Lifting stroke awareness

Former international cricketer Queenslander Lee Carseldine.

Sports stars, politicians and entertainers are next week supporting Stroke Foundation in a public health

education campaign which hopes to drastically lift the level of Australian men’s awareness of stroke.

Called Bloke Beside You, the grassroots social media video campaign sees well-known faces from

across Australia encouraging Australians to share the FAST message and to educate others –

particularly blokes.

FAST. highlights three common stroke indicators: Facial droop, Arms not working, and Slurred speech.

The T is a reminder that there is no time to waste in calling an ambulance.

Successful treatment for stroke is time critical as without it, people can be left with permanent disabilities or may even die.

The campaign will launch next week to coincide with International Men’s Health Week with a video

message from Federal Health Minister Mark Butler and Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney.

The political leaders note that 45 per cent of Australian men would not recognise any of the most common signs of stroke and they ask Australians to help change that by educating more men.

Other generous participants who have donated their time by recording a Bloke Beside You message

include AFL star Jake Lever, World Cup goal-scoring Socceroo Craig Goodwin, legendary horse trainer

Gai Waterhouse, former international cricketer Queenslander Lee Carseldine, and Supercars driver Jack Perkins.

They are joined by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne Sally Capp, and Perth’s Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas,

and stars of the stage, screen and radio including Dolly Diamond, Karl Stefanovic, Sarah Abo, Michael

Rowland, John Foreman, Harrison Craig and Strictly Ballroom’s Paul Mercurio.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy, says she is enormously grateful to all of the

participants who made the time to record a short video highlighting the need to raise awareness.

“Some of these contributors have very personal stroke connections. Others have just been willing to

donate their faces and voices to grab the attention of Aussie blokes because they understand the

enormity of this gap in awareness, and they know they can use their platforms to educate their own

audiences,” Dr Murphy said.

She says it’s particularly appropriate as stroke itself does not discriminate by age, gender, or career

choice.

“Anyone of any age, at any time can be impacted by stroke. It’s not an elderly person’s disease.”

Stroke Foundation surveys 5000 Australians every year to gauge awareness of stroke. When looking

closely at each demographic after the most recent survey, Dr Murphy said her team was surprised how

far men lag behind women in recognising stroke.

“We now know that almost half of the men in this country would not know they were dealing with a stroke if they saw someone displaying the main signs. That means roughly five million blokes may be a

hindrance rather than a help in what is always a medical emergency.”

“That could cost someone dearly.”

Associate Professor Emma George is the Director of the Centre for Male Health at Western Sydney

University and heads the team coordinating Australia’s activities during International Men’s Health Week.

The theme for the week is Healthy Habits.

She says the Stroke Foundation campaign is a simple way to encourage men to lift their game.

“Men are quite often in need of a nudge when it comes to thinking about their health. This International

Men’s Health Week we’re encouraging men to make regular health checks a habit, and that includes the

habit of educating themselves about stroke and other chronic diseases.”

International Men’s Health Week runs from 12-18 June.

Videos of all participants will be posted on Stroke Foundation social media channels this week, and Dr

Murphy invites people to share widely and tag more ‘blokes’ into their own posts to spread the word.

“The more blokes we can educate, the more likely it is that stroke will be recognised quickly, an

ambulance will be called, and fewer critical minutes are lost.”

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