The ESSENCE (Essential Service Standards for Equitable National Cardiovascular carE for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) Project has developed, through expert consensus, a set of service standards in cardiovascular care that are essential to improving outcomes  irrespective of where they live or what their ethnicity is. 

ESSENCE II incorporates two projects and progresses the development of the Standards towards the vision of full implementation across Australia. 

Lead Organisation:

Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit

Project Overview:

The ESSENCE Standards represent the best available evidence and articulate what elements of care are necessary to reduce disparity in access and outcomes for five critical cardiovascular conditions: Coronary Heart Disease; Chronic Heart Failure; Stroke; Rheumatic Heart Disease; and Hypertension, the leading causes of death and disability within the Australian population. Sixty-one service standards were identified.

The development of the standards in 2012 was the first phase of a long-term strategy developed in 2009 by Professor Alex Brown and supported by the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand as part of a commitment to improving cardiovascular disease outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

In 2014 the Department of Health has funded a one-year program of work to progress the ESSENCE Standards towards full implementation (ESSENCE II), funding two distinct projects:

Project 1: ESSENCE Measurement Indicators and Key Performance Indicators
The development of appropriate measurement indicators and key performance indicators for the ESSENCE Standards to monitor health system performance in providing cardiovascular care. 

It is recognised that the creation of a set of indicators will potentially enable the measurement of the standards across jurisdictions and at a national level. It will also allow available data sets to be appropriately mapped to the measurement tools and data gaps to be identified.

Project 2: ESSENCE Primary Health Cardiovascular Care Resource Kit and Workshops
The development and piloting of a national applicable primary health cardiovascular care resource kit and workshops to support the primary care sector in improving access by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The primary care project will help foster a coordinated, evidence based approach to the provision and support of services in that sector.  

Steering Committee:

  • Professor Garry Jennings (Chair) - Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
  • Professor Alex Brown (Deputy Chair) - SAHMRI
  • Dr Richmond Jeremy - Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand
  • Dr Ian Cameron - Rural Doctors Association of Australia
  • James McVeigh - Cardiovascular Rehabilitation
  • Dr Phil Tideman - Cardiologist & expert, rural CVD services
  • Professor Andrew Tonkin - Cardiologist & expert, evidence-based CVD clinical guidelines
  • Catherine Wright - National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
  • Kathryn Panaretto - Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council
  • Dr Rob Grenfell - National Heart Foundation
  • Ms Vicki Wade - National Heart Foundation
  • Kevin Hill - Stroke Foundation
  • Dr Tim Mathew - Kidney Health Australia
  • Shane Mohor - Aboriginal Medical Services
  • Dr Mark Wenitong - National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
  • Kirrily Harrison - National Advisory Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Information and Data
  • Dr Robert Herkes - Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
  • Jessica Stewart - National Health Performance Authority
  • Representatives of the Council of Aboriginal Elders of South Australia

Funding Source:

The development of the Standards (ESSENCE I) was funded by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council (NATSIHEC) through the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Department of Health and Ageing, and contracted to Baker IDI.

Funding for ESSENCE II is is provided by the Australian Government Department of Health. ESSENCE II also receives funding through the CRE to Reduce Inequality in Heart Disease. 


Commentary on the ESSENCE Standards 

Jennings G, Brown A. The ESSENCE of care, MJA (2014)

The ESSENCE Standards:  

Brown A, et al. Essential Service Standards for Equitable National Cardiovascular Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Heart, Lung and Circulation (2014) (in press)

The ESSENCE Strategy: 

Brown A, et al. A Strategy for Translating Evidence Into Policy and Practice to Close the Gap - Developing Essential Service Standards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cardiovascular Care. Heart, Lung and Circulation (2014) (in press)

Further Information:

Download ESSENCE Brochure.

For further information, please contact Wendy Keech.

08 8128 4228

Get in touch
+61 8 8128 4000
You can't miss us!
North Terrace Adelaide 5000 South Australia
Postal Address
PO BOX 11060 Adelaide 5001 South Australia
Key Partners
SAHMRI is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna Nation.

The SAHMRI community acknowledges and respects the traditional owners, the family clans who are the Kaurna Nation from the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia. We acknowledge the clans of the Kaurna Nation and the sacred knowledge they hold for their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna Nation, their ancestors and the descendants of these living family clans today.