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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Year 12 project making a difference - Tiwi Islander raises awareness about RHD

Tiwi Islander and year 12 student Trish Tipiloura has been raising awareness about rheumatic heart disease (RHD) on the Tiwi Islands. “Whilst RHD is a preventable disease, the rate of RHD on the Tiwi Islands is still very high,” says Trish.  

Inspired by members of her family and community who have been affected by the disease Trish, a student at Xavier Catholic College, developed a ‘RHD Action Plan’, with support from Tiwi Islands Health Services, RHDAustralia, and the Northern Territory RHD Control Program.

“In the Wurrumiyanga community in which I live on the Tiwi Islands, I have noticed that young people have had heart operations. This includes my nephew and some of my other family members and students in my school,” says Trish.

“This affects my family and the Tiwi community because our young kids can’t exercise, they have to be on lots of medication, have operations and people are dying very young causing lots of community sorry business.”

Trish began by surveying people in the Tiwi community, interviewing health professionals and recording personal observations as well as conducting online research.

“I wanted to find out what causes RHD and how it can be prevented because I want my family and all other Tiwi people to live healthier, longer and happier lives.”

Trish found that many in her community were not aware of RHD or its causes.

“From my survey, 80% of people said that they don’t know how to stop getting RHD or what causes it. We need 100% of people to understand what RHD is and how to prevent and stop the disease.”

Trish decided to try and raise awareness amongst her community.  
 
“I decided to raise awareness by making a poster and pamphlet to give out to the community and have a stall at the end of term awards day to give to parents along with other information and resources.”

“Everyone was interested in reading my pamphlet and poster and having a look at my stall. I got great feedback and ran out of pamphlets because everyone wanted to read them.”

There were those who attended Trish’s stall who even shared their RHD experiences.

“A lady at the shop read my poster and said that her daughter has RHD and it got her talking about it to other people.”

Trish enjoyed her project and when she graduates year 12 this year, plans to get a job as a health worker in her local clinic.

“Action projects to teach people about how to prevent the disease need to happen to keep the Tiwi people healthy and strong and free from RHD especially young children.”