HSA Opens Peer Support Group in Geelong

Heart Support Australia (HSA) has opened a Peer Support Group in Geelong this month, giving post-heart event support for cardiac patients in the area. 

The HSA Peer Support Groups are unique communal support programs that offer comfort and guidance to those who have recently undergone a heart event and for those who have experienced heart conditions and rehabilitation.


The link between cardiovascular disease and COVID-19, including resulting inflammation of the cardiovascular system from the virus, saw 17 percent more Australians die of ischemic heart disease in the first eight months of 2022 than what is considered “natural range”.


HSA CEO Dr Christian Verdicchio said that while heart disease has been the leading cause of death for Australians for years, the COVID-19 outbreak and continued infections in the community have worsened the risk factors, meaning the demand for support systems has never been higher.


“Unfortunately, far too often when people are diagnosed with or undergo treatment for a heart condition, they don’t have ongoing support and that can be incredibly isolating.”


“Our support groups are designed to ensure that our patients are staying on the path to a healthier life by making it known to them that they are not alone because they are interacting with their leader and group members who have gone through similar circumstances,” Christian said.


The peer support program initiative derives from a new era of managing heart disease that empowers heart patients with education, improved self-esteem, and larger support networks that result in less of a strain on our health system with fewer hospital stays and trips to the GP.


Leading the Geelong Peer Support Group is Murray Chenery whose heart event journey has been manifested in The Heart In Me a series of 22 “thumbnail” artworks sharing the vivid feelings and emotions of his double bypass heart surgery.


“After getting past the question ‘Why me?’ – I felt overwhelmingly lucky – I didn’t have to go through a heart attack… I have an opportunity at this life again because I raised my discomfort with my doctor,” Murray said.



“A lot of reading information was provided to me on heart and surgical processes at the start, but there was nothing on the feelings and emotions I may experience through heart surgery,” he said.

A week after his lifesaving operation, Murray was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. In Murray’s case, there were three clots in his lower leg, an outcome he believed was from many hours spent as a passenger on airline flights.

Although Murray’s recovery has been good, the mental and emotional journey has been challenging – something he believes people aren’t properly prepared for.

His heart journey has resulted in a revised perspective on what is critical in his life and a changed perspective where helping others is important.


“My future could have been very different without the tremendous help of my medical team. I am so appreciative of the way I was helped during the challenging time of my heart event. Giving back to the community is more important than ever before for me,” Murray concluded. 


The local community can join Murray at the Geelong Peer Support Group on the third Thursday of each month at the Scott Accounting Group’s offices at Sladen House, Newtown from 10am.


Heart Support Australia encourages people to get involved with the community support session by getting in touch with group leader Murray Chenery by calling on 0408 598 180 or by emailing: murray.chenery57@gmail.com

HSA Opens Peer Support Group in Geelong