New testing kit promises to improve treatment for breast cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the SPOT-Light HER2 CISH genetic test kit which can determine whether patients with breast cancer are good candidates for treatment with the drug Herceptin. The test identifies if a patient has too many copies of the gene for HER2 protein which causes cells to grow and divide too quickly.
Herceptin effectively targets HER2 protein production and helps stop the growth of cancer cells.
GELLER, J. 'Food and Drug Administration approves 4 new medical devices' Journal of Clinical Engineering October/December 2008 vol 33(4) p. 166-68.

FDA Press Release

2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings

This report extends the analysis presented in 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: first results by providing more detailed information on drug use prevalence, drug-related behaviours and incidents, and support for drug-related policy and legislation. .

Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2008

Cancer in Australia: an overview 2008 presents comprehensive national data on cancer incidence and mortality in Australia in 2005, with projections to 2008. Also included are incidence data by state and territory,remoteness, socioeconomic status and Indigenous status. Summaries are given for cancer survival and prevalence, and cancer screening. Also presented are hospital inpatient statistics for the period 2002-03 to 2006-07, and a discussion of the burden of cancer.

The report reveals an increased prevalence of cancer diagnosis across Australia, but also increased survival times for most forms of cancer

Media release


Also available : National Bowel Cancer Screening Program monitoring report 2008

The Apology (DVD)

Reconciliation Australia has produced "The Apology", a 30-minute documentary on Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations. Available free and narrated by Jack Thompson, this covers the apology itself, reactions to it, and the lead-up to the event.

Enquiries to :

Arthritis and osteoporosis in Australia 2008 (AIHW)

Arthritis and osteoporosis are among the world's leading causes of pain and disability, and impose a substantial burden on the Australian community. These highly prevalent conditions are major reasons for the use of health and allied health services, community assistance programs, and formal and informal care. Under the National Health Priority Area of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, national action is focused on osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis and osteoporosis. This report brings together data and information from a wide variety of sources to provide a picture of arthritis and ostoeporosis in Australia, and highlight some of the main issues relating to these conditions.
Media release


Ourtown : images of your town online

Picture Australia is hosted by the National Library of Australia and collects images of Australia. Under the "Ourtown" project, Picture Australia is attempting to increase its coverage of Australia's rural areas. Images may be uploaded via Flickr software, and then searched and retrieved via Picture Australia. Put your part of GWAHS into Australia's visual record !

Picture Australia

Further information

National Women's Health Policy

The Federal Government has released a discussion paper on developing a National Women's Health Policy. The Policy will focus on encouraging specific health services for women and actively promoting participation of women in health decision making and management.

Job prospects for Indigenous people still lag behind non-Indigenous Australians

The ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous employment rates is only slightly higher in 2006 (0.75) compared to 35 years ago, (0.73) , in 1971. Comparing the 2006 and 1971 census the percentage of the Indigenous population in the workforce remained stable rising only 46.1% from 42% .
Indigenous Participation in Regional Labour Markets 2001-2006 Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at ANU, states " In effect, after decades of government policy aimed at enhancing Indigenous workforce participation , the gap in employment rates barely shifted ".

Supporting Youth Mental Health - New Funding And New Chair For Headspace

The Rudd Government is providing $35.6 million funding to headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, which enables it to continue work on youth mental health. This will allow headspace to continue providing support to young people across a range of areas, including their general and mental health, education, employment opportunities, and drugs and alcohol rehabilitation.

Press release

headspace website

Indigenous tobacco control in Australia : everybody's business

Priorities and approaches in indigenous tobacco control are discussed in the latest CEITC report, Indigenous tobacco control in Australia : everybody's business.

State of World Population 2008

In November 2008, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published State of World Population 2008 "Reaching Common Ground: Culture, Gender and Human Rights", with a Youth Supplement "Generation of Change: Young People and Culture". The 9 chapter report is both heart wrenching and eye-opening. The supplement offers a photo gallery and a wide range of stories from today's youth

The greatest injustice : failures in Aboriginal Health

Former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, delivered the 11th Annual Hawke Lecture in Adelaide last month. Now it is available online in pdf or as an audio podcast. "The Great injustice : why we have failed to improve the health of aboriginal people" is the title of the lecture, and in it Stanley discusses Aboriginal suicide rates, early mortality and the ongoing effects of the stolen generation.
"The most sustainable and important recommendation I want to discuss relates to how we enhance an effective Aboriginal workforce, as not only does that bring economic power to families, but also raises self esteem and longer term success. I will ... leave you with a commitment and a sense of hope that we can and must collectively tackle this major human rights issue in Australia."

