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Heartfelt song beats back infection

Rachael Knowles -

Aboriginal children from the community of Barunga in the Northern Territory have created a catchy new music video called 'Boom Boom' to raise awareness for rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

RHD is a life-threatening disease caused from an untreated Strep A infection.

The song debuted at the Barunga Festival, after a collaboration between Skinnyfish Music, the Bupa Health Foundation, Telethon Kids and the Menzies School of Health Research.

Aboriginal community worker Anne Marie Lee heads up Barunga's 'END RHD Communities' project. She said the song aims to increase RHD prevention in First Nations communities.

Kids in Barunga sing 'Boom Boom'. Photo by Britten Andrews.

"It's about telling my mob, my countrymen about RHD and trying to educate them about the importance of going to the clinic. RHD is a killer, particularly in the Indigenous community," she said.

Ms Lee has worked with the Menzies School of Health Research for eighteen months now and said it's opened her eyes to the grave risk of RHD in her community.

"It was so difficult at first. It was a learning curve to really get to know how to help our people. But I had the support of my supervisor, Angela Kelly, and she came out and trained me around how we can help our people have a better quality of life so they aren't at risk of RHD."

"I go around in community, go into households and sit with families. I explain it takes time. You keep going back and sitting with countrymen to get the message out."

Ms Lee was amazed at the effort of the kids in the community who came together to create 'Boom Boom'.

"I started to work with kids here in Barunga ... I went to their school on Tuesday and Thursday and their teacher practised with them in the mornings."

"They got up and they performed at the festival. Their families were watching and they were so proud!"

"It makes me proud, too. I work with twelve people with RHD, and three of them are kids in Barunga. They were so happy performing and being part of this."

Ms Lee hopes that with enough education and awareness the rate of RHD in Indigenous communities will decline.

"I want to see that maybe in ten years' time, we'll only have five people with RHD, or three, or zero. This disease is killing a lot of my kids and my people, because it goes undiagnosed."

"We have to keep working together, supporting each other and getting that strong message to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. This video does that. I would like to see it happen in more communities so there's more education and understanding and we can tackle this thing."

By Rachael Knowles

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