In Australia, there are numerous specialized institutions with the aim of helping Australians suffering from serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes by providing assistance and thus, enabling them to pursue an improved quality of life. The Heart Foundation of Australia and Diabetes Australia are just two of the many public organisations devoted to the prevention of acute illness and trauma in our community.
The Heart Foundation of Australia, established in 1958, is a leading heart health charity whose aim and objective is to carry out research in life-saving surgery, promote active prevention, and to encourage education of the general public, in the hope of reducing the lost and suffering for those who suffer from cardiovascular diseases, and to those around them.
The Heart Foundation is especially concerned with those who suffer from cardiovascular diseases, and their friends and families. They are equitable in their treatment of beneficiaries; with no special consideration given for factors such as age or race. Instead, they aim to reach out and raise public awareness on the national scale through community education.
The Heart Foundation is a non-profit health organization, whose finances are dependent on the generous donations and bequests from Australians, which accounts for over 90% of their funding. Every year, tens of thousands of Australians contribute to the cause of the Foundation by means of regular donations, making bequests, and/or supporting the annual Heart Week Appeal. The Foundation also receives additional funding by donations from many large public corporations. To ensure a consistent and continuous flow of donated funds to the Heart Foundation, a ‘Payroll Donation Scheme’ has been introduced. Under this scheme, a pre-determined amount is transferred from the donor’s account into the Foundation’s on a regular basis.
The majority of this funding is spent on achieving their agenda by both research & development for improved treatment, and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
The major projects initiated by the Heart Foundation include the annual ‘Jump Rope for Heart’ campaign, which aims to educate and promote the importance of physical exercise to the general public, particularly schoolchildren. Furthermore, the Heart Foundation works to increase public awareness of a healthy lifestyle by introducing the ‘TICK’ program, which is a guide developed by the Foundation to assist the public in making well-informed choices when selecting a healthier diet. The foundation also funds the Heart Research program, whose objective is to develop more effective drugs and treatments for patients suffering with various forms of cardiovascular diseases.
The Foundation is freely accessible to all and hence there is no obligation to pay any membership fees. They have established a Hotline (1300 36 27 87) with operators present to answer queries regarding cardiovascular diseases, free-of-charge, except the cost of the local call. However, the lines are only open during normal business hours, and are not a source of emergency medical consultation. There is also an online facility for those with computer and internet access whereby inquiries and questions can be lodged via email. Clearly, it would be more beneficial for Australians if the helplines were available twenty-four hours daily, as this would allow busy workers to utilize these services within the comfort of their own homes, and not from the workplace, where they maybe prevented by workplace regulations from making private calls.
In order to maximise the Foundation’s efficiency in dealing with the large population of people diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases in Australia, they have opened divisional office in every state and territory in the country, and also in regional areas of New South Wales and Queensland. By operating more offices in regional areas, people can gain better access to the educational and research programs on offer, and other forms of assistance from the Foundation.
To improve cardiovascular health and reduce cardiovascular disease in the Australian community, the Heart Foundation seeks and engages in partnerships with government and industry that add value to our work. They advocate for and promote government policy and changes to social structures, as well as building alliances with appropriate groups to support cardiovascular health in Australia.
In order to effectively fulfill the foundation’s aim and objective, an efficient communication strategy is essential. The Heart Foundation utilises two major communication stratagem to promote their cause and educate the Australian community. The Foundation has identified that improving the communications between cardiovascular researchers will result in a more productive research program, as this would allow researchers to share new findings with other researchers around the country. It is also vital to maintain a formal communication relationship with the general public, as cardiovascular research programs account for a significant portion of funds raised by the Heart Foundation each year, it is imperative for the Foundation to maintain its credibility by informing the donors on the types of work the organisation is supporting, so that the general public are aware of how their money is spent.
Diabetes Australia, established in 1937, is the world’s third oldest diabetic association in the world. Similar to the Heart Foundation, Diabetes Australia focuses on research, prevention and education in order to minimise the suffering caused by this specific illness. Unlike the Heart Foundation of Australia, Diabetes Australia is concerned with the chronic illness of diabetes instead of cardiovascular illnesses.
Diabetes Australia’s primary aim is to minimise the impact that diabetes has on its patients. Resembling the Heart Foundation’s health policy, both organisations are equitable in their treatment of beneficiaries; with no special consideration given for factors such as age or race. Both aimed to reach out and raise public awareness on the national scale through community education. However, Diabetes Australia uses a more extensive method to approach and execute their objective. Methods used by to fulfill their aim includes: the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), Awareness campaigns, and through various printed mediums.
The operation of the association relies on donations raised by individual donors and organisations like Apex Foundation and Kellion Diabetes Foundation. The total funds raised for Diabetes Australia would be spent on research, health services, provision of self-management products and public awareness campagins. To attract more donors for the organisation, Diabetes Australia has introduced a tax deductible scheme, where every donation of any denomination are tax deductible.
Diabetes Australia offers quality resource material and magazines for its members and health professionals, regular contact with the media and national awareness campaigns to ensure effective communication with people who have diabetes and with the general community. ‘Conquest’ is specifically designed to meet the needs of people with diabetes and those interested in their health and welfare. It is published quarterly and is available through membership of Diabetes Australia.
Akin to the Heart Foundation, Diabetes Australia also has agents in each state and territory in the country. Furthermore they have successfully negotiated with the relative state and territory governments to encourage a cover for the co-payment share of any needles or syringes purchased by NDSS registrants under their jurisdiction. This effectively makes the needles and syringes “free” to eligible registrants in all states and territories, thus improves the health of people in the corresponding community. However, people living in rural areas may be disadvantaged as access to facilities may be limited.
Like the Heart Foundation of Australia, Diabetes Australia maintains a consulting service via the internet and telephone hotline. However, unlike the Heart Foundation, no charges apply to the caller when calling the Diabetes Australia’s hotline, as it is a designated freecall help line.