Stroke Foundation chief executive Sharon McGowan says more investment from state and federal governments is needed to improve the outlook for stroke survivors. ​

Stroke Foundation chief executive Sharon McGowan urged all levels of government to invest in a service supporting a growing number of stroke survivors across Australia as the group marked World Stroke Day on Saturday.

On average, one person in Australia has a stroke every 19 minutes. But without action, Ms McGowan said by 2050 predictions were that stroke incidence would increase to one person having a stroke every 10 minutes.

“Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers. Sadly, more than 27,000 Australians will experience stroke for the first time this year,” she said.

“We know that more than 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, and if we could prevent more strokes from happening it would ease the burden on individuals, families and the health system.”

In 2021, 75 per cent of Stroke Foundation’s income came from donations and bequests, mostly from survivors and their families.

Ms McGowan said it was time for that number to change.

“Sadly, it’s the survivors of stroke and their families who have done the heavy lifting when it comes to supporting the work of the Stroke Foundation. They are the backbone of our organisation, and we would be lost without them, but it’s now time for governments to step up,” she said.

Ms McGowan called on state and federal governments to invest in the Stroke Foundation’s StrokeConnect Navigator Program, which supports survivors of stroke after they leave hospital.

“We believe every person impacted by stroke should be enabled to make their best recovery possible, and supported to return to work, study, and family life. Sadly, our data shows many Australians leave hospital after stroke without the tools they need to recover and live well,” she said.

“We know 35 per cent of patients go home without a discharge plan, many even describe it as being left in a black hole, and that’s simply not good enough.

“Investment in a StrokeConnect Navigator Program will ensure more Australians, regardless of where they live, are supported to manage their stroke recovery, and live well, which will have benefits for both the health system and economy.”

The program will work with hospitals across Australia to identify and support each stroke survivor as they leave hospital.

The Stroke Foundation is seeking support for the service as a way of ensuring all Australians have equitable access to quality stroke treatment and recovery.

To find out more about the Stroke Foundation, people can visit strokefoundation.org.au.