Albion Park Home and Community Centre,
one of the community spaces used for the initiative
The Illawarra and Shoalhaven Women's Cardiovascular Health Initiative is a community-based initiative run with assistance from the UTS Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care. It has been designed to engage both health professionals and service providers, and their women constituents across all age and cultural groups to enrich their cardiovascular health knowledgebase, health promotion and clinical skills. It also aims to empower the women of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven to take control over and improve their cardiovascular health by improving access to cardiovascular disease prevention and management information, resources and activities.
UTS staff worked with multicultural health workers from SESIAHS to run cardiovascular health programs with seven different cultural groups: Arabic, Turkish, Macedonian, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, Greek, Italian, and an African and new arrival group which was run through the Mission Australia adult literacy program. The programs were run through local aged day care or other community centers.
The sessions covered basic information on cardiovascular health such as the importance of exercise, stress management and information on healthy eating and salt intake. Participants also had the opportunity to have their blood pressure tested, weight and waist circumference taken and complete a short walk test at the beginning and end of the program. Local service providers including an exercise therapist, and dietitians from Port Kembla Hospital were involved to provide information as part of the programs. As a result of these sessions, the UTS team will be able to identify the cardiovascular health resources and activities that improve cardiovascular knowledge and health promotion skills of Illawarra and Shoalhaven community service providers. In addition, they will evaluate which models of service delivery achieve the best heart health outcomes for community service providers’ and their female clients.
The project is run through South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service (SESIAHS) with assistance from the University of Technology Sydney. The project is also intended to increase cooperation and networking between non-government organisations, local groups and SESIAHS.