The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is the national peak Aboriginal health body representing Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services throughout Australia.
An Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) or an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) is 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).
In keeping with the philosophy of self-determination, Aboriginal communities operate over 140 AMSs across Australia. They range from large multi-functional services employing several medical practitioners and providing a wide range of services, to small services without medical practitioners, which rely on Aboriginal health workers and/or nurses to provide the bulk of primary care services, often with a preventive, health education focus. The services form a network, but each is autonomous and independent both of one another and of government. The integrated primary health care model adopted by ACCHSs/AMSs is in keeping with the philosophy of Aboriginal community control and the holistic view of health that this entails.
'Aboriginal health is not just the physical well being of an individual but is the social, emotional and cultural well being of the whole community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential thereby bringing about the total well being of their community. It is a whole-of-life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.' (NAHS, 1989).
The solution to address the ill health of Aboriginal people can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling the process of health care delivery. Local Aboriginal community control in health is essential to the definition of Aboriginal holistic health and allows Aboriginal communities to determine their own affairs, protocols and procedures.