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SA election: Heart Foundation urges focus on Aboriginal women’s heart health
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SA election: Heart Foundation urges focus on Aboriginal women’s heart health

Media Release - 7 October 2021

As the South Australian election draws closer, the Heart Foundation is calling on the Liberal Government and Labor Opposition to commit to funding a campaign to improve the heart health of the state’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. 

Heart disease is a well-known condition that affects men, but it is also a leading killer of Australian women. In 2019 over 1,700 South Australian women died from cardiovascular disease and there were 17,600 hospitalisations. 

More than twice as many Australian women die of heart disease compared to breast cancer and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is even greater. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more than twice as likely to experience heart disease and stroke as non-Indigenous women. 

Among South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the experience of cardiovascular disease occurred at an earlier age compared to non-Indigenous women. This was particularly evident between the ages of 25 to 34, where almost 30 per cent of South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were found to have cardiovascular disease. 

The Heart Foundation’s Heart Health Manager South Australia, Dr Marie Ludlow (PhD), says this gap in heart health is concerning. 

“Heart disease is largely preventable, and it is important that through education and understanding we encourage more people to see the personal relevance of heart disease. In particular, we are keen to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with the tools to manage their risk factors for heart disease.

“The Heart Foundation wants to work together with communities and key health professionals to address the inequalities in heart health and work towards solutions, but government funding is critical,” Dr Ludlow said.

The Heart Foundation is asking the Government and the Opposition, if elected, to provide $1.5 million over three years to fund a project to empower South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to improve their heart health. This will be done through the development of culturally responsive heart health resources as part of a heart health education campaign. 

The funding would see the Heart Foundation work in collaboration with the SA Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium to increase awareness about the warning signs of a heart attack and general heart health such as reducing and managing risk factors.  

The project would be developed in consultation with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help engage women to create a sustainable model of care and shape health information and services that respond to their needs. 

SA Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium Executive Officer Kim Morey, whose family connections are to Central Australia and who is of Anmatyerre/-Eastern Arrernte descent, says the campaign would help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women across South Australia live a healthier life.  

“Addressing the huge disparities in heart health depends on health promotion that meets the needs of our communities and that is designed through respectful and inclusive engagement - this campaign could achieve that goal,” Ms Morey said. 

The Heart Foundation is also calling on the next South Australian Government to; 

•    Provide funding to boost cardiovascular research in South Australia  
•    Expand the Heart Foundation Walking program to get more South Australians walking more often 
•    Fund the SA Walking Strategy and Action Plan implementation 

More information about the Heart Foundation’s policies can be found here.

Media enquiries
Emily Goddard, Media Advisor
M: 0439 609 243  E: emily.goddard@heartfoundation.org.au

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