Community health service swaps out 26 Jan public holiday for cultural safety training

Released on 24th January 2023

For the second consecutive year, Victorian community health service cohealth will give all of its 1200 employees the option of working on the 26 January public holiday and substituting it for another day off.  

And this year for – the first time – employees who choose to work that day will have the option of attending Cultural Safety training that has been developed by cohealth’s Yakeen Tharn (Dreaming Path) Aboriginal health team. 

cohealth says it recognises that, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 26 January represents the beginning of colonisation, genocide, dispossession and oppression of culture.  

“A large part of our work as a community health service is supporting the First Nations’ community to overcome health inequity, discrimination and disruption of culture that is a direct result of colonisation,” said cohealth Deputy Chief Executive Christopher Turner. 

“For many of the people we work with, and our staff, 26 January is a day of mourning and reflection.  

“We’re giving those who choose to work on the day the option of learning more about the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people, and ways to provide culturally safe services,” said Mr Turner. 

“The Yakeen Tharn Cultural Safety training will be centred around truth-telling and provides a safe space to learn and ask questions.” 

Mr Turner points out that being a culturally safe employer, makes cohealth culturally safe provider.  

“By ensuring we provide safe spaces for our employees, we also create safe spaces for community,” he said. 

“The training helps bridge traditional service provision within community health and strengthens engagement with First Nations’ clients”. 

To meet the goals set out in cohealth’s Reconciliation Action Plan, the training will be mandatory for all staff to complete, and there will be an opportunity once a month for staff to attend a session.

cohealth’s Yakeen Tharn team supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to manage their health care needs, and to improve access to health services.   

The team coordinate programs designed for the Aboriginal community, such as the weekly Billabong BBQ in Melbourne’s north, Foodshare Braybrook in the west the Balit Gulinya cultural connection program, and a Paediatric Clinic for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. 



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More on cohealth: 

cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all.  cohealth provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  


More information: or 0499 101 638

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