Families in Australia : 2008

Families in Australia : 2008 provides a summary of the key issues and trends facing Australian families. It examines a selection of key topics, including fertility, caring responsibilities, economic wellbeing of families, health of family relationships and how Australians are balancing work and family responsibilities.

Press release

Rural health workforce grants

The Department of Health & Ageing will allocate $2.7 million in grants to help, support and train health professionals in 22 organisations in rural and remote communities around Australia.
In Western NSW the University of Sydney - Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health and the North West Slopes (NSW) Division of General Practice are among the successful organisations.

Press release

Australia's mothers and babies 2006 (AIHW)

Australia's mothers and babies 2006 is the sixteenth report providing information on births in Australia from perinatal data collections for each state and territory. The report presents demographic, pregnancy and childbirth factors of women who gave birth in 2006 and the characteristics and outcomes of their babies. The report confirms a trend to more births amongst older mothers, while the overall birth rate is rising.

Media Release

Medical labour force 2006 (AIHW)

This report presents demographic and labour force statistics on the medical profession in Australia and trends in the number of employed doctors. Information presented includes a national and state/territory overview of the number of medical practitioners, their geographic region and overall supply.

National Indigenous Health Performance Measurement System

National Indigenous health performance measurement system.
Anderson, I. et al. Australian Health Review November 2008 vol. 32 No. 4 p. 626-638.

Contact your nearest GWAHS Library for copies.

NSW Rural & Remote Health Conference

Presentations from the inaugural NSW Rural & Remote Health Conference: Information/Inspiration/Innovation, November 2008 are now available from the NSW Institute of Rural Clinical Services & Teaching website

Occupational health and safety risk factors for rural and metropolitan nurses: comparative results from a national nurses survey

Nurses have been found to be exposed to a wide range of occupational hazards. They are particularly vulnerable to several diseases and injuries, including musculoskeletal injuries, latex allergies and needlestick injuries. Concerns have been raised in the research literature that rural and remote workplaces pose further and unique demands and risks on nurses.

The Office of the Australian Safety and Compensation Council conducted a survey in February 2007 on occupational exposures in Australian nurses. This report describes the differences in perceived occupational hazards for rural (or remote) and metropolitan nurses that were found in the 2007 survey in order to inform and facilitate effective policy formulation and OHS intervention.

Gestational diabetes mellitus in Australia, 2005-06 (AIHW)

This is the first national report on the incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus among Australian women. Trends in the incidence of the condition over time, changes in insulin treatment status and differences by high-risk groups-including women aged over 30 years, women who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and women born overseas-are also included.

Click on the link to view the media release and report.

Final Report of the Inquiry into Acute Care in NSW Public Hospitals

NSW Health has released the Final Report of the Inquiry into Acute Care in NSW Public Hospitals, chaired by Peter Garling SC.

The 139 wide-ranging reform recommendations (summarised in the Overview) include :
* Compulsory rural terms for Medical Officers to aid recruitment
* Rural/city hospital partnerships
* An education program for all clinical teachers
* Creation of a Senior Registered Nurse grade to assist retention of RNs of over 10 years experience.
* Enhanced Allied Health services
* Creation of a contracted pool of emergency relief staff.
Media release

AMA Indigenous Health Report Card

The Australian Medical Association has released its 7th AMA Indigenous Health Report Card Ending the Cycle of Vulnerability: The Health of Indigenous Children - focusing on Indigenous children and the discrepancies in their health outcomes.

According to the Report Card, compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts, Indigenous children were:
* More likely to be stillborn, to be born pre-term, to have low birth weight, or die in the first month of life;
* Two to three times more likely to die in the first year of life;
* 11 times more likely to die from respiratory causes;
* At a much higher risk of suffering from infectious and parasitic diseases, respiratory and circulatory problems, hearing loss, rheumatic fever, dental caries, injuries and clinically-significant emotional and behavioural difficulties;
* Nearly 30 times more likely to suffer from nutritional anaemia and malnutrition up to four years of age; and
* Cared for by substantially fewer adults, who had serious health risks themselves.

