NACCHO Aboriginal Health @strokefdn @HeartAust New Year’s resolutions : For your health in 2018 have your blood pressure checked , it could save your life. #FightStroke


 ” We hear so much at this time of year about New Year’s resolutions – eat healthy, quit smoking, get more exercise, drink more water. The list goes on and on and on. 

While these are all valid and well intentioned goals, I am urging you to do one simple thing for your health in 2018 which could save your life. 

Have your blood pressure checked.  

High blood pressure is a key risk factor for stroke and one that can be managed.”

By Stroke Foundation Clinical Council Chair Associate Professor Bruce Campbell see full Press Release Part 1 WEBSITE

NACCHO has published 48 Aboriginal Health and Heart  Articles in the past 6 Years

NACCHO has published 86 Aboriginal Health and Stroke Articles in the past 6 Years

  ” High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is a major risk factor for stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, kidney disease, deteriorating vision and peripheral vascular disease leading to leg ulcers and gangrene.

Major risk factors for high blood pressure include increasing age, poor diet (particularly high salt intake), obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and insufficient physical activity . A number of these risk factors are more prevalent among Indigenous Australians

Based on both measured and self-reported data from the 2012–13 Health Survey, 27% of Indigenous adults had high blood pressure.

Rates increased with age and were higher in remote areas (34%) than non-remote areas (25%).

Twenty per cent of Indigenous adults had current measured high blood pressure.

Of these adults, 21% also reported diagnosed high blood pressure.

Most Indigenous Australians with measured high blood pressure (79%) did not know they had the condition; this proportion was similar among non-Indigenous Australians.

Therefore, there are a number of Indigenous adults with undiagnosed high blood pressure who are unlikely to be receiving appropriate medical advice and treatment.

The proportion of Indigenous adults with measured high blood pressure who did not report a diagnosed condition decreased with age and was higher in non-remote areas (85%) compared with remote areas (65%).

PMC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2014 Report see extracts below PART 2 or in full HERE

Closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who experience and die from cardiovascular disease at much higher rates than other Australians. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when compared with other Australians, are:

  • 1.3 times as likely to have cardiovascular disease (1)
  • three times more likely to have a major coronary event, such as a heart attack (2)
  • more than twice as likely to die in hospital from coronary heart disease (2)
  • 19 times as likely to die from acute rheumatic fever and chronic rheumatic heart Disease (3)
  • more likely to smoke, have high blood pressure, be obese, have diabetes and have end-stage renal disease.(3)

From Heart Foundation website

Find your nearest ACCHO download the NACCHO FREE APP

ACCHO’s focusing on primary prevention through risk assessment, awareness and early identification and secondary prevention through medication.

Download the NACCHO App HERE

High blood pressure is a silent killer because there are no obvious signs or symptoms, the only way to know is to ask your ACCHO GP for regular check-ups.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the greatest preventable risk factors that contributes significantly to the cardiovascular disease burden.

The good news is that hypertension can be controlled through lifestyle modification and in more serious cases by blood pressure-lowering medications.”

Part 1 Stroke Foundation Press Release Continued :

A simple step to prevent stroke in 2018

Stroke is a devastating disease that will impact one in six of us. There is one stroke every nine minutes in Australia. Stroke attacks the human control centre – the brain – it happens in an instant and changes lives forever.

In 2018 it’s estimated there will be more than 56,000 strokes across the country. Stroke will kill more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer this year.

But the good news is that it does not need to be this way. Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and research has shown the number of strokes would be practically cut in half (48 percent) if high blood pressure alone was eliminated.

Around 4.1 million of us have high blood pressure and many of us don’t realise it. Unfortunately, high blood pressure has no symptoms. The only way to know if it is a health issue for you is by having it checked by your doctor or local pharmacist.

Make having regular blood pressure checks a priority for 2018. Include a blood pressure check in your next GP visit or trip to the shops. Be aware of your stroke risk and take steps to manage it. Do it for yourself and do it for your family.

If you think you are too young to suffer a stroke, think again. One in three people who has a stroke is of working age.

Health and fitness is big business. But before you fork out big bucks on a personal trainer or diet plan this year, do something simple and have your blood pressure checked.

It will only take five minutes, it’s non-invasive and it could save your life.

Declaration of Interest : Colin Cowell NACCHO Social Media Editor ( A stroke Survivor) was a board member and Chair of Stoke Foundation Consumer Council 2016-17

Part 2 PMC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2014 Report  or in full HERE

In 2012–13, 10% of Indigenous adults reported they had a diagnosed high blood pressure condition.

Of these, 18% did not have measured high blood pressure and therefore are likely to be managing their condition.

Indigenous males were more likely to have high measured blood pressure (23%) than females (18%).

The survey showed that an additional 36% of Indigenous adults had pre-hypertension (blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/90 mmHg).

This condition is a signal of possibly developing hypertension requiring early intervention. In 2012–13, after adjusting for differences in the age structure of the two populations, Indigenous adults were 1.2 times as likely to have high measured blood pressure as non-Indigenous adults.

For Indigenous Australians, rates started rising at younger ages and the largest gap was in the 35–44 year age group. Analysis of the 2012–13 Health Survey found a number of associations between socio-economic status and measured and/or self-reported high blood pressure.

Indigenous Australians living in the most relatively disadvantaged areas were 1.3 times as likely to have high blood pressure (28%) as those living in the most relatively advantaged areas (22%).

Indigenous Australians reporting having completed schooling to Year 9 or below were 2.1 times as likely to have high blood pressure (38%) as those who completed Year 12 (18%).

Additionally, those with obesity were 2 times as likely to have high blood pressure (37% vs 18%). Those reporting fair/poor health were 1.8 times as likely as those reporting excellent/very good/good health to be have high blood pressure (41% vs 22%).

Those reporting having diabetes were 2.2 times as likely to have high blood pressure (51% vs 23%), as were those reporting having kidney disease (57% vs 26%). One study in selected remote communities found high blood pressure rates 3–8 times the general population (Hoy et al. 2007).

Most diagnosed cases of high blood pressure are managed by GPs or medical specialists. When hospitalisation occurs it is usually due to cardiovascular complications resulting from uncontrolled chronic blood pressure elevation.

During the two years to June 2013, hospitalisation rates for hypertensive disease were 2.4 times as high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as for non-Indigenous Australians. Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, hospitalisation rates started rising at younger ages with the greatest difference in the 55–64 year age group.

This suggests that high blood pressure is more severe, occurs earlier, and is not controlled as well for Indigenous Australians.

As a consequence, severe disease requiring acute care in hospital is more common. GP survey data collected from April 2008 to March 2013 suggest that high blood pressure represented 4% of all problems managed by GPs among Indigenous Australians.

After adjusting for differences in the age structure of the two populations, rates for the management of high blood pressure among Indigenous Australians were similar to those for other Australians.

