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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Champions4Change program welcomes new project coordinator

Written by 

Sean Rung

RHDAustralia is happy to announce that a new member has joined the team! On the 22nd of March, Maida Stewart officially began as the Champions4Change project coordinator.

Maida is a Wemba Wemba/Wergaia woman who has lived in the Northern Territory for over 29 years.

For the past 18 years, Maida has been working as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner with the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Northern Territory, where she provides culturally appropriate and responsive health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the greater Darwin region.

“I’ve cared for and worked alongside a lot of people with ARF and RHD over the years and it’s something I’m very passionate about continuing to do. Rates of ARF and RHD keep increasing among our mob and I want to bring something positive to those living with ARF and RHD. I want them to have a better future and I believe the Champions program can build the capacity of people living with ARF and RHD and in turn, strengthen the people around them and their communities” 

She has extensive experience in primary health care practice, and in health education and promotion. She’s worked in the areas of women’s health, child and maternal health, acute healthcare, mobile outreach and has been employed as a chronic disease coordinator.

In these roles she’s coordinated client’s health care and social needs, health education, direct clinical care and helped prepare clients needing cardio thoracic and valve repair/replacement surgery.

As part of the RHD program at Danila Dilba, she was responsible for recalling clients for their Benzathine Penicillin injections and routine cardiology reviews.

Maida has been involved with many projects at Danila Dilba, including the development of a wellbeing framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with chronic disease and a support program for young people living with RHD.

In her time at Danila Dilba, she’s worked with and cared for hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with ARF and RHD.

In 2018, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship that focused on examining healthy housing in relation to primary prevention of ARF/RHD, which took her to Auckland on Aotearoa’s (New Zealand) North Island in early 2020 to investigate the Healthy Homes Initiative.

There she focused on Māori  and Pasifika-owned and driven programs and initiatives, and the impact they had on reducing rates of ARF. In addition, Maida examined the cost savings to the New Zealand Government through reduced hospital admissions, GP visits and pharmaceuticals being dispensed.

As the Champions4Change coordinator, Maida will be the main point of contact for the Champions4Change program. She will work closely with senior cultural advisor, Vicki Wade to develop, coordinate, and implement strategies and resources and that will provide training and education to Champions in the program.

By establishing and building meaning relationships and encouraging networking between individuals and communities, Maida will work with Champions to prioritise their social and emotional well-being, and support their capacity building, community education, and health promotion activities.

We are very excited to have Maida join the team and know that her extensive experience of working alongside individuals, families and communities affected by ARF and RHD will propel the Champions4Change program forward into the future.