Other initiatives recommended in the AMA Report Card include the establishment of culturally appropriate services addressing mental health and social and emotional well-being.
The report also argues for increased development of the Indigenous health and medical workforce, a national audit to measure quality of housing, access to clean water and sanitation and for the Australian Government to coordinate improvements in national data management regarding Indigenous identification and health status.The Report includes a Good News and Best Practice insert which contains case studies of successful local health initiatives that have been developed and sustained by Indigenous people in their local communities.

Braver, Stronger Wiser (Depression DVD)

Braver, Stronger, Wiser is a new DVD produced by The Salvation Army that has been designed especially to help people in rural communities recognise and deal with depression.

You can register to receive your FREE Braver, Stronger, Wiser DVD by calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58) or filling in the order form.

The DVD aims both to celebrate the life and resilience of rural Australia, and to help counter disturbing suicide statistics coming out of many farming communities. It shares the stories of four people living in rural and remote Australia who have struggled with - and sought help to manage - various forms of depression.

The DVD features an extensive range of resources including emergency contact numbers, a link to The Salvation Army's Hope for Life online suicide prevention training program, expert advice from Professor Michael Baigent of Beyondblue, and much more.

From mid-December this year, The Salvation Army will freely distribute 500,000 of the DVDs to more than one million rural Australians, including mailing it to 51,000 of Australia's most remote households who have access to few or no medical or counselling services. It will also be distributed through rural GP networks, Salvation Army corps (churches), rural chaplains, 50 rural ABC radio stations, rural postal agencies, and rural Landcare offices.

The Health of the People of New South Wales (Summary Report)

The number of people hospitalised for diabetes over the past 20 years has increased by 160 per cent, the latest report of the NSW Chief Health Officer reveals. It showed that between 1997 and 2007 the percentage of people in NSW aged 16-24 who were obese more than doubled, from 4 per cent to 8.7 per cent. The increase was mainly in young women.

Other health trends in NSW include a significant fall in the levels of risky drinking from 10 years ago (down from 50.4 per cent to 37.2 per cent for men and from 36.3 per cent to 27 per cent for women) as well as smoking rates declining for both men and women by four and 5.9 per cent respectively since 1998.

However, death rates from lung cancer have increased in women since 1997 - for men it dropped by 25 per cent - because smoking rates in women have been declining only for the past 20 years or so.

Suicide rates have also dropped, though mental health is a major priority. About one in six NSW secondary school students reported high levels of psychological distress in 2005.

NSW also had high rates of immunisation: 91.7 per cent of children are now fully immunised, leading to a fall in notifications for diseases including rubella, whooping cough and measles.

The people of New South Wales generally live long and productive lives. A child born in 2006 would now expect to live 79.3 years if male and 84.2 years if female, an increase of just under 3 years since 1997. Australian longevity was third only to Japan and Switzerland in 2006.

This report provides key information on the status of the health of our community, current challenges and inequities and trends in these factors. It provides information to all those working to improve health on the effectiveness of their programs. The report should allow the public to take steps to maintain healthy lives.

This is the seventh report in a series that was first published in 1996. In 2008 the "Summary Report" contains summarised information in tables and graphs on 71 indicators with very little explanatory text. It includes comparisons of key indicators by Health Area, trends over time, an overview of each of the 18 chapters in the e-CHO as well as detailed studies on two special topics. In 2008 these are on "Inequalities in Mortality" and "Childhood overweight and obesity".

National Men's Health Policy

Minister for Health and Ageing The Hon Nicola Roxon has released details of the National Men's Health Policy which is due for release next year.

Discussion and information papers have been released and formal consultations will begin in early 2009.

Discussion papers and details of the consultative process can be downloaded from

go to National Men's Health Policy Resource Kit.

Caring for older Australians at home: new resource for community aged care

A new information resource has been launched to give service providers and care workers a blueprint for providing better care for older people.

The Research to Practice briefings, prepared by The Benevolent Society and the Social Policy Research Centre, aim to bring research evidence to community aged care workers in a user-friendly way, so that they and the older people they work with can benefit from putting evidence into practice.

The first briefing in the series is "Caring for Older Australians: Care workers and care practices that support and enable good care". The second briefing in the series, "Promoting social networks for older people in community aged care" will be released in early 2009. Briefings will be produced 3 times a year in hard copy format and on the internet.

