Our History

Our history is important to us, because it shapes who we are and what we stand for. We have grown and evolved over the years, but we are still here – and always will be.

Old photo of West Heidelberg Community Centre open day

Banyule Community Health has been working in the local community for over 44 years.

Heidelberg City Council Social Worker, Mary Morgan conducted an action research and needs analysis of the West Heidelberg community in response to the Henderson Poverty Inquiry.  Her research started in June 1973 and presented in January 1974 to Professor Henderson. Many people at the time were experiencing the impacts of generational poverty, family breakdown, unemployment, the trauma of war and had poor access to supports. Mary unearthed a movement of local people and local services demanding improved access to health, welfare, education, housing, employment and justice services. This was a ground up, social determinants movement driven by a vibrant and engaged community.

Local services such as Austin Health, La Trobe University, YMCA, local Council, local schools and churches were crucial first partners in establishing the West Heidelberg Community Health and Welfare Centre. Opening in 1975, in the Administration Block of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games Village in West Heidelberg, the service quickly grew to become an integrated health, welfare and justice service. Locally the service became known as The Centre. Good health was about connection.

In the early 1980’s the second round of Community Health Centres emerged in Victoria, and the Diamond Valley Community Health Centre was established, with a focus on providing child and family services.  In the mid 1990’s, political and demographic changes led to the amalgamation of the West Heidelberg Community Health and Welfare Centre and the Diamond Valley Community Health Centre.  A new entity was established – Banyule Community Health, serving a bigger catchment.

Banyule Community Health continued to grow its services, building on the integrated primary health service model of GP’s, dentists, mental health and allied health and later expanded services in gamblers help, drug & alcohol, chronic disease supports, refugee health, men’s health and Aboriginal health. Always at the core of our work has been the value that clients, carers and community bring knowledge, skills and a lived experience that shapes our service.

In 2006, the Olympic Village site was redeveloped, providing the West Heidelberg community and staff with a facility that demonstrated the importance of health, place and the local community.  At the same time, service delivery grew beyond Banyule to other catchments and other communities. Banyule Community Health provide service across Victoria, working closely with Austin Health, Primary Health Networks, Department of Health & Human Services and a wide range of funding and partner organsiations.

In 2014, the West Heidelberg Community Legal Service, always a crucial component of the integrated model, moved under the auspice of Banyule Community Health strengthening Australia’s first health justice initiative.

Today, Banyule Community Health is a thriving for-purpose, community managed, not for profit service delivering a diverse range of health and welfare programs. Banyule Community Health are proud to call itself Community Health and build on its origins of being truly responsive to local needs, creative in its models of care, strong community advocates, and person centred in all that we do.  Banyule Community Health is always here for you.