Review of Cardiovascular Disease Programs

8.1 Peak Bodies

Peak Bodies - Current Programs - Review of Cardiovascular Disease Programs

Page last updated: 03 May 2012

Peak bodies are not-for-profit non-government organisations, whose activities are funded from a range of sources, including states and territories, the Australian Government, bequests, donations and fund raising activities.


8.1.1 National Stroke Foundation (NSF)

NSF is the peak body in Australia for stroke, and supports specific activities to improve the identification and treatment of stroke. These include:
  • Clinical Guidelines for Acute Stroke Management – the 2003 guidelines were reviewed and updated in 2007.
  • The 2007 National Stroke Audit – undertaken in 2007 to determine the nature of stroke services across Australia, how they are monitored and to identify where resources might be inadequate for service delivery. The first-ever post acute stroke audit took place in 2008, and will be repeated in 2009.
  • Acute Stroke Service Framework – a framework to enable the delivery and monitoring of optimal acute stroke care across Australia.
  • National Stroke Week – the basis for continuing public education about stroke awareness and prevention in the community.
  • strokesafe Seminars – seminar kits provide health professionals with the necessary resources to organise and deliver an educational presentation about stroke prevention in the community. The strokesafe awards recognise the efforts of health professionals and community groups who support the awareness campaign.
  • Know your numbers – an annual blood pressure awareness campaign. The program aims to make people aware of the importance of regular blood checks and aware of the link between blood pressure and stroke. Pressure stations are established in the local community to encourage people to check their blood pressure and to provide them with information about how to keep their blood pressure low and reduce their risk of stroke. This will be rolled out in Queensland from 2009 as an ongoing program through pharmacy.
  • FAST – the NSF’s ongoing campaign to educate the general public about the signs of stroke, emphasising stroke as a medical emergency and the highlighting the need for people to call ‘000’ if they experience the signs of stroke in the themselves or someone else.
  • Hospital Peer Support Program – a pilot program that provided information to stroke survivors preparing to leave hospital and return home. This program has not yet been permanently rolled out. NSF provides some peer support programs through stroke support groups in Western Australia and Tasmania and will be delivering phone peer support and an online forum in 2009.
  • Friends of NSF - the National Stroke Foundation has also established the Friends of NSF program to keep stroke support group facilitators informed about new programs, resources and funding for National Stroke Week activities. The program also provides community grants to stroke support groups to assist in National Stroke Week activities.
  • strokelink - a QA program that links the evidence with practice through the audit process. Hospitals work with the strokelink team to evaluate gaps in their services as identified through audit, then develop and implement action plans to improve adherence to recommendations of care. The impact of the program at a local level is evaluated with a repeat of the stroke audit.
  • GP education program – developing and delivering modules that educate GPs about evidence based practice. The first module on transient ischaemic attack (TIA) was released in 2008, with modules on antiplatelets, and a trial fibrillation is to be released next year.
  • strokeline – a ‘1800’ telephone service providing education and information to the public about stroke prevention and stroke recovery. NSF receives calls about both prevention and recovery, but the majority are from people in the community who have had a stroke (or their families) who require more information/support.
  • The Australian Stroke Coalition (ASC) – NSF co-chairs and provides secretariat support and funding for the coalition, which brings together professional organisations (such as RACP, AFRM, colleges of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, state stroke networks and consumers) to coordinate activities in the stroke space in Australia. The ASC has five working groups looking at acute stroke, stroke units, education and workforce, community care and rehabilitation.
  • NSF funds research into stroke and quality of life, and will be providing funding to increase stroke research capacity in Australia in 2009.
  • Next year NSF will also be developing programs for exercise instructors and counsellors to be more informed about the needs of people who have experienced stroke, as part of the stroke support strategy.

Ernst & Young has met with key representatives of the NSF individually and in a workshop held on the 15th December 2008. In addition Ernst & Young has considered a number of documents provided by the NSF.


