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UC program aims to improve Indigenous health

Antony Perry

18 July 2018: Researchers hope a new rehabilitation program at the University of Canberra will result in more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women seeking treatment for heart problems.

Research staff are trialling a cardiac rehabilitation program at the University’s Health Hub in a bid to provide Indigenous women with better access to treatment in a non-Indigenous setting.

Indigenous people are more susceptible to heart disease than non-Indigenous Australians and are three times more likely to suffer a major cardiac event.

Limited access to treatment in regional parts of the country and a reluctance to attend non-Indigenous health services are partly responsible for the higher rates, but the University’s Yeddung Gauar (Good Heart) program is aiming to break down those barriers.

Master of Physiotherapy alumna Alicia Jackson is an associate investigator for the project. She said the program was developed with community input and was tailored to Indigenous women.

“In developing the Good Heart program, we looked at Indigenous research and listened to Indigenous voices to guide us in how to create a culturally sensitive space for participants,” Ms Jackson said.

“We have created visual displays consisting of art work and flags to make participants feel more comfortable when they come to sessions at the Health Hub.

“All staff involved in Good Heart have attended cultural awareness training to ensure they are sensitive to the needs of participants. We have also appointed an Indigenous Health Worker to support participants."

The six-week program involves group exercise classes and information sessions on how to strengthen cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention among participants.

A community bus service is available to transport participants to and from the sessions, making it more accessible to people requiring treatment.

“This program is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have had a heart attack, have heart disease, or are at risk of having heart disease,” Ms Jackson said.

The Good Heart program is free and runs on Wednesdays from 12.15pm to 2pm at the University’s Health Hub.

Click here for more information and contact Alicia Jackson (0404 450 934) or Hayley Hoolihan (0404 245 895) if you’d like to participate.