Press Release

Hope, despair and transformation: Climate change and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing

This article aims to provide an introduction to emerging evidence and debate about the relationship between climate change and mental health. The authors argue that:
* the direct impacts of climate change such as extreme weather events will have significant mental health implications;
* climate change is already impacting on the social, economic and environmental determinants of mental health with the most severe consequences being felt by disadvantaged communities and populations;
* understanding the full extent of the long term social and environmental challenges posed by climate change has the potential to create emotional distress and anxiety; and
* understanding the psycho-social implications of climate change is also an important starting point for informed action to prevent dangerous climate change at individual, community and societal levels.

Women and exercise

The Office for Women in the Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs has just released a report on this topic authored by Professor Wendy Brown, Dr Nicola Burton and Dr Kristiann Heesch, Physical activity and health in mid-age and older women.

The benefits of physical activity are well known and this report found that between 2001 and 2004, the percentage of mid-aged women doing 30 minutes of physical activity on most days rose from 45 to 54 per cent - primarily attributed to walking. Australian guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week for health benefits. The evidence reviewed in this report suggests that middle-aged or older women gain few, if any, additional health benefits from any more vigorous exercise than this. Interesting.

Reposted from NCAHS Library Clippings

International Program of Psycho-Social Health Research

IPP-SHR is a collaborative initiative jointly funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and CQUniversity. The primary aim of this international program in research is to examine and document the human experience of serious illness (both physical and mental). IPP-SHR is a broad program addressing a wide range of topic areas including: haematology/oncology; mental health; palliative care; acute medicine; bioethics; rural and remote health; Indigenous health; spirituality; paediatrics; birth studies; and service delivery evaluation.
In essence the program is concerned with contributing to the development of psycho-social services that assist people to deal with the many challenges associated with serious physical and/or mental illness. The core work is to *make a difference* and this is achieved through research, publication, education and consultancy activities. On the IPP-SHR website there are Projects, Programs and a large number of podcasts on such topics as Eating Disorders, Early-Stage Alzheimer's Disease, Humour in Critical Care Settings, Drug Administration Errors, Assessing Cardiovascular Risk and Pediatric Pain Management.
Re posted from NCAHS Library Clippings

Australia Measures Up!

A national Measure Up campaign to tackle obesity, and ultimately to save lives, was launched in October as part of the Australian Better Health Initiative - a joint Australian, State, and Territory government program that aims to reduce the prevalence of risk factors for chronic disease, limit the incidence and the impact of these diseases, and reduce morbidity and mortality rates. Measure Up encourages Australians to measure their waists so that they can tell whether they are at risk of developing a lifestyle-related chronic disease.A range of free promotional materials and other resources is available from the website

The State of the World's Children 2008 (UNICEF)

This UNICEF 164-page report looks into the world of children in five chapters : 1. Child Survival: Where we stand ; 2. Lessons learned from evolving health-care systems and practice ; .3 Community partnerships in primary health care for mothers, newborns and children ; 4. Strengthening community partnerships, the continuum of care, and health systems ; 5 Uniting for child survival. Each chapter contains information on child mortality rates around the globe, community public health partnerships, and health care systems in the developing world.

AMA Public Hospital Report Card 2008

The AMA has now released its 2008 public hospital report card in respect of the 2006-07 financial year. This is the second AMA public hospital report card. The last one was issued in October 2007. The report card is based on publicly released information on the performance of public hospitals through the Federal Government's state of our public hospitals report June 2008 and the AIHW's Australian Hospital Statistics 2006-07.

The major issue again this year has been the decline in the Federal Government's share of public hospital funding and the need to establish a proper base level of funding given that 5 yearly renewal of funding is to be ceased. This shortfall in funding is leading to a shortage of beds which is in turn impacting on the ability of public hospitals to meet key performance measures in relation to access to Emergency Department treatments and acute care admissions.

Report card 2008

Media release

First report card 2007

Farmers much more likely to commit suicide: report

This report describes the high rate of suicide among male Australian farmers, which is almost 50 per cent higher than the average in rural communities, according to a study calling for better targetted efforts to treat depression.

Prolonged drought and increasing social isolation are being blamed for new figures showing 34 in every 100,000 male farmers commit suicide, which is significantly up on the 24 per 100,000 among rural men generally.

Ear hotline a success in remote areas

Hearing Australia says more than 100,000 people have called a national telephone hotline (1800 826 500) that diagnoses hearing problems. Managing Director, Steven Grundy says tackling the high level of ear disease in the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory is a priority for the organisation. Mr Grundy says the hotline was set up for people to test their hearing over the phone and has been a successful way to provide a service to people living in remote and regional areas. "The level of ear disease in the Aboriginal population is much higher than the general population and Hearing Australia is committed to providing quality ehealth care to Indigenous Australians," said Mr Grundy. "This technology includes videotoscopy and videoconferencing and it enables a clinician to conduct appointments without being present with the client and really see more people."

