Heart Support-Australia (HS-A) began in Canberra, ACT, in 1986. A gentleman by the name of Max Nancarrow had a cardiac event, which lead to a bypass operation. Upon returning to his Cardiologist for his 6 week check-up, he was told that he was ok, that he could go home and carry on with his life. The reality was that Max did not feel ok. He was not confident and was not coping with everyday life, but more importantly to him, he had nobody to talk to that understood what living with a heart condition was really like.
Back then, discharge from a hospital after cardiothoracic surgery was often accompanied by prescriptive instructions on how to live for the following 6 weeks. These instructions gave the assumption that any problems experienced by heart patients during this time would disappear after 6 weeks, and that life would return to normal.
What continued to be overlooked, was that once those 6 weeks were over, there was little to no information available to heart patients on how they could continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle, handle short term memory loss, cope with changing emotions, depression, employment or maintain dietary changes.
The additional personal trauma that cardiac sufferers experienced during this time remained unrecognised, and this lack of information and support was often greater in rural areas and for those living alone.
There was rarely a mention of how spouses and partners of cardiac sufferers should handle their homecoming or deal with issues that would ultimately arise. Nor was there the infrastructure to provide community support, information and encouragement, the three words that would later become the motto of Heart Support-Australia.
Having recognised this shortage, Max Nancarrow, along with a group of people with similar problems, formed 3 Zipper Clubs – Brisbane, ACT and Batemans Bay. This small group of people, who had all lived through and survived the trauma of a cardiac event, became the Founding Members and the Steering Committee that established the Australian Cardiacs Association (ACA).
Every Member associated with ACA were personally determined and dedicated to drawing attention to the needs of people with a heart condition. They believed that their actions in bringing their personal issues to light would encourage and assist in the development and implementation of appropriate services and programs for people suffering through a cardiac event.
The Steering Committee wanted to build an Organisation which was independent, owed allegiance to its Members, heart patients and their families and to provide a community service for them. At the same time they wanted to develop contact, rapport and collaboration with the medical and allied health professions, institutions and other organisations.
It was into this climate that a branch network was first introduced. Now, in rural and metropolitan areas across Australia, people with a heart condition can receive support, information and encouragement through personal contact or a telephone call.
At the 1995 Annual General Meeting (AGM), it was proposed and accepted that ACA change its trading name to Heart Support-Australia, and then at the 1997 AGM, it was voted that the Company name also be changed to Heart Support-Australia. Our Members felt that the name “Heart Support-Australia” better reflected the role of the Organisation and its Members’ activities.
From the time of the Organisation’s inception, Heart Support-Australia has developed into an Australia wide Organisation, formally recognised as the National Support Organisation for people with a heart condition. HS-A is an Incorporated Public Company (Limited by Guarantee), is registered in every Australian State and Territory and has Public Benevolent Institution status.
We would like to thank the following HS-A Members for their contributions to our HS-A History page:
- Rosemary Every – Albury/Wodonga Branch
- Henry Hogan – Maryborough Branch
- Ed Francis – Maryborough Branch