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:

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

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