Hostages to men's business

This article describes the ongoing pattern of violence that plagues Aboriginal family and community life, especially - though not exclusively - in remote Australia.
It also focuses on the dysfunctional response of mainstream Australian political institutions to the accelerating crisis in the Aboriginal world.

The Australian Diabetes Map

The Australian Diabetes Map is the only national map monitoring the spread of diabetes in Australia.

The Map uses groundbreaking information technology to present population data about Australians diagnosed with diabetes. It shows the numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes in all parts of Australia with information on age, gender and type of diabetes.

The data in the Map has been sourced from the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) Registrant database. The Map can be searched by state, electorate and postcode and also provides breakdowns by gender, age and type of diabetes.

First Taste : how Indigenous Australians learned about grog

First Taste : how Indigenous Australians learned about grog by Maggie Brady, is a set of 6 booklets aimed at challenging the myths and misconceptions surrounding Indigenous alcohol problems. The history of Indigenous contact with alcohol is examined in a series of short chunks suitable for community education. First set available free. See link for order form.

The health risks of climate change (Report)

National adaptation research plan (human health): consultation draft
A.J. McMichael and others / National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility

Climate change poses direct and indirect risks to health. Direct risks include physical injury because of more frequent events such as bushfire, and increased heat-related death and disease. Indirect risks include more infectious diseases transmitted through vectors such as insects, and mental and physical health difficulties that typically follow social and economic disruption and dislocation such as drought. The diversity of health risks from climate change presents a direct challenge to the health sector, including acute health-care and the public health system. Many health-protecting activities will need to be undertaken by other sectors of government and industry, as well as by individuals and communities. This Plan will guide researchers generating the information Australia needs to develop an effective and equitable portfolio of adaptive strategies.

National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: summary of results, 2007 (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

This report provides information on the prevalence of selected lifetime and twelve-month mental disorders by three major disorder groups: anxiety disorders (eg social phobia), affective disorders (eg depression) and substance use disorders (eg alcohol harmful use). It also provides information on the level of impairment, the health services used for mental health problems, physical conditions, social networks and caregiving, as well as demographic and socio-economic characteristics. The survey collected information from approximately 8,800 Australians aged 16-85 years.

Towards a National Primary Health Care Strategy (Discussion paper)

Health Minister Nicola Roxon has called for public submissions to respond to the new discussion paper on Australia's first ever National Primary Health Care Strategy, released today. Primary health care is the frontline care in the community - provided by GPs, nurses and allied health professionals. As such, the Strategy will be a core element of the Rudd Government's response to the health challenges of the 21st century.

The closing date for submissions is 27 February 2009. Submission details (and online forms) are available at the Strategy website.

Press release

Discussion paper

Diabetes DVDs from Diabetes Australia

"That Diabetes" Tackling It Together is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander documentary that was produced by Blackfella Films Pty Ltd. The aim of the project was to visually present the harshness, beauty and remoteness of the Australian landscape and to highlight in a culturally sensitive way the difficulties faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in relation to diabetes. The production and distribution of this documentary has been made possible with funding by the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) administered by Diabetes Australia.

Also available : "Life Guide for Young People with Diabetes on the Move" and "Understanding gestational diabetes".

Details and order forms

It Takes a Village (Free DVD)

In the past 10 years the number of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect of children in this country has more than doubled. We need to find ways to reduce that incidence. Experts are now telling us that social isolation is a major risk factor for child abuse and neglect. This 26 min. program looks at the development of services that aim to reduce social isolation, and to support families and children before abuse or neglect occurs. The program illustrates the belief that strong communities and support networks are essential to the effective functioning of families, and help them to provide a safe and healthy environment for their children.

Three filmed case studies of interventions that aim to reduce isolation and build stronger networks and communities are featured. They include a program for young mothers in Mildura, Vic; a workshop on fathering in Nowra, on the south coast of NSW; and a community-building project in Kalumburu, an Indigenous community in Western Australia. The program will be of interest to GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, Aboriginal health workers, youth officers and community workers.

Registration (free) required to order.

