Take Heart: Deadly Heart – sequel to Take Heart: The Quest to Rid Australasia from Rheumatic Heart Disease (2016) premiered this National Close the Gap Day 2022 on 17 March. Both films spotlight a health crisis that has been eliminated in all other developed countries, but continues to burden those most vulnerable in Australia.
Take Heart: Deadly Heart is produced by Noongar woman and Director of RHD Australia, Viki Wade, and Sue Collins, and directed by Gunmok woman, artist and educator Lorraine Kabbindi White, and Mike Hill.
Take Heart: Deadly Heart is part of an impact campaign to promote the RHD End Game Strategy to eliminate the disease by 2031.
The Take Heart team is calling on the Government to invest in the community-led solutions that can prevent RHD and keep families strong and together. The initial ask is an additional investment of $40 million over three years to support the implementation of the RHD Endgame Strategy.
Minister Ken Wyatt MP, Liberal Party of Australia and the Hon. Linda Burney MP, Australian Labor Party have responded to the call to eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease in Australia by 2030. Watch their messages here.
Get involved and help spread the word about this critical issue by attending or hosting a screening of Take Heart: Deadly Heart.
Write to your local MP and ask about their RHD elimination policy. Download the template here.
Follow and support the campaign on social media @takeheartRHD and #endRHD
‘Heart Failure’ by Four Corners
‘Heart Failure’ is a Four Corners investigation into the entrenched institutional racism and compounding failures of a health system that doesn’t even realise the scale of the problems and the tragic and heartbreaking impact it has on First Nations communities like Doomadgee QLD.
RHD is a killer disease of First Nations children, one that modern medicine can treat and prevent, and was effectively brought under control in non-Indigenous communities decades ago. Louise Milligan profiles the staggering failure of several hospitals that led to the unnecessary deaths of two First Nations young women from Doomadgee.
Rheumatic heart disease* continues to have a devastating impact on First Nations people in Australia, with young people in the Northern Territory being 122 times more likely to have rheumatic heart disease than other young Australians. Those diagnosed with ARF and subsequently RHD continue to have their daily lives and futures impacted. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children as young as two can be diagnosed with RDH and may require open heart surgery as young as five. Those diagnosed with RHD who require heart surgery continue to endure painful ongoing treatment to save their lives.
‘In 2015–2019, 399 deaths were reported for people with RHD… Of these, 287 people (72%) were Indigenous Australians.’ Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2022.
Despite Australia being a signatory to the International Resolution set out by the World Health Assembly (2017) requiring countries to eliminate and prevent RHD, Australia has failed to meet this obligation.
“It’s completely preventable, we know what the solutions are to rheumatic heart disease. But unfortunately no one is funding a project like this.”
The film showcases working closely with children, families, communities and health experts who are a part of the mission to eliminate RHD by 2030 in Australia. It highlights the preventability of a disease affecting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and an unwillingness on the Australian government’s behalf to provide adequate resources.
END RHD identifies rheumatic heart disease as;
‘A disease born of social inequity and disadvantage which continues to disproportionately impact the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’
They outline 5 priority areas that are fundamental to the elimination of rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2030. These include;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership
- Community-based programs
- Healthy environments
- Early prevention
- Care and support
In failing to reduce the impact of RHD, governments and communities also risk hindering progress towards reaching the targets as part of the Closing the Gap campaign. In fact, by failing to allocate adequate funding and resources to communities in need, 11 out of 17 of the Close the Gap targets are either directly or indirectly affected by the impact of RHD on the lives of young people and families in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (targets; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 17).