Stroke Foundation has marked a significant achievement in the organisation’s 25 year history, with the official launch of their Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan yesterday. The Stroke Foundation joins a network of more than 1,100 corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations making a formal commitment to reconciliation through the RAP program.
Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said it’s hoped the RAP will support and maintain meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their community.
‘We commenced our reconciliation journey in 2021 in an effort to build strong relationships between the Stroke Foundation and First Nations peoples to support self-determination, respect and recognition,’ said Ms McGowan.
‘We know stroke is over-represented in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the statistics are actually quite alarming,’ she said. ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are 1.5 times more likely to experience a stroke, and 1.3 times more likely to be hospitalised for stroke.
‘One third to a half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are at high risk of future stroke,’ said Ms McGowan.
‘Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Indigenous Australia, and we think it’s time to change that which is why we’re so passionate about our RAP and reducing the impact of stroke.’
The Stroke Foundation supports the Northern Territory Government on the development of a Treaty Making Framework, which it recognises as a key step toward reconciliation and self-determination.
Sharon McGowan sees the state-wide treaty model as an important step towards creating a more equitable community.
‘An equitable community is one that ensures all its members have the same opportunities and access, especially in health care,’ she said.
‘We look forward to working together with the government to ensure this is addressed in stroke prevention, treatment and recovery.’
Inequity on many fronts
Ms McGowan says not only are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over-represented in stroke statistics, those who live in regional Australian are already 17 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than those in metropolitan areas.
‘As a country with a vast geographic footprint, we see inequity on many fronts. We have many challenges to address so every positive, purposeful step we take will make a difference.’
She said the Stroke Foundation is undertaking a number of key initiatives as part of its RAP.
‘We know how important it is to establish relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and organisations, which is why we have partnered with a First Nations organisation to develop and deliver cultural awareness training to our employees and volunteers,’ said Ms McGowan.
She said Stroke Foundation was also recognising significant calendar dates throughout the year, including Close the Gap Day, National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, while also encouraging employees and volunteers to increase their awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events and activities.
To learn more about Reflect Reconciliation Action Plans, visit the Reconciliation Australia website.