Wellbeing of Australian Children (ARACY)

The ARACY Report Card (and full report)present a summary of the wellbeing of Australia's young people. It provides an international perspective and sets a baseline for future monitoring. The Report Card has eight domains on the health and wellbeing of young Australians : Material wellbeing, Health and safety, Education, training and employment, Peer and family relationships, Behaviours and risks, Subjective wellbeing, Participation and Environment

An international comparison of 42 measures of childhood wellbeing shows Australia ranks 13th out of 23 OECD countries on childhood mental health. Indigenous children fare disproportionately badly across a range of indicators from infant mortality through teenage pregnancy and exposure to poverty. Australian children are four times more likely to be living in poverty than a child in Finland, with 12% of children living in Australian households where the income is less than 50% of the national median on the most recent measure. About 7.2% of children report having fewer than 11 books in their home, a figure that sits at 19% for Aboriginal children.

Primary Health Care - Now More Than Ever

This is the title of WHO's World Health Report 2008. The Report asks why the principles of Primary Health Care, put forward thirty years ago, are falling short even in the most developed countries. "Globalization is putting the social cohesion of many countries under stress, and health systems are clearly not performing as well as they could and should. People are increasingly impatient with the inability of health services to deliver. Few would disagree that health systems need to respond better and faster to the challenges of a changing world."

Asthma in Australia 2008 (AIHW)

This report brings together data from a wide range of sources to describe the current status of asthma in Australia. It includes information on the number of people who have asthma and who visit their GP, are hospitalised or die due to asthma. Time trends and profiles of people who receive various treatments for asthma are also presented, along with information on those who have written asthma action plans. In addition, comorbidities and quality of life among people with asthma are investigated. Also included is a chapter on asthma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Australian rates of asthma remain high by international standards. Of particular concern is that:

* Australians with asthma continue to smoke almost as commonly as people without asthma, despite the known adverse effects.
* An estimated 11% of Australian children with asthma live in homes where smoking occurs inside the home.
* The majority of people with asthma do not have a written asthma action plan, even though national guidelines have recommended their use for the past 20 years.
* Asthma is a major problem among Indigenous Australians. Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, they have higher rates of hospitalisation and mortality due to asthma.

Click on the link to view the media release and report

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia (AIHW)

Alcohol and cannabis remain the two top drugs of concern amongst people seeking support for substance abuse problems, according to reports released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Two reports from the National Minimum Data Set are accompanied by supplementary reports for each state and the ACT.

Media release with links to publications

National Inhalants Information Service

This new website and database, developed by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, deals with all substances which are inhaled with the intention of producing mind-altering effects. A highly useful resource for all drug and alcohol workers, teachers, indigenous health workers and community workers. Many inhalants are not illegal but are very dangerous with no safe level of exposure. A current awareness newsletter is also available.

Tough times bring warnings of depression and stress (rural mental health focus)

This article relates to the challenges and uncertainty facing those living in the bush. Many farming families are experiencing mental health problems, including depression but are unaware of the warning signs.

There will be a variety of workshops in the Central West and New England areas which will help farmers and residents of local communities gain an understanding of depression and anxiety, their signs and symptoms and the early warning signs that a person needs professional assistance.

A review of the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australian peoples - considerations, challenges and opportunities

This review by Darren Garvey aims to describes aspects of the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australian people and elements of the Australian contexts in which they live. A deliberate emphasis is made here to highlight major signposts, research findings and interventions concerning Indigenous people.

Darren Garvey is an Indigenous professional with experience as a recipient and provider of services aimed at addressing the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) needs of Indigenous people, and as an academic involved in the training of Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals in providing such services.

Towards recovery: mental health services in Australia

This report by the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, makes recommendations aimed at setting a clearer future for mental health in Australia, providing greater accountability, improving the programs and services that already exist and addressing some of the remaining gaps and shortfalls. The committee considers that further investment, leadership and cooperation are required to achieve an adequate community-based, recovery-focused mental health care system in Australia.

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) Prophylaxis (New NSW Health guidelines)

Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis is important in the prevention of avoidable deaths, and NSW Health has released medical and surgical VTE prevention guidelines in poster and booklet formats. Electronic versions are available from the NSW Department of Health website.

Integrating mental health into primary care - a global perspective (WHO/WONCA)

A joint report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) urges the better integration of mental health into primary care. Best practice examples from member nations are featured, along with 10 broad principles designed to guide the integration process. The report highlights a lack of recognition of mental health problems in primary care, and a consequent lack of treatment of many mental disorders.

