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Keywords:

  • Aboriginal peoples;
  • chronic disease;
  • non-government organisations;
  • rural and remote populations;
  • Torres Strait Islanders

ABSTRACT

As a result of the National Health Priority Area Report on Cardiovascular Health and in particular, its remote and indigenous section, a consortium of five organisations ran a national workshop in Townsville in October 1999 on heart disease in Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islanders and rural and remote populations. One of the priority areas identified at this workshop was the need for a more coordinated approach to chronic diseases and for the formation of an alliance of non-government organisations (NGOs) to work towards this and to undertake a lobbying and advocacy role. A meeting of a wide range of NGOs working in chronic disease, led by the National Heart Foundation of Australia, was held in Sydney in May 2000. At the Sydney meeting it was agreed that an alliance of NGOs could be formed for the development of a chronic disease strategy for Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islanders and rural and remote populations. The NGOs drafted a ‘Statement of Intent’, which would inform their work on both heart disease and on broader work to address chronic preventable disease in the target populations. There is a considerable amount of procedural work to be done before the proposed alliance becomes a reality but the prospect of closer collaboration between the NGOs working in chronic disease has much to offer, especially for the population groups that were the focus of the Townsville workshop. This ‘alliance’ initiative comes at a time when there are national and State/Territory moves on broader aspects of what could become a ‘national chronic disease prevention and management strategy’.