the board had been set up, Mr Coxon said.
“We have good governance practices in place,” he said.
Five new board members had been appointed to join two previously appointed board members, Mr Coxon said.
The board is now chaired by Billy McGuiness with Shane Bell, Brian Davis, Tristin DeBono, Lee Morgan and Louise Wackett as the other board members.
The restructure began last September after the previous board requested assistance from the (Melbourne-based) Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (VACCHO), Mr Coxon said.
VACCHO had given excellent assistance and the cooperative was now looking to the future and developing new health programs, he said.
After a number of community meetings, the cooperative was also better engaged with the indigenous community it served, Mr Coxon said.
Most of the feedback generated from the meetings had called for the rebuilding of trust between the cooperative and the indigenous community, he said.
Mr Coxon also said the cooperative expected to employ eight new people to positions over the next two to three months, lifting its workforce from 40 to 48.
The new employees will include a person to run a program for early intervention to combat sexual violence and another to implement a smoking cessation program.
Other new appointments included a doctor to fill a long term vacancy at the Gunditjmara Health Clinic in Banyan Street, a quality control officer and a social and emotional wellbeing worker, Mr Coxon said.
Many of the programs they would run would be done in conjunction with other indigenous, health and social welfare agencies, he said.
Mr Coxon said the cooperative “co-existed” with the Gunditjmara aboriginal people who determined what services they wanted from the cooperative in conjunction with government funding bodies.