In December 2013, Australian Government-funded Indigenous primary health care organisations provided national Key Performance Indicators data on around 28,000 regular clients with Type 2 diabetes.

In the six months to December 2013, 64% of these clients had their blood pressure assessed and 44% had results in the recommended range (AIHW 2014w).


The prevalence of measured high blood pressure among Indigenous adults was estimated as 1.2 times as high as for non-Indigenous adults and hospitalisation rates were 2.4 times as high, but high blood pressure accounted for a similar proportion of GP consultations for each population.

This suggests that Indigenous Australians are less likely to have their high blood pressure diagnosed and less likely to have it well controlled given the similar rate of GP visits and higher rate of hospitalisation due to cardiovascular complications.

Research into the effectiveness of quality improvement programmes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care services has demonstrated that blood pressure control can be improved by a well-coordinated and systematic approach to chronic disease management (McDermott et al. 2004).

Identification and management of hypertension requires access to primary health care with appropriate systems for the identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and systemic approaches to health assessments and chronic illness management.

The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, which commenced 1 July 2014, provides for better chronic disease prevention and management through expanded access to and coordination of comprehensive primary health care.

Initiatives provided through this programme include nationwide tobacco reduction and healthy lifestyle promotion activities, a care coordination and outreach workforce based in Medicare Locals and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and GP, specialist and allied health outreach services serving urban, rural and remote communities, all of which can be used to diagnose and assist Indigenous Australians with high blood pressure.

Additionally, the Australian Government provides GP health assessments for Indigenous Australians under the MBS, of which blood pressure measurement is one key element, with follow-on care and incentive payments for improved management, and cheaper medicines through the PBS.

The Australian Government-funded ESSENCE project ‘essential service standards’ articulates what elements of care are necessary to reduce disparity for Indigenous Australians for high blood pressure.

This includes recommendations focusing on primary prevention through risk assessment, awareness and early identification and secondary prevention through medication.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health @VACCHO_org @Apunipima join major 2018 health groups campaign @Live Lighter #RethinkSugaryDrink launching ad showing heavy health cost of cheap $1 frozen drinks


“A cheeky, graphic counter-campaign taking on cheap frozen drink promotions like $1 Slurpees and Frozen Cokes has hit Victorian bus and tram stops to urge Australians to rethink their sugary drink. 

Rather than tempt viewers with a frosty, frozen drink, the “Don’t Be Sucked In” campaign from LiveLighter and Rethink Sugary Drink, an alliance of 18 leading health agencies, shows a person sipping on a large cup of bulging toxic fat. “

NACCHO has published over 150 various articles about sugar , obesity etc

Craig Sinclair, Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Public Health Committee, said while this graphic advertisement isn’t easy to look at, it clearly illustrates the risks of drinking too many sugary drinks.

“Frozen drinks in particular contain ridiculous amounts of added sugar – even more than a standard soft drink.”

“A mega $3 Slurpee contains more than 20 teaspoons of sugar.

That’s the same amount of sugar as nearly eight lemonade icy poles, and more than three times the maximum recommended by the World Health Organisation of six teaspoons a dayi.”

“At this time of year it’s almost impossible to escape the enormous amount of advertising and promotions for frozen drink specials on TV, social media and public transport,” Mr Sinclair said.

“These cheap frozen drinks might seem refreshing on a hot day, but we want people to realise they could easily be sucking down an entire week’s worth of sugar in a single sitting.”

A large frozen drink from most outlets costs just $1 – a deal that major outlets like 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks and KFC promote heavily.

LiveLighter campaign manager and dietitian Alison McAleese said drinking a large Slurpee every day this summer could result in nearly 2kg of weight gain in a year if these extra kilojoules aren’t burnt

“This summer, Aussies could be slurping their way towards weight gain, obesity and toxic fat, increasing their risk of 13 types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and tooth decay,” Ms McAleese said.

“When nearly two thirds of Aussie adults and a third of kids are overweight or obese, it’s completely irresponsible for these companies to be actively promoting excessive consumption of drinks completely overloaded with sugar.

“And while this campaign focuses on the weight-related health risks, we can’t ignore the fact that sugary drinks are also a leading cause of tooth decay in Australia, with nearly half of children aged 2– 16 drinking soft drink every day.ii 

“We’re hoping once people realise just how unhealthy these frozen drinks are, they consider looking to other options to cool off.

“Water is ideal, but even one lemonade icy pole, with 2.7tsp of sugar, is a far better option than a Slurpee or Frozen Coke.”

Mr Sinclair said a health levy on sugary drinks is one of the policy tools needed to help address the growing impact of weight and diet-related health problems in Australia.

“Not only can a 20% health levy help deter people from these cheap and very unhealthy drinks, it will help recover some of the significant costs associated with obesity and the increasing burden this puts on our public health care system,” he said.

This advertising will hit bus and tram stops around Victoria this week and will run for two weeks. #



About LiveLighter: LiveLighter® is a public health education campaign encouraging Australian adults to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink, and being more active.

In Victoria, the campaign is delivered by Cancer Council Victoria and Heart Foundation Victoria. In Western Australia, LiveLighter is delivered by Heart Foundation WA and Cancer Council WA.

For more healthy tips, recipes and advice visit

About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Australian Dental Association, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Healthier Workplace WA, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Stroke Foundation, Parents’ Voice, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption.

Visit for more information.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Junkfood #Sugarydrinks #Sugartax @AMAPresident says Advertising and marketing of #junkfood and #sugarydrinks to children should be banned


 ” Poor nutrition has been linked to the reduced health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, contributing to conditions known to disproportionately affect this population, including type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and some cancers.

Twenty two per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in a household that has, in the past 12 months, run out of food and not been able to purchase more. Food insecurity increases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in remote areas.

Efforts to Close the Gap must recognise the potential impacts of improved nutrition on health outcomes, as well as the implications of food insecurity “

AMA Position Statement on Nutrition 2018

Download AMA Position Statement on Nutrition 2018

Advertising and marketing of junk food and sugary drinks to children should be banned, and a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages should be introduced as a matter of priority, the AMA says.

Releasing the AMA Position Statement on Nutrition 2018, AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today that eating habits and attitudes toward food are established in early childhood.

“Improving the nutrition and eating habits of Australians must become a priority for all levels of government,” Dr Gannon said.

“Governments should consider the full complement of measures available to them to support improved nutrition, from increased nutrition education and food literacy programs through to mandatory food fortification, price signals to influence consumption, and restrictions on food and beverage advertising to children.

“Eating habits and attitudes start early, and if we can establish healthy habits from the start, it is much more likely that they will continue throughout adolescence and into adulthood.

“The AMA is alarmed by the continued, targeted marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks to children.

“Children are easily influenced, and this marketing – which takes place across all media platforms, from radio and television to online, social media, and apps – undermines healthy food education and makes eating junk food seem normal.

