Principle 1: Self-determination is fundamental

This principle recognises that for holistic healing to effective it must be Aboriginal-led and promote social justice and a human rights approach.

Aboriginal people are thriving when self-determination is at the core of healing and there is a connection to culture, Country and community. Self-determination supports the building of strong communities. It empowers everyone to influence and contribute to Aboriginal designed and led tailored solutions and successful outcomes.

Aboriginal people have the right to lead and have a voice at all levels of decision-making. This includes:

  • Leading on the design and delivery of healing approaches.
  • Being supported to make choices about.
  • accessing and participating in healing.
  • Determining measures of success and methods of reporting on outcomes.
  • Being funded to develop an Aboriginal evidence base of holistic healing.

Service design characteristics

Upholding and affirming the right to self-determination is an obligation under a number of international law and human rights frameworks including the United Nations Charter, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the
Indigenous Peoples, and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

Self-determination is critical and evidence at a national and international level highlights that only Aboriginal-led and designed approaches result in
sustainable, effective change and positive outcomes. It enables Aboriginal voices to be heard, and recognises that these voices must be at the centre of

The following characteristics underpin self-determination in the context of designing and funding holistic healing approaches.

  • Charters of Indigenous rights are adhered to and promoted.
  • Aboriginal voice and advocacy is valued and privileged.
  • Aboriginal people make choices about their own healing journey.
  • Funding is directed to Aboriginal led holistic healing approaches.
  • Services enable feedback on design and service users experiences of the holistic healing programs Aboriginal people participate in.
  • Aboriginal defined measures of success direct holistic healing funding.
  • Aboriginal people design, implement and evaluate holistic healing programs.
  • Non-Aboriginal people will be guided in service design by Aboriginal people.

What does this look like in practice for?

Aboriginal people who need healing:

  • Have a voice in their own journey, and their cultural rights are upheld and respected.
  • Are empowered to make their own choices about how best to undertake their healing journey.
  • Are recognised as experts in their own journey and their strengths are acknowledged.

Aboriginal organisations and communities:

  • Are empowered to design and lead healing that best suit specific community needs.
  • Inform priorities and determine measures of success and methods of reporting that reflect Aboriginal understandings of social emotional determinants.
  • Have strong governance arrangements to support effective program delivery and project management.
  • Implement Aboriginal evaluation approaches that promote holistic healing best practice, and supports knowledge transfer and development.
  • Lead strong partnerships and service collaboration.
  • Lead development of holistic healing programs where diversity is reflected in the designing and best suit their community and specific community needs, such as for LGBTQIA+ community members.


  • Prioritises funding to Aboriginal communities and organisations for the development and design of holistic healing approaches for Aboriginal people.
  • Transfers resources from mainstream providers to Aboriginal services to ensure holistic healing is embedded in all activities.
  • Ensures holistic healing approaches are guided by and align with Aboriginal ways of working to enable enduring, long-term change.
  • Core funding includes capacity to resource evaluations to develop an evidence base of effective holistic healing approaches.
  • Ensures Aboriginal organisations are resourced to provide cultural competency training in holistic healing programs to mainstream services in Aboriginal holistic healing.
  • Ensures reporting requirements reflect Aboriginal understandings of social and cultural determinants of Aboriginal people.

When the community identifies the problem and then develops the program – that is when you have good outcomes – Research participant