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Saturday, 7 March 2015

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Friday, 6 March 2015


An important campaign has been launched at Parliament House in Canberra which highlights the link between health and wellbeing and constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The RECOGNISE HEALTH initiative is a project of the Lowitja Institute in conjunction with RECOGNISE, the people's movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution and to remove discrimination from it.

Many of the partner organisations in the RECOGNISE HEALTH initiative are at the forefront of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander­ led work to close the significant gulf between the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non­-Indigenous Australians. Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be another step towards equity.

The central premise of RECOGNISE HEALTH, that constitutional recognition is linked to health and wellbeing, is supported by the Lowitja Institute's 2011 research paper Legally Invisible — How Australian Laws Impede Stewardship and Governance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Further detail

Forgotten health providers are key to healing patients and budgets

A new report has revealed that Australians with 3 common health conditions – stroke, diabetes and osteoarthritis – could avoid surgery or recover more quickly if they had access to multidisciplinary teams of health professionals.

The report,conducted for Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) by Australian National University Masters student Virginia Decourcy, found that common surgeries including hip and knee replacements and diabetic limb amputations could be avoided if patients were seen by allied health providers including physiotherapists, dietitians and podiatrists.

It found that thousands of hospital beds could be freed up if patients recovering from surgery were given access to specialist allied health providers, who were shown in the report to reduce hospitalisation by as much as 30 days.

Media release.

Full Report

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Dianne Gill is bringing her message to city's heart

A health professional on a mission to break through the stigma associated with mental illness so people will reach out for help has gone to "the backbone" of smaller rural communities with her message.
Dianne Gill spoke to about 60 members of the Country Women's Association (CWA) gathered at Dubbo yesterday, sharing with them the support to help people stay well or recover quickly.

Ms Gill, a 16-year veteran in the mental health field, reported that during that time the stigma had decreased but not disappeared.

See more at the following link:

Mental health: Poor and remote areas don't have equal access to services, Monash University study finds

The largest ever study into mental health services in Australia has found government programs are failing to give people in poor and remote areas equal access to help.

The Monash University study looked at Medicare data relating to 25 million mental health items billed between 2007 and 2011.

It found people who lived in disadvantaged parts of metropolitan areas, rural and remote areas accessed the least number of services despite needing them the most.

Please see more at the following link:

Monday, 2 March 2015

Palliative care issues explored on the Health Report

This week's episode of ABC Radio National's The Health Report looked at some very interesting aspects of palliative care and you can read the transcripts or listen to the audio from the links below. The topics presented were:

1. Most doctors do not choose aggressive treatment at the end of their life . An interview with VJ Periyakoil from Stanford University who authored an open access study published in PLoS last year showing that doctors continue to provide high-intensity care for terminally ill patients but personally forego such care for themselves at the end of life, most choosing do-not-resuscitate orders.

2. Early palliative care can cut hospital re-admissions for cancer patients. Richard Riedel, an Oncologist at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina discusses the development of a collaborative model with palliative care specialists to alleviate symptoms in people with advanced cancer. The result has been a reduction in the rates at which patients were sent to intensive care or re-admitted to hospital.

3. The AMEN tool to help health professionals talk to dying patients. The Reverend Rhonda Cooper has developed this tool to help health professionals respond to the spiritual needs of dying patients and their families, even if they are not religious themselves. The tool is called AMEN (Affirm, Meet, Educate, No matter what).

4. Advance care planning and end of life care. The Australian & New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) has recently released its Statement on Care and Decision Making at the End-of-Life for the Critically Ill as a response to the need for intensive care unit staff helping families make very difficult decisions. More information on this can be found at the Advance Care Planning Australia website.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Mean streets: homeless youths from Orange feature in academic report

Twelve young people in Orange who have experienced homelessness before they turned 18 have been interviewed as part of an Australia-wide survey being conducted by university academics.

One of the authors of The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia study, Professor Adam Steen of Charles Sturt University, said of the 12 young people interviewed who had experienced homelessness, half identified as having a mental health issue.

“We surveyed 400 young people Australia-wide and when our final report is collated later this year it will have major implications for policy makers and service providers,” Professor Steen said.

Please see more at:

Regional health needs regional policies

The State government needs to recognise the policy measures required for rural and remote healthcare are distinct from urban needs, according to the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA).  "Whoever wins must listen and consult with people, rather than impose things from Macquarie Street," said NRHA chief executive Gordon Gregory.  There are workforce shortages and the more remote the community the more the shortages are," he said. "The more specialised the service is, the greater the shortage - but that is to be expected in a smaller community.

Please read more at:

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Handling the heat on ice

Rural towns in NSW are calling for an increase in rehabilitation centres to facilitate the escalating number of crystal methamphetamine users.  Community leaders across the State candidly admit their regions have a problem, and call on local people and the State government to help tackle the growing scourge.