“Advertising and marketing unhealthy food and drink to children should be prohibited altogether, and the loophole that allows children to be exposed to junk food and alcohol advertising during coverage of sporting events must be closed.

“The food industry claims to subscribe to a voluntary code, but the reality is that this kind of advertising is increasing. The AMA calls on the food industry to stop this practice immediately.”

The Position Statement also calls for increased nutrition education and support to be provided to new or expecting parents, and notes that good nutrition during pregnancy is also vital.

It recognises that eating habits can be affected by practices at institutions such as child care centres, schools, hospitals, and aged care homes.

“Whether people are admitted to hospital or just visiting a friend or family member, they can be very receptive to messages from doctors and other health workers about healthy eating,” Dr Gannon said.

“Hospitals and other health facilities must provide healthy food options for residents, visitors, and employees.

“Vending machines containing sugary drinks and unhealthy food options should be removed from all health care settings, and replaced with machines offering only healthy options.

“Water should be the default beverage option, including at fast food restaurants in combination meals where soft drinks are typically provided as the beverage.”

NACCHO Campaign 2013 : We should health advice from the fast food industry !

Key Recommendations:

·         Advertising and marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children to be prohibited.

·         Water to be provided as the default beverage option, and a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to be introduced.

·         Healthy foods to be provided in all health care settings, and vending machines containing unhealthy food and drinks to be removed.

·         Better food labelling to improve consumers’ ability to distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars.

·         Regular review and updating of national dietary guidelines and associated clinical guidelines to reflect new and emerging evidence.

·         Continued uptake of the Health Star Rating system, as well as refinement to ensure it provides shoppers with the most pertinent information.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Food insecurity

Food insecurity occurs when people have difficulty or are unable to access appropriate amounts of food.13

It has been estimated that four per cent of Australians experience food insecurity,14 though it is likely the extent of the problem is much higher.

Food insecurity is associated with a range of factors, including unstable living situations, geographic isolation and poor health.

It is more prevalent in already disadvantaged communities. In households with limited incomes, food budgets can be seen as discretionary and less of a priority.

This can result in disrupted eating habits and an over-reliance on less nutritious foods.

Food insecurity can have significant health implications, such as increased hospitalisation and iron deficiency anemia (in children) and increased kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and mental health issues (among adolescents and adults).

Poor nutrition has been linked to the reduced health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, contributing to conditions known to disproportionately affect this population, including type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and some cancers.16

Twenty two per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in a household that has, in the past 12 months, run out of food and not been able to purchase more. Food insecurity increases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in remote areas.17

Efforts to Close the Gap must recognise the potential impacts of improved nutrition on health outcomes, as well as the implications of food insecurity. The development and implementation of potential solutions must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The nutrition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities may be heavily dependent on Outback Stores. The 2009 Parliamentary Inquiry ‘Everybody’s Business: Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Community Stores’ resulted in a number of practical recommendations to increase the availability and affordability of healthy foods in Outback Stores, many of which have not been implemented.


These Stores, in consultation with local communities, should prioritise and facilitate access to affordable nutritious foods.

The AMA Position Statement on Nutrition 2018 is available at


NACCHO Aboriginal #ChooseHealth wishes you a very Healthy Xmas and #sugarfree 2018 New Year #SugaryDrinksProperNoGood

 ”  This campaign is straightforward – sugary drinks are no good for our health.It’s calling on people to drink water instead of sugary drinks.’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Cape York and throughout all our communities experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease compared to other Australians.’

‘Regular consumption of sugary drinks is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. It is well established that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and some cancers. Consumption of sugary drinks is also associated with poor dental health.

Water is the best drink for everyone – it doesn’t have any sugar and keeps our bodies healthy.’

Apunipima Public Health Advisor Dr Mark Wenitong

WATCH Apunipima Video HERE

“We tell ‘em kids drink more water; stop the sugar. It’s good for all us mob”

Read over 30 NACCHO articles Health and Nutrition HERE

 ” Let’s be honest, most countries and communities (and especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders ) now face serious health challenges from obesity.

Even more concerning, so do our kids.

While no single mission will be the panacea to a complex problem, using 2017 to set a new healthy goal of giving sugar the kick would be a great start.

Understand sugar, be aware of it, minimise it and see it for what it is – a special treat for a rare occasion.

This New Year’s, make breaking up with sugar your planned resolution.

“Hey sugar – it’s not me, it’s you…”

Alessandro R Demaio  Global Health Doctor; Co-Founded NCDFREE & festival21; Assoc. Researcher, University of Copenhagen and NACCHO supporter ( First Published 2016 see in full below )


We recommend the Government establish obesity prevention as a national priority, with a national taskforce, sustained funding and evaluation of key measures including:

  • Laws to stop exposure of children to unhealthy food and drink marketing on free to air television until 9.30 pm
  • Mandatory healthy food star rating from July 2019 along with stronger food reformulation targets
  • A national activity strategy to promote walking, cycling and public transport use
  • A 20 per cent health levy on sugary drinks

Australia enjoys enviable health outcomes but that is unlikely to last if we continue to experience among the world’s highest levels of obesity.

 CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells

NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthStarRating and #Nutrition @KenWyattMP Free healthy choices food app will dial up good tucker

” Weight gain spikes sharply during the Christmas and New Year holiday period with more than half of the weight we gain during our lifetime explained just by the period between mid-November and mid-January.

Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA

 ” Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

The study used computer modelling to simulate daily activities like food and beverage shopping of the populations of three U.S. cities – Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

It found that warning labels in locations that sell sugary drinks, including grocery and corner stores, reduced both obesity and overweight prevalence in the three cities, declines that the authors say were attributable to the reduced caloric intake.

The virtual warning labels contained messaging noting how added sugar contributes to tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.

The findings, which were published online December 14 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, demonstrates how warning labels can result in modest but statistically significant reductions in sugary drink consumption and obesity and overweight prevalence.”

Diabetes Queensland : Warning labels can help reduce sugary drinks consumption and obesity, new study suggests


Global recognition is building for the very real health concerns posed by large and increasing quantities of hidden sugar in our diets. This near-ubiquitous additive found in products from pasta sauces to mayonnaise has been in the headlines and in our discussions.

The seemingly innocuous sweet treat raises eyebrows from community groups to policy makers – and change is in the air.

Let’s review some of the sugar-coated headers from 2016 :

  • The global obesity epidemic continued to build while more than two-in-three Australian adults faced overweight or obesity – and almost one in four of our children.
  • Science around sugary drinks further solidified, with consumption now linked to obesity, childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes (type-2), dental caries and even lower fertility.
  • Australians were estimated to consume a staggering 76 litres of sugary drinks each since January alone, and new reports highlighted that as much as 15% of the crippling health costs associated with obesity could result from sugary drinks consumption.
  • Meanwhile around the planet, more countries took sound policy measures to reduce sugar consumption in their citizens. France, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, Chile, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and many parts of the United States implemented, continued or planned the implementation of pricing policies for sugary drinks.

In short, the over-consumption of sugar is now well recognised as a public health challenge everywhere.

With all this in mind and a New Year ahead, it’s time to put big words into local action. With resolutions brewing, here are seven helpful tips to breaking up with sugar in 2017.

1. Understand sugar

When it comes to sugar, things can get pretty confusing. Below, I shed some light on the common misunderstandings, but let’s recheck sugar itself – in simplest terms.

Sugar is a type of refined carbohydrate and a source of calories in our diet. Our body uses sugar and other sources of calories as energy, and any sugar that is not used is eventually stored as fat in our liver or on our bellies.

“Free sugars” are those added to products or concentrated in the products – either by us or by the manufacturer. They don’t include sugars in whole fruits and vegetables, but more on that later. For a range of health reasons, the World Health Organization recommends we get just 5% of our daily calories from free sugars. For a fully grown man or woman, this equates to a recommended limit to sugar consumption of roughly 25 grams – or 6 teaspoons. For women, it’s a little less again.

Consume more than this, and our risk of health problems rises.

2. Quit soft drinks

With 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single bottle serving – that’s more than 64 grams – there’s nothing “soft” about soft drinks. Including all carbonated drinks, flavoured milks and energy drinks with any added sugars, as well as fruit drinks and juices, sugary drinks are a great place to focus your efforts for a healthier 2018. Sugary drinks provide no nutritional value to our diets and yet are a major source of calories.


What’s more concerning, evidence suggests that when we drink calories in the form of sugary drinks, our brains don’t recognise these calories in the same way as with foods. They don’t make us feel “full” and could even make us hungrier – so we end up eating (and drinking) more. In this way, liquid calories can be seen as even more troubling than other forms of junk foods. Combine this with studies that suggest the pleasure (and sugar spike) provided by sugary drinks may make them hard to give up – and it’s not difficult to see why many of us are drinking higher amounts, more often and in larger servings. This also makes cutting down harder.

The outcome is that anything up to one-seventh of the entire public cost of obesity in Australia could now result from sugary drinks. In other words, cut out the sugary drinks and you’ll be doing your own health a favour – and the health of our federal and state budgets.

3. Eat fruit, not juice

When it’s wrapped in a peel or a skin, fruit sugars are not a challenge to our health. In fact, the sugars in fruit are nature’s way of encouraging us to eat the fruit to begin with. Fruits like oranges, apples and pears contain important fibres. The “roughage” in our foods, this fibre is healthy in many ways but there are three in particular I will focus on. First, it slows our eating down; it is easy to drink a glass of juice squeezed from 7 apples, but much harder to eat those seven pieces whole. Second, it makes us feel full or satiated. And third, it slows the release of the sugars contained in fruit into our blood streams, thus allowing our bodies to react and use the energy appropriately, reducing our chances of weight gain and possibly even diabetes.

Juice, on the other hand, involves the removal of most of those fibres and even the loss of some of the important vitamins. What we don’t lose though, is the 21 grams or more than five teaspoons of sugar in each glass.

In short, eat fruit as a snack with confidence. But enjoy whole fruit, not juice.

4. Sugar by any other name

High-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and molasses – they all mean one thing: sugar.

As the public awakens to the health challenges posed by sugar, the industry turns to new ways to confuse consumers and make ‘breaking up’ more difficult. One such way is to use the many alternative names for sugar – instead of the ‘s’ word itself. Be on the lookout for:

Evaporated cane juice, golden syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose and more…

5. Eat whole foods where possible

Tomato sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings, gravies, taco sauces, savoury biscuits and breakfast cereals – these are just some of the many foods now often packed with hidden, added sugars.

A study found that 74% of packaged foods in an average American supermarket contain added sugars – and there is little evidence to suggest Australia would be dramatically different. Added to food to make it more enjoyable, and moreish, the next tip when avoiding such a ubiquitous additive is to eat whole foods.

It’s hard to hide sugar in plain flour, or a tomato, or frozen peas. Buying and cooking with mostly whole foods – not products – is a great way to ensure you and your family are not consuming added sugars unaware.

6. See beyond (un)healthy claims

Words like “wholesome”, “natural” and “healthy” are clad on many of our favourite ingredients. Sadly, they don’t mean much.

Even products that are full of sugar, like breakfast cereals and energy bars, often carry claims that aim to confuse and seduce us into purchase. Be wary – and be sure to turn the package over and read the ingredients and nutrition labelling where possible (and if time permits).

7. Be okay with sometimes

The final but crucial message in all of this is that eating or drinking sugar is not a sin. Sugar is still a part of our lives and something to enjoy in moderation. The occasional piece of cake, or late night chocolate – despite the popular narrative painted by industry to undermine efforts for true pricing on sugar – these occasional sweet treats are not the driving challenge for obesity. The problem is that sugary drinks, and sugar in our foods, have become every day occurrences.

With this in mind, let’s not demonise sugar but instead let’s see it for what it is. Enjoy some juice or bubbles from time to time but make water the default on an everyday basis. With the average can of cola containing 39 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar, be OK with sometimes.

Bitter truth

Let’s be honest, We now face serious health challenges from obesity.

Even more concerning, so do our kids.

Learn more about our ACCHO making Deadly Choices


NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health @KenWyattMP A Brave Young Aboriginal Dad’s Lifesaving Messages #diabetes #obesity, leading to #heart and #kidney failure.

“Jason strongly but humbly tells it like it is, there is no self-pity, just heartfelt statements of fact that apply to all Australians.

He pleads for everyone to re-think alcohol and drug use, including a special message for our Indigenous mob.

His words should be heeded by everyone but also reinforce my top Indigenous health priorities: Men’s health, kidney, eye and ear health, maternal and child health and reducing preventable hospital admissions.

His key message is for everybody, especially men, to look after themselves, so they can be there for their families and friends for as long as possible”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM paid tribute to his cousin’s bravery, talent, compassion and legacy.

Read over 330 NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health articles published by over the past 5 years

A heartbreaking video message has been released today, realising Jason Bartlett’s dying wish to raise awareness of the importance of men taking personal responsibility for their health.

View Jason’s Video Here

The 36 year old singer, songwriter and former television music show star recorded the video nine days before he passed away in Royal Perth Hospital in June, from complications of diabetes and obesity, leading to heart and kidney failure.

“In 2009, Jason made it through to the Top 24 on Australian Idol and continued his career after the show, writing, recording and performing with the popular Bartlett Brothers band,” Minister Wyatt said.

“We lost Jason shortly after he made the brave but agonising decision to cease dialysis. His final words are haunting and hard-hitting and ones he wanted every Australian to hear.

“His vision was always to change the world for the better through his music but his dream became to get the health message out.”

