Improving heart health in the Outback

Organisation: Heart Foundation Queensland

Project: Expanding the Heart Health Volunteer Speakers Program

Amount: $111,421 over three years

Year of grant: 2013

Cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of death in Australia. It affects one in two men and one in three women, yet it is largely preventable with changes to lifestyle and assistance from medications.

Since 2002, Heart Foundation Queensland had been providing a free awareness and education service to Queensland community organisations. Volunteers are trained to talk to people in the community to raise awareness and educate the local community about heart health issues. 60% of speakers have heart disease themselves or have a family member with heart disease.

The John Villiers Trust provided funding for Heart Foundation Queensland to roll out the program over three years to reach rural and remote areas of Central and North Queensland, where typically the incidence of cardiovascular disease is highest and knowledge of how lifestyle factors impact on heart disease is low.

Local community speakers are trained to present information sessions to groups in their region on a number of topics including:

  • blood pressure and cholesterol
  • warning signs of heart attack
  • nutrition and physical activity

In its first year, funding has been directed to the production and development of a DVD featuring the Heart Foundation’s key health messages which augments the suite of resources available to the team of volunteer community, fills the gap if speakers are unavailable, and can be used as a training and induction tool.

The second and third years of the project will see further community speakers recruited and trained and new program locations established in towns such as Mt Isa, Emerald, Roma, Charleville, Moranbah and Longreach.