8.1.2 National Heart Foundation (NHF)

NHF is the peak body in Australia for cardiac disease and undertakes a range of activities to reduce death and suffering from cardiac disease. These include funding medical and scientific research, public education, promoting lifestyles that improve cardiovascular health, developing clinical guidelines and conducting programs that improve heart health, including the following:
  • Research - The Heart Foundation will provide $13.5m for cardiovascular research in 2009 through its research program. Since it was formed in 1959, the Heart Foundation has funded CVD research totalling nearly $200m.
  • Heart Health Information Service - Since 1998, the Heart Foundation has provided a dedicated telephone information service (1300 36 27 87) staffed by trained professionals, providing information about heart health issues for the cost of a local call. Some 30,000 callers are helped with advice and printed resources each year.
  • Clinical Guidelines - The Heart Foundation produces a number of clinical guidelines including guidelines on hypertension, blood lipids, acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, heart failure and acute coronary syndromes.
  • Consumer Resources - Consumer resources developed and published by the Heart Foundation include resources on living well with chronic heart failure, children with heart problems, coronary angioplasty and stent implantation, how to be smoke-free, losing weight the healthy way and nutrition and physical activity advice for parents and carers.
  • Heart Foundation Tick - The Heart Foundation Tick program was launched in 1989 and has now been extended to food eaten out of the home, including restaurants and caterers.
  • Heart Foundation Programs - The Heart Foundation runs a number of state/territory and national programs designed to help prevent cardiovascular disease and improve the quality of life for those living with CVD. Examples include:
    • Heart Foundation Walking, partly funded by the Federal Government;
    • Heartmoves;
    • Jump Rope for Heart; and
    • Heart Foundation Nurse Ambassador program (South Australia).
  • 'Warning signs' campaign - The Heart Foundation has conducted campaigns to raise awareness of the warning signs of heart attack and the importance of dialling 000 and getting help fast. The Heart Foundation has made the warning signs campaign a major priority under the current five year strategic plan, 'Championing Hearts'.
  • Go Red for Women - The Go Red for Women campaign raises awareness about the heavy toll CVD takes on women.
  • Heart Week - In May each year, the Heart Foundation runs Heart Week, a national week of activity to raise awareness about CVD prevention. Public education campaigns are also conducted on key priorities such as women and heart disease, the importance of healthy weight and warning signs of heart attack.
  • Indigenous Programs - The Heart Foundation has an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD program supporting initiatives such as cardiac rehabilitation programs for Indigenous people and developing and promoting the implementation of acute rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease developed healthy food purchasing guidelines for remote community store managers. The Heart Foundation is working to reduce Indigenous smoking rates and reduce the gap for Indigenous inhospital CVD intervention rates.
  • Tobacco Control – The Heart Foundation activities include public awareness campaigns on smoking, the development of consumer resources, strong advocacy, the provision of expert advice to government and close cooperation with other public health organisations. The Heart Foundation also provides support and funding for Action on Smoking and Health.
  • Healthy Spaces and Places - The Heart Foundation is working in partnership with the Australian Local Government Association and the Planning Institute of Australia on the ‘Healthy Spaces and Places Project’, with funding assistance from the Federal Government. The project aims to promote ongoing development and improvement of built environments to facilitate lifelong active living and promote good health outcomes for Australians.
  • Local Government Awards - The Heart Foundation Local Government Awards were established in 1992 to provide an opportunity for Local Governments to celebrate their achievements in creating heart healthy communities. They recognise initiatives that encourage communities to be physically active, be smoke free and make healthy food choices.
  • Advocacy - The Heart Foundation advocates for improved prevention, treatment and care of people with CVD, promoting the need for a greater investment of resources to improve outcomes and reduce death and suffering. Outcomes include the introduction of the emergency '000' number in the 1980s. A long-held advocacy goal of the NHF is the establishment of a national cardiac procedures register.

Ernst & Young has met with key representatives of the NHF individually and in a workshop held on the 15th December 2008. In addition Ernst & Young has considered a number of documents provided by the NHF.
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