Who are we?

We are a group of experienced doctors, local health workers and Aboriginal leaders who will visit communities across Australia who want to take part. We want to listen, learn and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).

This is not a medical research program, this is a team of dedicated health professionals and Aboriginal people who have community interest at the core of their work.

What is Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)?

RHD is a preventable disease but if it’s not diagnosed or treated, it can cause heart failure, disability and even death. It starts with a sore throat or skin sore caused by Strep A bacteria and can permanently damage the heart valves. 

The burden of RHD continues to grow in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia and it’s destroying lives through ongoing injections, surgeries, death and the impacts of these deaths in communities.

How can it be eliminated?

There is a blueprint outlining exactly what needs to happen to both prevent people from developing RHD and to improve the quality of life of those living with it, called the RHD Endgame Strategy.

The Endgame Strategy Report clearly sets out the steps needed to eliminate this disease in Australia, with a focus on five priority action areas:

Aboriginal leadership, community-based programs, healthy environments, early prevention, care and support. 

What’s needed now is funding and commitment to do the work on the ground to make ending this disease possible.

Why now?

We have an unprecedented opportunity to unite and act now to end RHD – with Aboriginal leadership, community demand, collective goodwill and the evidence base to support the work that can eradicate this disease.


Each Community has been provided with an invitation outlining the Deadly Heart Trek and will select the activities that suit their needs. 

Activities on offer:

  •    Education, activity and movie sessions for community, health workers and schools on RHD and acute rheumatic fever 
  •    Skin awareness day – to understand skin sores, scabies and their link to RHD 
  •    Cardiology clinics for children at school – to treat the disease 
  •    Heart checks for children – echocardiographic (echo) screening to detect RHD early (limited availability) 
  •    Meet The Council – to discuss how to prevent RHD in each community

After the Trek - post care and follow up:

  •    All medical treatments and diagnoses will be documented and followed up and where necessary, treatment to be given
  •    Post-visit, full community feedback to all key stakeholders is guaranteed. Normal clinical relationship will be continued

Short to medium term:

Offering Communities along the journey the opportunity for:

  •    Increased awareness and education of RHD amongst communities 
  •    Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of RHD – treatment will occur within 24-48 hours for anyone that needs it. When identified – family consultation, letter to paediatrician
  •    Early detection – echo screenings of children’s hearts where communities request it 
  •    Training local health workers on echo screening – building local capacity, empowering communities, educating, up-skilling and opening-up career pathways
  •    Direct access to medical professionals
  •    Enabling self-determination and empowerment of the community – communities decide what they need
  •    Local voices and needs will be elevated to Land Councils, the media and to Government, where appropriate

Longer term outcomes:

Ending RHD, health justice, national funding rolled out to enable local programs to flourish