Aboriginal communities have a long history of working to address the needs of Aboriginal peoples. Since the first Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) was established in Redfern, NSW in 1971, more than 150 ACCHSs have been established around Australia. While the Aboriginal community controlled health sector has long argued that ACCHSs are a vital part of Australia’s health care system, there has been little in the published literature acknowledging and supporting their roles and recognising their contributions to improving Aboriginal health. This review aims to provide a comprehensive collation and analysis of the available evidence about the different ways in which ACCHSs contribute to improving the health of Aboriginal peoples.
The reviewed literature demonstrates that ACCHSs contribute to improving the health of Aboriginal peoples through several pathways. As community controlled organisations, ACCHSs are practical expressions of Aboriginal peoples’ self-determination, and this is reflected in ACCHS governance and health care models. The community-controlled model has been demonstrated to be associated with improved psychological wellbeing and reduced hospitalization rates for Indigenous groups in other countries.