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New award to acknowledge stroke healthcare in Indigenous communities

Dechlan Brennan -

The Stroke Foundation has announced a new category for its 2024 awards, focusing on the Indigenous community.

The First Nations Stroke Excellence Award will honour excellence in stroke prevention, treatment, recovery or research in First Nations communities.

A recent study highlighted strokes occur more commonly, and at a younger age, in Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal people. Stroke incidence in Indigenous people was 2.9 fold greater than for a non-Indigenous person, and fatal incidence was 4.2 fold greater.

The findings urged better stroke prevention techniques and argued "interventions should include culturally appropriate community-based health promotion and integrated support for nonmetropolitan health services".

The Australian Stroke Alliance says for those Indigenous people who are under-55 years of age, the stroke incidence rate is six to nine-fold greater than non-Indigenous people.

Australia's first Aboriginal cardiologist, co-chair of our Indigenous Leadership Council and a member of the Yorta Yorta/Dja Wurrung nations, Associate Professor Luke Burchill, described the impact strokes have on Indigenous communities to the Australian Stroke Alliance, who he argued were "about keeping our communities strong and our culture alive".

"To understand the impact of stroke on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you need to look beyond the mortality and morbidity statistics," he said.

"You need to understand the cultural impact. With stroke occurring a decade earlier in Aboriginal people, we are losing our next generation of Elders."

The Stroke Foundation Executive Director Public Affairs and Media, Sarah Meredith, said the award was about highlighting the work, effort and impact of individuals and organisations in working towards healthy equity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia.

"I'm so thrilled that we are able to recognise those in the stroke community who are doing amazing things to enhance and demonstrate there is life after stroke," Ms Meredith said.

"We are so lucky to have so many inspirational members of our community who make the future brighter for people impacted by stroke."

She said the awards were an opportunity to come together and celebrate the various achievements and bravery of members of the stroke community.

"If you know someone who has demonstrated courage in their recovery, artistic talent after stroke, fundraising flair or has made any other significant contribution to improving the lives of people with stroke, then tell us about them so we can celebrate them," she said.

"We encourage nominations from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities."

Nominations for the award close on 24 February 2024 and can be made via the Stroke Foundation website.

Award winners will be announced at Stroke Foundation's Stroke Awards ceremony in Melbourne on May 3 2024.

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