Vicki Wade

National Heart Foundation

Kya my name is Vicki Wade and I am a proud Aboriginal Noongar woman from south west of Perth Western Australia. I am the First Nations Heart health Lead in the Heart Foundation of Australia. I am also a PhD student looking at the social and emotional wellbeing of young First Nations people with RHD.

I come from a strong matriachial lineage of healers. I have over 40 years working in the health sector as a cardiac nurse, an educator and a researcher. I have been awarded 2 prestigious awards for my life long work in closing the gap in heart health and in particular RHD. I love my family and my people and all that I do is aimed at improving the lives of our young ones so they can be live healthy in peace and harmony. I have developed national policy and standards in cardiac care for first Nations Australians. I have been involved in many research projects and translation of research.

My work includes how to work effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, acknowledgement and understanding of the unique cultures of First Nations peoples in all what I do. As some of the oldest living cultures on this planet, the richness, diversity and complexities of our cultures needs to be appreciated in a respectful and competent way. It is also necessary to acknowledge the impacts that colonisation has had, and continues to have, on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I have established a Champions4Change program made up of those with the lived experience of ARF/RHD they draw on their cultural knowledge to bring a richer understanding of what it truly means to be living with ARF and RHD. Champions, comprising culturally diverse Australian First Nations community members, draw strength from their own complex social structures which define roles and responsibilities to keep communities functioning safely. These roles include passing on and sharing knowledge, a process at the heart of traditional Aboriginal culture based on the kinship system.