The definition of ‘community control’ in the National Aboriginal Health Strategy (1989) is as follows:
“Community control is the local community having control of issues that directly affect their community. Implicit in this definition is the clear statement that Aboriginal people must determine and control the pace, shape and manner of change and decision-making at local, regional, state and national levels.”
NACCHO defines an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) as 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)
Implicit in this definition is the clear statement that Aboriginal people must determine and control the pace, shape and manner of change and decision making at (all) levels. Essentially, community control is the process through which the community determines the nature of the health and medical service, and is able to participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of those services.
Community control has been widely accepted as a key requirement in strategies to overcome Aboriginal health disadvantage. Implicit in this is the understanding that much of the morbidity and premature mortality experienced by Aboriginal people is not amenable to medical or other interventions imposed from outside the community.
The Philosophy of Community Control
The Pintupi Homelands Health Service (PHHS) is a community controlled health service. Essentially, the PHHS perceives community control as the ability of the people who are going to use the health service to determine the nature of that service, as well as participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of that service. Inherent to this philosophy is the principle that Aboriginal people must be able to determine and control all aspects of change and decision-making at all levels.
The Pintupi Homelands Health Service ensures community control through:
- The incorporation of the PHHS as an independent legal entity
- A constitution which guarantees control of the PHHS by Aboriginal people and which guarantees that the PHHS will function under the principle of self-determination
- Compulsory accountability processes including the holding of Annual General Meetings which are open to all members of the Kintore Aboriginal community, and the regular election of a Board of Directors.
How it Works:
Community control of an Aboriginal Corporation such as the PHHS occurs through the opportunity for members of an Indigenous community to register as members of the Aboriginal Corporation. Members can then elect a Board of Directors who effectively run the Aboriginal Corporation. This means members can nominate or be nominated as Board members, and then vote for the nominees that they want as Board members for their Corporation.
- The PHHS is incorporated with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations
- The PHHS is run by a Board of Directors elected to a two (2) year term
- The members of this Committee are elected by the members of the PHHS at the Annual General Meeting
- Everyone is welcome to attend the Annual General Meetings, however, only members of the PHHS may participate in the election process
- To become a member of the PHHS you must be of Australian Aboriginal descent, and reside in the Kintore or Western Desert region. You must fill out an application form (obtained from the PHHS) which must then be approved by the Board of Directors. Once approval has been granted you are eligible to participate in elections.