In the video, titled “Passing on Wisdom: Jason’s Diabetes Story”, the father of two tells how he was diagnosed with diabetes at 19 years of age. A combination of lack of health education and ignoring the danger signs gradually lead to a tragic sequence of chronic conditions that eventually took his sight and his mobility.

His key message is for everybody, especially men, to look after themselves, so they can be there for their families and friends for as long as possible.

“He wants all of us to take personal responsibility, listen to our loved ones and take advice from doctors and health professionals,” said the Minister.

“Jason says that looking after ourselves is an essential part of giving love to those around us.

“All of us are privileged to have shared in his amazing life and now we’re determined to share his quest to save the lives of others, through his message.

“If it can help just one person to make life-changing choices, Australia will be better for it, but I am sure his story will help many more consider changes that will lengthen and potentially save their lives.

“I’m joining with Jason’s family in encouraging everyone to watch his video, listen to his story and share it on social media, especially with those you love.”

Photo: Jason Bartlett’s wife Jaimee, brother Phil and family members launched the video with Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt. (Supplied: Family)

The video was produced by Jason Bartlett’s family, the University of Western Australia’s WA Centre for Rural Health, and media organisation Health Communication Resources.

It can also be shared from the WA Centre for Rural Health’s YouTube channel, at with a subtitled version at


NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @AIHW My Healthy Communities health risk factors including #Alcohol #HighBloodPressure #physicalinactivity

 ” Health risk factors are attributes, characteristics or exposures that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder.

Examples of health risk factors include risky alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and high blood pressure.

High-quality information on health risk factors is important in providing an evidence base to inform health policy, program and service delivery.”

From My Healthy Communities

New information on lifetime risky alcohol consumption, high blood pressure and insufficient physical activity are presented in the Fact Sheets below.

This update is accompanied by an interactive web tool that shows how your local area compares with the national average and allows comparison between each area.

These fact sheets display variation in health risk factors across Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

In 2014–15:

  • Around 1 in 6 Australian adults (17%) reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption
  • Over half of Australian adults (56%) reported insufficient physical activity participation
  • Almost 1 in 3 Australian adults (34%) had high blood pressure.

1.A lifetime risky alcohol consumption

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (aged 18 years and over) who reported consuming more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day on average—thereby increasing their lifetime risk of harm from alcohol consumption. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of lifetime risky alcohol consumption in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is lifetime risky alcohol consumption?

Alcohol consumption refers to the consumption of drinks containing ethanol, commonly referred to as alcohol. The quantity, frequency or regularity with which alcohol is drunk provides a measure of the level of alcohol consumption.

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption refers to Australian adults consuming more than 2 standard drinks per day on average. That is, alcohol consumption exceeding the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol (see Box 1 for more information).

Based on survey data from 2014–15, 17.4% of Australian adults reported lifetime risky alcohol consumption.

Lifetime risky alcohol consumption Fact Sheet (PDF, 184 KB)

2.Insufficient physical activity 

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (18 years and over) who reported insufficient levels of physical activity. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of insufficient physical activity in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is insufficient physical activity?

Physical activity is the expenditure of energy generated by moving muscles in the body. Most physical activity occurs during leisure time, or through active transport and incidental activity such as housework or gardening.

Insufficient physical activity refers to physical activity levels that do not meet the Department of Health’s Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines (see Box 1 for more information).

This includes adults (18–64 years) who did not complete more than 150 minutes of physical activity, on at least 5 sessions over a week, and older Australians (65+ years) who did not complete 30 minutes of activity on at least 5 days.

Based on self-reported survey data from 2014–15, 56.4% of Australian adults had insufficient levels of physical activity

Insufficient physical activity Fact Sheet (PDF, 186.1 KB)

3. High blood pressure

This fact sheet covers local-level results for the proportion of Australian adults (aged 18 years and over) who had high blood pressure and uncontrolled high blood pressure. Results are presented by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Please note, the results presented are crude rates, which reflect the actual level of high blood pressure in the community. However, caution is needed when making comparisons across PHNs as the rates presented do not account for differences in the age of the populations.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is defined in this fact sheet by the World Health Organization definition (see Box 1 for more information).

Uncontrolled high blood pressure as defined here refers to all people with measured high blood pressure, regardless of whether they are taking medication. It is presented for context in this fact sheet.

High blood pressure is an important and treatable cause of disease and death. It is a major risk factor for chronic diseases including stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

The modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure include poor diet (particularly high salt intake), obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and insufficient physical activity. Lifestyle changes and medication can help to control high blood pressure.

Based on survey data from 2014–15, 33.7% of Australian adults had high blood pressure. There were 23.0% of Australian adults who had uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure Fact Sheet (PDF, 209.2 KB

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AHPC_VU #AusHealthTracker report outlines growing health divide between the have and have nots

 ” Australia’s Health Tracker by Socio-Economic Status, a new report from the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University, shows close links between socio-economic disadvantage and poor health as the gap widens between the have and have not’s.

Ten million Australians in low socio-economic brackets are at high risk of dying early from chronic disease, an alarming snapshot of the nation’s health shows

Australians sitting in the lowest SES bracket are:

  • Four times more likely to die from diabetes
  • Three times more likely to die from a respiratory disease
  • Two and a half times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease
  • Seventy per cent more likely to suicide and
  • Sixty per cent more likely to die from cancer.

People in lower SES brackets have higher risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression.  

AHPC Director Rosemary Calder said the health divide in relation to chronic disease and risk factors is stark.

Download the Report


Chronic disease claimed the lives of 49,227 people before the age of 75 in lower socio-economic groups in the past four years – more than the capacity of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

“This is the story here, we are seeing working families struggle due to skyrocketing costs of housing, utilities and food and this is having a significant effect on their health outcomes,” she said.

Those often referred to as the working poor are at much greater risk of poor health, more likely to be obese, less likely to do exercise and much more likely to smoke, Professor Calder said.

Australia’s Health Tracker by Socio-Economic Status is not just about the health of communities who are most disadvantaged it alarmingly shows that the health of 40 per cent of Australians with low incomes – the working poor – is in jeopardy.”

“Being socially and economically disadvantaged is not only bad for your health it’s also much more likely to kill you,” Professor Calder said. “Our report shows not everyone has a fair go at living a long, healthy and prosperous life.”

But it’s not just the disadvantaged at risk. Australia’s Health Tracker data also shows alcohol is being consumed at risky levels in higher socio-economic groups. High cholesterol is another risk factor that affects the advantaged while rates of high blood pressure is evenly spread across all socio-economic groups.

Part 2 Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA)

This week Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) co-hosted the launch of Australia’s Health Tracker by Socio-Economic Status (SES), a new report by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University.

The report highlights the growing health disparities in Australia which correlate closely with socio-economic status. Those in the lowest SES bracket experience significantly poorer health compared to those in the middle and highest brackets.

Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA said, “One of the key principles underpinning the work of the PHAA is the social determinants of health.

The Health Tracker is a clear illustration of these determinants at work. Those who experience social and economic disadvantage also experience a much higher risk of non-communicable disease such as diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. They are also much more likely to experience serious mental health issues.”

“These health conditions are often long-term and eventually result in an earlier death. This research illustrates that disadvantaged Australians are indeed more likely to die from one of these diseases. The report paints a stark picture of how one’s place on the social and economic ladder has a direct impact on life expectancy,” Mr Moore said.

The report shows that 40% of Australians on low incomes are currently experiencing decreased health.

Such poor health outcomes can be attributed to multiple factors including lack of access to healthcare, poor nutrition, high rates of obesity, and high smoking rates. The rising cost of living from the increasing prices of housing, utilities and food is also manifesting in poorer health outcomes in the population.

Mr Moore said, “Every year chronic disease is claiming the lives of thousands of Australians under 75 in lower socio-economic groups at an alarming rate. However, this is not adequately accounted for in our national health policy and programs. Instead of prioritising our most vulnerable, we are applying one-size-fits-all health policies.”

“Ultimately, the focus ought to be significantly increased funding in preventive health, as this is the simplest, most effective and economically sound solution. Currently, Australia invests a pathetic 1.5% of its health budget on preventive health measures and programs.

It really needs to be 5% of health spending as a bare minimum, and we are unlikely to see a meaningful reduction of chronic disease without this investment,” Mr Moore added.

“At present, one in two Australians have a chronic disease, and many have more than one condition. The good news is that almost a third of this could be entirely prevented with greater investment in public health initiatives designed to reduce obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption as well as increasing physical activity,” Mr Moore concluded.

Part 3 Are we dooming our children to a darker health future?

Latest figures on the diet and lifestyle of Australia’s children signal a troubling future for their health unless governments implement an effective national response , the Consumers Health Forum says.

“The Australia’s Health Tracker statistics released today should disturb us all as they indicate that many children now have higher risk factors for poor health than their parents,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said. “In many instances the risk factors are even worse for Indigenous children.

“The danger signals for our children are showing that in crucial aspects children are already following less healthy lifestyles and diets than their parents, in areas like physical activity and consumption of junk food and too much sugar.

“For instance, 70.8 per cent of children aged 5 – 11 years are not meeting physical activity recommendations and that compares with 44.5 per cent of adults. A brighter feature in the otherwise bleak picture for Indigenous children is that fewer, 40.5 per cent, do not meet the physical activity target.  But when it comes to children who are overweight or obese, 32.8 per cent of Indigenous children are in this category compared to 25.6 per cent for children overall in this age group.

“More than 70 per cent of children aged 9 – 13 years consume too much sugar compared to 47.8 per cent of adults.

“Is Australian society dooming its children too shorter, less healthy lives by failing to take the steps now that we need to take to encourage more physical activity and discourage unhealthy food and drink consumption?

“The picture portrayed in the Health Tracker data compiled by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration highlights the need for a systemic national approach to focus on common risk factors, tackling health inequities and disparities.

“Both medical leader, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, and financial guru Alan Kohler, told the National Press Club launch of the new report today that stronger preventive health measures would save our society billions in reducing illness and early death and avoidable hospital costs.  As Mr Kohler said, “sugar in my view needs to be more expensive” to reflect its cost to health care.

“Currently Australia dedicates only 1.5 per cent of its health expenditure to prevention which could help reduce the widespread incidence of chronic disease that afflicts one in every two Australians.  What is needed now would not bankrupt the budget. But it would represent a healthy investment in Australia’s future,” Ms Wells said.

“We need to rethink prevention and take a longer-term view about where we should be investing in health.”




NACCHO Aboriginal #HealthStarRating and #Nutrition @KenWyattMP Free healthy choices food app will dial up good tucker

“Users simply scan the barcode of a product with their phone to see if it’s a healthy choice,

Once scanned, the app gives a ‘thumbs up’, ‘thumbs down’, or ‘thumbs sideways’ message, according to how healthy the product is.

“One of the app’s best features is that, once it’s downloaded, all the information is on your phone and there’s no need for the internet, so it’s ideal for people living in remote areas.”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said the Uncle Jimmy’s Good Tucker app was easy to use and a first for remote communities.

Read over 30 NACCHO Articles about Healthy Food and Nutrition

The GOOD TUCKER app has been launched with the intention to assist people living in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make healthier food and beverage choices at the local store.

Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM gave the official thumbs up to the free app today. The app allows shoppers to scan a food or beverage product’s barcode and instantly reveal if it is a healthy option, should be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether.


The app has been championed by the Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies), the University of South Australia (UnisSA) and Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up! , which has been promoting awareness and the benefits of a healthy diet to Indigenous children for more than 10 years.

Graham “Buzz” Bidstrup, CEO of Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up!, said there was an overwhelming need for the app.

“We know that there is over consumption of ultra-processed foods particularly in remote Indigenous Australian communities. These foods are typically energy dense and high in added sugar and salt which fuels the obesity epidemic and a raft of early onset chronic diseases.

“The GOOD TUCKER app shows at a glance how healthy or unhealthy a product is with a simple thumbs up, sideways or down message. The Thumbs rating is derived from a combination of the products’ Health Star Rating and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ discretionary food classification,” Mr Bidstrup said.

The app has been more than two years in the making with joint input from Menzies, UniSA and Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up!.

Associate Professor Julie Brimblecombe, head of the nutrition program at Menzies, said she hoped the GOOD TUCKER app would help to tackle the significant health gap facing many people living in remote communities.

We know that nutrition plays a huge role in contributing to poor health. Making even small changes to our diets, such as consuming a little less salt and added sugar, and eating less fat (particularly saturated fat) and energy (kilojoules) could help prevent diseases including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

This app will help people to change their shopping habits as well as generate new learning about healthy food choices for community residents and store managers,” Assoc Prof Brimblecombe said.

The GOOD TUCKER app, which is powered by the highly successful FoodSwitch app, provides Thumbs ratings for tens of thousands of products on sale in food stores all across Australia.

It also provides guidance about take-away foods, such as pizzas and burgers and other non-packaged, non-barcoded items like fresh fruit and vegetables.

Prior to the launch the app was trialled by Indigenous musicians and performers at the Bush Band Bash concert in Central Australia , Wiraduri woman, Johanna Campbell said she found it educational and easy to use and is looking forward to it being introduced into rural and remote communities across Australia.

“The GOOD TUCKER app is great. To be able to scan the barcode on a food packet to find out if it is healthy or not will be really useful. Some foods are not so obviously unhealthy, so to be able to receive a thumbs up, sideways or down will help buy healthier options at the store,” Ms Campbell said.

Dr Tom Wycherley from UniSA’s Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), said the app uses imagery and branding that is easily interpretable and familiar to communities.