 Moree Mayor Katrina Humphries and Coonamble Mayor Alan Karanouh both said the ice problem had been prominent in the community for a few years and had caused an increase of robberies throughout the region.  Problems have been highlighted in Brewarrina, and, in the south of the State, Griffith has identified drug and alcohol misuse as an issue and is surveying the community.

See more from this article at:

Health coaching significantly improves risk outcomes for chronic disease sufferers

Health coaching could improve the recovery of people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A program in Queensland coached patients by telephone after they were discharged from hospital.

A review of the program published in the Medical Journal of Australia today has found that patients who received the coaching significantly reduced their risk factors, as Rachel Carbonell reports.
Please see more at :

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Closing the Gap dashboard to help indigenous health outcomes

The Improvement Foundation (IF) has added a new Closing the Gap dashboard to its online quality improvement portal qiConnect .

The new dashboard, combined with IF's Closing the Gap: Measure and Act initiative, is available for free to general practice users.

The dashboard enables GPs to see at a glance how many of their patient population are recorded as identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander as well as a range of other data relating to the patient group.

This data includes the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who have had a health assessment in the last 12 months, how many have a diagnosis of diabetes recorded, and how many with diabetes have had a blood sugar result recorded in the past 12 months.

GPs can also see a comparison to the practice's non-indigenous data, and to a national average achieved through the other practices participating in IF's qiCommunity.

The idea is to identify where services can be improved for indigenous patients using established and reliable measures developed through IF's Australian Primary Care Collaboratives program, which is focused on diabetes and health checks.

The dashboard supports IF's Closing the Gap: Measure and Act initiative which is aimed at helping general practices to better respond to specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues.

The initiative is open to any general practice or Aboriginal community controlled health organisation.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The hidden harm: Alcohol’s impact on children and families

Funded by FARE and undertaken by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research(CAPR),the new report The hidden harm: Alcohol's impact on children and families, reveals the full extent of alcohol-related family and domestic violence in Australia.

The 2015 study examined the prevalence and effects of heavy drinking on families and children, and the extent to which they persisted or changed over time. It paints a concerning picture of the prevalence of alcohol-related family and domestic violence in Australia, shedding new light on a hidden dimension of alcohol harms that occurs largely behind closed doors.

Key findings:

The hidden harm draws on 2 national surveys of alcohol's harm to others, service system data and qualitative interviews with families, providing for the first time a detailed and valuable insight into the magnitude of the problem and the large numbers of Australian children who are being put at risk.

  • In 2011 there were 29,684 police-reported incidents of alcohol-related domestic violence in Australia, and that's just in the four states and territories where this data is available.
  • Children are being verbally abused, left in unsupervised or unsafe situations, physically hurt or exposed to domestic violence because of others' drinking. Many were also witnessing verbal or physical conflict, drinking or inappropriate behaviour.
  • Over a million children (22% of all Australian children) are estimated to be affected in some way by the drinking of others (2008). 142,582 children were substantially affected (2008), and more than 10,000 Australian children are in the child protection system because of a carers drinking (2006-07).

Friday, 20 February 2015

Density of liquor licences linked to domestic violence in NSW study

Researchers have identified a "tipping point" linking rapid rises in the rate of domestic violence to the number of liquor outlets in an area.

A study by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics shows the frequency of domestic assaults jumps rapidly in local government areas where there are more than two hotels per 1,000 residents.The statewide research also found that non-domestic assaults "increased markedly" in such areas, while violence was also linked to the number of other liquor outlets such as clubs.

See more at:

Report exposes problems of youth homelessness

The extreme difficulties faced by homeless young people have been highlighted in a new report steered by a leading Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic.

The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia Study report is the first study of its kind in Australia and the largest ever undertaken internationally. The study was funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant with chief investigators from three institutions including Professor in Finance Adam Steen, at CSU's School of Accounting and Finance in Bathurst.

"This three-year study of nearly 400 young people around Australia, including some from Orange in central western NSW, has major implications and challenges for policy-makers and service providers," Professor Steen said.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

New booklet shows what can improve the wellbeing of older people

beyondblue has identified and rated the best activities for improving and protecting the mental health of older Australians, in a new booklet specifically for aged care workers, but also helpful for other carers

Based on La Trobe University research, the booklet rates activities on a scale of zero to three for how effective they are at improving older people’s mental health.

Activities identified in the booklet include playing computer games, interacting with clowns, spending time with animals and singing in a choir, among others.

Most activities featured are accompanied by case studies from across Australia, providing real examples of how activities have been implemented and the impact they have had.

See below for more details: