Heart Support Australia (HSA) is celebrating 30 years of providing the Canberra and wider Australian community with a support network for those who have experienced a cardiac event.
“[HSA] is a peer support group. Its focus is providing assistance to individuals who have had a cardiac event, and also their families and friends,” says HSA Chair Alan Galbraith.
“It’s about peer support, it’s about people who have had that experience themselves so they can share their own experiences about what’s happened, as well as medical support … It just gives people a better understanding about what’s actually happened to them, why it’s happened to them and what they can do manage that in the future.”
Largely led by volunteers, HSA provides services, support and information through workshops and programs, through hospitals and at the organisation’s headquarters.
Mr Galbraith has been Chair of the organisation for six months, after having a heart attack just over a year ago. He says this made him realise the need for services and support in the aftermath.
“It does help you refocus on what’s important, and talking with others who have had the same experience can help you deal with that.
“[For families] I look at my own wife and kids and for them to be able to talk to others who were going through the same situation … helps them to deal with, I suppose, the uncertainty. It’s a bit like a car accident; it’s such a shock event that lots of times you don’t see coming until it has occurred. So you go through so many emotions around it.”
Mr Galbraith says 30 years is a “milestone” for HSA, and a chance for the organisation to highlight their services and what they can do for the community.
“There’s a lot of focus on [organisations that do work around] preventative care around heart attacks and those aspects of it, but there’s still a gap around what’s happened to those who have actually had a heart attack, and what they actually do to get that support.”
HSA has launched their Healthy Heart Program, which is a workshop with sessions for people who have experienced a heart attack and what they can do to help manage the risk factors.
“It’s not just about an individual dealing with it … They’re able to network with other people who have been through similar circumstance,” Mr Galbraith says.
“Those shared experience and the support of one another just creates a better environment for everyone.”
For more information, to volunteer or to access support, visit heartsupport.org.au