“The GOOD TUCKER app builds on existing Thumbs Up! branding that has been seen in many communities for over 10 years and provides information in a culturally appropriate form. Early feedback is really positive but the real test now will be to see if this can noticeably change food choices.”

A full evaluation of the app is planned to take place after the release.

The GOOD TUCKER app works on:

1. Apple mobile devices that have a camera with auto-focus. Requires iOS 7.0 or later.

2.Android devices running versions 4.0.x and above that have a camera with autofocus.

As all the information is in the app there is no need for the user to be in internet or phone range to use the app

Part 2 Minister Wyatt’s Press Release  :Free healthy food app dials up good tucker for remote Indigenous communities

A new mobile phone app launched today promises to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas make healthy food choices.

The thumbs rating is based on the Government’s Health Star Rating system and the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

“The app is named in honour of legendary singer Jimmy Little, who established the Jimmy Little Foundation and dedicated much of his life to promoting better Indigenous health,” said Minister Wyatt.

“People in remote communities can face considerable food challenges, from the combination of limited supplies, particularly the difficulty in getting fresh fruit and vegetables, and limited storage.

“Uncle Jimmy’s app will complement our work to make good food more accessible in remote areas, through the Outback Stores scheme. The accredited stores provide healthy food cheaper than in other remote area stores and implement a nutrition strategy that includes health promotion activities and cooking demonstrations.

“Improving food choices is one of the most effective ways of helping close the gap in Indigenous health, with poor diet behind 10 per cent of diseases.”

The Good Tucker app was created by the Jimmy Little Foundation, in partnership with the Menzies School of Health Research, the University of South Australia and the George Institute for Global Health.

The app links with the Health Star Ratings system, which has more than 7,500 food products displaying the Health Star Rating logo.


The GOOD TUCKER app was developed by Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up!, The University of South Australia and Menzies School of Health Research in partnership with The George Institute, to provide a simple way for people to identify the healthiest food and drink options available in stores.

Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up! was established in 2007 by legendary Australian entertainer Dr. Jimmy Little AO with veteran musician and founding CEO Graham “Buzz” Bidstrup.

The Thumbs Up! program uses music and new media to bring awareness of good nutrition and healthy lifestyle to Indigenous children living in regional and remote communities across Australia. Thumbs Up! engages with the whole of community, including traditional owner groups, schools, local food stores, health services and community groups.

 How do I get the Good Tucker app?

iPhone1 users: Download Good Tucker from the App Store1, either online or on your device.

Android2 smartphone users: Download Good Tucker from Google Play2, either online or on your Android smartphone.

The app is free of charge. An internet connection (mobile/cellular data or Wi-Fi) is required to download it and to share information by social media and email. Standard usage charges may apply – check with your internet and mobile service providers for more information.

Once the Good Tucker app has been downloaded onto your phone you do NOT need to have phone or internet connection for it to operate. All information on products will be stored on the phone.

Other FAQs about the APP

Welcome to the Good Tucker APP!

A simple and easy way of checking out how healthy a food product is.

Download from

Aboriginal Heart Health @AHPC_VU #HeartHealth: the first step in getting Australia’s health on track


” One Australian dies every 12 minutes from CVD including heart attack and stroke – 40 percent prematurely. People with type 2 diabetes are 3-4 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. People with CVD are also at risk of kidney disease.”

Australia spends more on cardiovascular diseases than on any other disease group (3). The costs of CVD amount to over 12% of all health care expenditure. In 2011, CVD was the second most burdensome disease group in Australia, causing 15% of the total $4.5 million disability-adjusted life years lost (4).

Diseases of the circulatory system are also closely associated with other major chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arthritis.

This policy paper builds upon the work of the National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance (NVDPA) and leading Australian health researchers to reinvigorate and reinforce the case for preventing CVD and its risk factors and in turn, to reduce disability, comorbidity and premature death.

These experts agree that the most important next step that the Australian Government should take to prevent and manage CVD is promoting an Absolute Cardiovascular Risk Assessment in primary practice.

The experts called for:

Targeted screening and treatment for absolute risk assessment of cardiovascular disease for adults aged 45–74 years and from 35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in line with guidelines.”

Heart Health: the first step in getting Australia’s health on track

 ” The National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance (NVDPA) has today supported calls for heart and stroke disease risk assessments to be embedded alongside type 2 diabetes and kidney disease risk assessment in routine GP visits for everyone over 45.

Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) released the policy paper Heart Health: the first step in getting Australia’s health on track in Canberra today.”

Download a copy : Heart Health: the first step in getting Australia’s health on track



Read over 30 Aboriginal Heart Health articles HERE

 ” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are up to three times more likely to suffer a stroke than non-Indigenous Australians and almost twice as likely to die, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics “

Read over 70 Aboriginal Stroke Health articles HERE

Read over 130 Aboriginal Diabetes Health Articles HERE

The paper recommends a national investment in Absolute Cardiovascular Risk Assessment (ACVR) screening and outlines a national primary care strategy to reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease (CVD) on the community.

This paper builds on the NVDPA proposal for an integrated health check for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

NVDPA member and Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said regular integrated health checks delivered by GPs will ensure people at high risk were identified and managed.

“Chronic diseases are Australia’s greatest health challenge and leading cause of illness, disability and death. However, much of this burden could be prevented through early detection and early treatment,’’ Ms McGowan said.

“Integrated health checks will help ensure Australians stay alive, stay well longer and stay out of hospital.”

AHPC Director Professor Rosemary Calder said embedding risk assessments into GP visits would be the single most effective strategy for chronic disease prevention.

The NVDPA and AHPC both recommend that integrated risk assessments be supported by the Medicare Benefits Schedule and promoted through the community and Primary Health Networks.

The AHPC Heart Health report was developed in collaboration with leading national clinical and policy experts and in consultation with the Royal Australian College of General Practice and the NVDPA.

The NVDPA includes the Stroke Foundation, the National Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia and Diabetes Australia.

The Heart Health report follows the AHPC’s policy roadmap, Getting Australia’s Health on Track, 2016 which aims to significantly reduce preventable illness and disability.

See NACCHO Aboriginal Health Alert #GetonTrack Report : The ten things we need to do to improve our health 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #RHD @RHDAustralia and @MenziesResearch release an educational short film on rheumatic heart disease in pregnancy

“I chose to help create this film because I wanted to help young women living with RHD and make sure they can access information about contraception, pregnancy and planning for a baby.

What is the take home message from the film?

“The film points out the main needs of a young woman living with RHD to help care for herself, her heart and her baby. The film re-assures young women with RHD that they can have a normal healthy pregnancy; they just need to take extra care of themselves.”

RHDAustralia sat down with one of the directors, Ms Kenya McAdam, a 21 year old Jaru and Kira woman from Halls Creek, Western Australia currently living in Katherine, Northern Territory.

