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RHD Australia

Q&A panel event: Forgotten but not gone

Thursday, October 20, 2016
Dining Room, NT Parliament House Mitchell Street Darwin, NT 0800

Rheumatic heart disease is a devastating, and 100% preventable, health condition. Rheumatic heart disease has been mostly eliminated from developed countries. 

Australia has the highest rate of rheumatic heart disease in the world with Indigenous people being the most at risk population.

There is no other disease which demonstrates as clearly the devastating impact of the continued inequalities in social circumstances in Australia.

This event is free and open to the public - if you would like to attend, please register here.

In this Q&A panel event we will be discussing:

How rheumatic heart disease impacts families and communities?
Why a 'Third World' disease still exists in Australia?
What should be done to end rheumatic heart disease?

The panel: 

Facilitator: Charlie King - legendary sports journalist and anti-violence activist

Mr King has been the chairman of the NT Department of Children and Families’ Advisory Council since 2006 and a youth worker for more than 20 years. He is involved in the Strong Men’s Council, Life Education, Aboriginal Men’s Advisory Group and an ambassador for the No More campaign to reduce family violence.

Mr King’s broadcast achievements include commentating Indigenous games for the Australian Football League and, in 2008 in Beijing, becoming the first Indigenous Australian to commentate at an Olympic Games.

Dr Marion Scrymgour - Australia's first Indigenous female Cabinet Minister 

Marion Scrymgour (Mangililwayu – Strong Tide) was born 13 September 1960 in Darwin to Clare and Jack Scrymgour. Her mother Claire (nee Mwalamini) was a Tiwi woman, and her father Jack Scrymgour (nee Woods) had been forcibly removed under the Aboriginals Ordinance 1911 as a small child from his home in Central Australia.

Prior to her entrance into politics, her employment history included Director/CEO of Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service and co-ordinating community care trials for Commonwealth and Territory Governments in health service provision in the Katherine West Region. Marion is the founding Director/CEO of Katherine West Health Board Aboriginal Corporation.

Professor Bart Currie – infectious disease physician and Director RHDAustralia

Bart Currie is an infectious diseases and public health physician at Royal Darwin Hospital and Professor in Medicine at the Northern Territory Medical Program, Flinders and Charles Darwin Universities. He is also Program Leader for Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Global and Tropical Health Division of the Menzies School of Health Research and Director of RHD Australia. Areas of interest include clinical and epidemiological aspects of tropical and emerging infections, development of treatment guidelines and clinical toxinology.


Vicki Wade - leading Indigenous health expert and advocate

Vicki Wade is a proud Aboriginal woman; her traditional lands are in the south west of Perth. With strong Noongar ties, her family continue to fight for the rights of Noongar people and the preservation of Noongar spirituality and culture, which are critical elements that Vicki believes, need to be addressed to help close the gap.

Her career in health spans over 30 years, in which time she has made a significant contribution to health in general and Aboriginal health in particular. Vicki has held many senior positions throughout her career including National Leader of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program (Heart Foundation); Nurse Educator; Heart Failure Specialist Nurse; Clinical Nurse Consultant in Cardiology; Cardiac Rehabilitation Coordinator; Senior Lecturer with the University of Western Sydney; NSW State Manager of the Aboriginal Vascular Health Program; and Area Director of Aboriginal Health in Sydney South West Area Health Service. Vicki has been instrumental in developing policy and setting strategic direction for Aboriginal health state-wide and nationally.

Mr Adam El Gamel - New Zealand heart surgeon and international rheumatic heart disease expert

Mr El Gamel is a world reknowed cardiothoracic surgeon and has a special interest and expertise in rheumatic heart disesase. At Waikato Hosptial, Hamilton, he has pionnered the TAVI procedure which delivers a replacement heart valve without the need for open heart surgery.  This has life-changing implications for young people with rheumatic heart disease. 



Mark Munnich - Community legal educator and Indigenous advocate

Mark Munnich is a proud Gunggandji and Yawuru man born and raised in Darwin Northern Territory. Mark is currently studying his Bachelor of Laws and Accounting through Charles Darwin University. Mark works with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) as a Community Legal Educator in the Law and Justice Projects, where he travels to urban, regional and remote communities within the Top End of the Northern Territory to deliver a range of legal education and training programs that are designed to help Indigenous Territorians and communities develop an increased understanding, capacity to interact and engage with the mainstream legal system; and where needed, link them with  services that NAAJA can assist them with. Mark is also an Indigenous Cadet for the Solicitor of the Northern Territory Government and prior to working within Law and Justice, he worked for Danila Dilba Health Service (DDHS) as a Health Promotion Officer. Mark is very passionate about voicing his concerns and advocating on Indigenous issues within law, social justice, health, education and leadership to empower Indigenous peoples; and particularly young people and children by building the next generation of change makers on the demanding issues that directly affect their lives and their communities.

The event will feature personal stories from people living with rheumatic heart disease including:

Eddie Masina - You can read about Eddie's personal story with rheumatic heart disease here.

At 12 years old Eddie had his first open heart surgery
At 16 Eddie had his second open heart surgery 
At 18 Eddie suffered his first stroke
At 20 Eddie suffered his second stroke
At 21 Eddie had his third open heart surgery
At 24 Eddie had his fourth open heart surgery
At 34 Eddie had his fifth open heart surgery

Eddie Masina’s journey with rheumatic heart disease (RHD) started when he was five years old.

Cherie McAdams (pictured in centre) - As well as having children who have battled acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, her mother also had rheumatic heart disease. Read more here.

Matters to do with the heart have plagued Cherie’s life.

When Cherie was just 15 years old her mother underwent heart surgery for a heart condition.
In 2009, Cherie’s youngest daughter Mercii was born with a hole in her heart.

Six days after this, Cherie’s son Luke was hospitalised with chorea.

Then six months later, Cherie’s oldest daughter Kenya, who was suffering from pneumonia and septicemia, had a heart attack. Doctors diagnosed Kenya with RHD and she had to undergo lifesaving heart surgery. Kenya was 15 years old. Cherie who had experienced her mother undergoing heart surgery when she was 15; was suddenly a mother to a 15 year old requiring heart surgery.

This event is free and open to the public - If you would like to attend, please register here.