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The Heart Research Institute (HRI) is delighted to welcome the Djurali Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research and Education to the team.

The Djurali Centre officially joined HRI as a research group in December 2023 after a 10-year partnership, to further collaborate on world-leading research into cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Indigenous populations.

The Centre’s aim is to turn research into tangible and sustainable change in community, in healthcare, and in public policy, and to improve the quality of life of Aboriginal people through inclusion, equity and respect.

“We are excited about the opportunities this move will provide for the Djurali Centre to grow and to build the impact of their work, while also providing new pathways for HRI research into CVD impacting Indigenous communities,” said HRI’s CEO and Scientific Director Prof Andrew Coats AO.

Djurali Centre lead, Assoc Prof Carmen Parter, also embraced the move as the Centre continues to conduct co-designed translational research about health and its social determinants.

“Djurali being at HRI is about the heart, but it’s also about the spirit,” said Assoc Prof Parter. “Everything about health and Aboriginal health is about our heart, so there’s a beautiful alignment.

“CVD is a major killer of Aboriginal people, so being part of HRI, which has leading scientists in CVD, combined with our deep, trusted community connections and leading Aboriginal researchers, can only be a good thing for Aboriginal health.”

According to the Djurali Centre’s Assoc Prof Uncle Boe Rambaldini, a proud Bundjalung man from the north coast of NSW, Indigenous populations are more likely to suffer cardiac problems like heart disease and stroke, due to the prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) or an irregular heartbeat, with too many falling through the cracks of the health system.

“Research shows Indigenous Australians are experiencing catastrophic strokes at a much younger age than other Australians,” he said. “One in every three strokes is linked to AF, and we know there is a clear pattern between the incidence of AF and First Nations peoples who experience higher levels of AF at an earlier age than the general population.

“We want to close the gap when it comes to healthcare, and we can do this by helping Aboriginal people be more actively involved in the process of their own health. Checking for AF is one simple way of empowering them,” Assoc Prof Rambaldini said.

As well as their research into early detection and better management of AF in Aboriginal people, the Djurali Centre is working on a vocational education project and developing with HRI a plan for a major new “Djurali Heart” initiative.

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