See Kenya’s full story PART 2 Below

For Kenya this film was deeply personal and an intimate reflection on life as a young woman living with RHD. Kenya developed RHD at 15 years old and required open heart surgery within 3 months of diagnosis. Since that time, Kenya has worked with RHDAustralia to raise awareness about this 100% preventable disease.

The target audience for this film is girls and young women from ages 13 to 20s who have mild to moderate RHD

You can find these films and other important resources on the RHDAustralia resource page.

NACCHO and AMA support RHD Prevention

With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians still 20 times more likely to die from RHD, the AMA’s call for firm targets and a comprehensive and consultative strategy is welcome. We encourage governments to adopt these recommendations immediately.

“As noted by the AMA, it is absolutely critical that governments work in close partnership with Aboriginal health bodies. Without strong community controlled health services, achieving these targets for reducing RHD will be impossible.

While this is a long term challenge, the human impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are being felt deeply right now. Action is required urgently.

NACCHO is standing ready to work with the AMA and governments to develop and implement these measures. We have to work together and we have to do it now.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson Matthew Cooke pictured above at Danila Dilba Health Service NT with AMA President Dr Michael Gannon

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #RHD : AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health highlights need for Aboriginal community controlled services

The RHD Story

A new film written and directed by a group of Northern Territory Indigenous women follows the story of Tess, a young women whose boyfriend, Jamie, reveals his desire to start a family.

While surprised and happy, she’s not told Jamie about her rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

She’s not sure how her heart disease will affect her pregnancy or if she can have a baby at all. Looking for answers, Tess turns to her best mate, her mum and the local health clinic for guidance on what to do next.

Will they have the answers?

The film will be launched in Bagot Community, Darwin on 6 October. Sharing a Heartbeat is freely available in English and Kriol with plans to make the film available in more Indigenous languages.

You can find these films and other important resources on the RHDAustralia resource page.  Additional print resources are linked with the English and Kriol through the resource page on our website.

By embracing two-ways learning and a spirit of cross cultural cooperation, RHDAustralia and Menzies School of Health Research are proud to announce the completion of the first ever   educational short film on rheumatic heart disease in pregnancy entitled Sharing a Heartbeat.

Hi Kenya, why did you decide to get involved in the creation of this film?

“I chose to help create this film because I wanted to help young women living with RHD and make sure they can access information about contraception, pregnancy and planning for a baby.

What is the take home message from the film?

“The film points out the main needs of a young woman living with RHD to help care for herself, her heart and her baby. The film re-assures young women with RHD that they can have a normal healthy pregnancy; they just need to take extra care of themselves.”

From a personal perspective, the film answered my unanswered questions. For other young women with RHD, I think it will help them understand more about approaching pregnancy.”

Having Kenya involved from the very start was central to ensuring the film was produced from a patient centric, woman centric and gender sensitive standpoint. But of equal importance was making certain it was developed to be culturally appropriate and safe. This was accomplished by including Indigenous women throughout the process, whether in the design, development, testing or making of the resource.

One of the key contributors alongside Kenya was Noeletta McKenzie whose daughter, Raychelle, was diagnosed with RHD four years ago at the age of nine. Noeletta’s been involved in numerous community development projects in Maningrida and Darwin and was quick to answer a call for assistance with the making of the film. “I saw the advertisement on the RHDAustralia Facebook page and enquired about how I could support with the development of the resource.” Noeletta helped to co-write the film and to guide and consult the actors on set.

When asked about why it was important to have Indigenous women involved in the making of the film she told us “I feel that as the resource is targeted at Indigenous young women, we needed to ensure that they were featured. It’s also about cultural safety and cultural context, educating our young women in our way.”
Leading by example, Noeletta is instilling these qualities into her daughter as well. When asked if the film has helped her daughter learn more about her RHD, Noeletta said “She’s well aware of the disease and how as a young woman it has affected her life. She would like to be a part of an advisory group to share her experience and pass on her knowledge.”


There were many people involving in the making of this film and we would like to thank the actors, directors, writers, and producers for producing such a well-crafted and meaningful film that is educational, culturally responsive, collaborative and meaningful. This film was produced by RHDAustralia and made possible with a grant from NTPHN.


Literature reviews and content surveillance of health promotion material from Australia and New Zealand shows that there is very little information available for girls and women who have RHD. A recently completed study conducted by the Australian Maternity Outcomes Surveillance System (AMOSS) has shown that for Indigenous women in Australia, there are many misconceptions around rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and how it can impact their pregnancies.

Films directed by Indigenous women on any content are rare. Rheumatic heart disease is up to twice as common in women, and tends to affect women during their child bearing years. There is a 30-50% increased cardiac workload in normal pregnancy.

The target audience for this film is girls and young women from ages 13 to 20s who have mild to moderate RHD.

Part 2 Rheumatic heart disease a blight on Indigenous population

When Kenya McAdam wasn’t bedridden as a child, she would drag herself to school and sit in the classroom. “I wouldn’t move,” says the 21-year-old childcare worker, whose current good health is proof that she has survived rheumatic heart disease.

From The Australian

But Australia has a high level of the disease, which is caused by a bacterial infection of the throat and skin and is common in poverty-stricken nations.

Some of the nation’s leading medical researchers are meeting today in Darwin to create a plan to wipe out the life-threatening condition, which disproportionately affects indigenous Australians.

Pediatrician Jonathan Carapetis, who has led research efforts for 20 years, says young people such as Ms McAdam are up to 122 times more likely to contract the disease than non-indigenous youngsters. And it affects one in 43 indigenous people living in ­remote and rural Australia.

“It’s entirely preventable, yet the rates of this devastating condition among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are among the highest in the world,” says Professor Carapetis, director of Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute. “It should no longer exist in Australia.”

Rheumatic heart disease can result in permanent damage to the heart if it is not treated with antibiotics. It is caused by a bacterial infection of the throat and skin, which can result in heart failure and other complications, including stroke, without antibiotic treatment.

Ms McAdam’s life was saved by heart surgery to repair leaky valves after a cardiac arrest and years of breathlessness. “My mum thought that only older people suffer from heart attacks,” she said.

Her younger brother and sister must endure a painful penicillin injection every month for up to 10 years to prevent further infections.

But many affected indigenous youth fail to receive more than half their monthly penicillin requirement. More than 2600 ­people in the Northern Territory have rheumatic heart disease, while sufferers in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley Region are recorded as dying at an average age of 41.

Professor Carapetis said research institutes around Australia were collaborating on ways to prevent and treat streptococcus infections that lead to the disease, such as long-acting penicillin or an antibacterial vaccine.

Heather D’Antoine, from Menzies School of Health Research’s Aboriginal Programs, said today’s meeting to discuss lifesaving initiatives “can’t come soon enough”.

“The impact on our community is devastating; children must travel for heart surgery; young adults live with premature disability; and pregnant women face high-risk pregnancies,” she said.