Obesity in Australia : a need for urgent action

Children face a two-year drop in their life expectancy if current levels of overweight and obesity are not reduced, and healthy habits continue to be ignored.

The National Preventative Health Taskforce, in its report Obesity in Australia : a need for urgent action has warned that unhealthy lifestyles will soon impose a heavy toll on life as well as health budgets, with a projected increase in Type 2 diabetes likely to add $6 billion to the nation's healthcare bills.

To reduce the consumption of harmful high-fat foods, the paper -- released by federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday -- suggests restricting junk food advertising, particularly to children, taxing unhealthy foods, regulating sugar and fat content, making food labelling clearer and encouraging people to walk more through consistent town and building planning. The research suggests that obesity alone -- not including people who are merely overweight -- is costing $8.3billion a year in healthcare and other costs.

Press Release

Australia : the healthiest country by 2020 (Discussion paper ... a chance to give YOUR views)

The Preventative Health Taskforce appointed by Health Minister Nicola Roxon has just released a major discussion paper - Australia: the Healthiest Country by 2020 - with supporting technical reports, and is keen to consult with as many organisations, groups and individuals as possible on this and the National Preventative Health Strategy, which is the next stage in its work. A national series of consultation meetings is planned, including one tentatively scheduled for Dubbo on 7 November.

Details of the consultations may be found at (This will be updated) Please RSVP to

$1.5 M for new projects (Indigenous)

$1.5 million for remote community projects and new job opportunitiesThe Australian Government is providing $1.55 million for 18 small-scale NT community projects including more than $600,000 for two important capital projects in Wadeye, the Northern Territory's largest Indigenous community.

An additional $900,000 will be provided for 16 additional projects that will deliver immediate improvements for remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.All projects will provide new employment and training opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

Ensuring happy campus at uni (CSU-Mental Health Week)

To mark Mental Health Week, Charles Sturt University invited guest lecturer Euan Hails to its Orange campus to discuss issues of depression and anxiety with staff and students.

Professor Hails, the principal advisor for mental health nurses at NSW Health’s nursing and midwifery office and adjunct associate professor at CSU’s school of nursing and midwifery, delivered the lecture on Wednesday.

2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey

The results of the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey provide a snapshot of key health indicators of Australian children, namely nutrient intakes, body measurements and physical activity levels. The report finds major concerns in levels of nutrient intake, physical activity levels and both underweight and obesity.

General practice activity in Australia 2007-08 (AIHW)

This publication is the 22nd in the General practice series produced by the Australian General Practice Statistics and Classification Centre, a collaborating unit of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the University of Sydney. It reports the results of the tenth year of the BEACH program, April 2007 to March 2008. Data reported by 953 general practitioners on 95,300 GP-patient encounters are used to describe aspects of general practice in Australia: the general practitioners and their patients; the problems managed and the treatments provided. The contribution of practice nurses to the GP-patient encounters in terms of their clinical activities, the problems they assist with and the Medicare items claimed, are described in this report. Information on body weight to height ratio, smoking status and alcohol use for a subsample of patients is also provided.
Click on the link to view the media release , report and data tables .

Social impact of drought

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke received the final report from the independent expert panel looking at the social impact of drought. The panel held 25 public meetings across the country, including in the Northern Territory, NSW, Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia.

The panel discussed the need for an improved drought policy which helps farmers plan for the future and prepare and adapt for the social, environmental and economic impacts of future droughts.

Mental health week to promote a positive message

National Mental Health Week will be held from October 5-11, with over 1000 activities across Australia to promote good mental health.

According to the Mental Health Council of Australia, one out of every five Australians will experience some form of mental illness each year, and three out of every hundred will be seriously affected. Depression and anxiety are the most prevalent mental disorders experienced by Australians. Depression alone is predicted to be one of the world's largest health problems by 2020.

An overview of the economic impact of Indigenous disadvantage : Access Economics / Reconciliation Australia

Closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people would deliver sizeable economic benefits and increase living standards for all Australians, according to this analysis of the economy-wide advantages from improving the quality of life of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians over the next 20 years.

The report concludes there is a "clear economic justification for government action to reduce Indigenous disadvantage" based on a reduction in the burden of disease and an improvement in the ability of Indigenous Australians to contribute to and share economic prosperity.

Trends in Aged Care Services : Some Implications looking at trends and demand for aged care services. Productivity Commission

The number of Australians aged over 85 will increase at least four-fold over the next 40 years, the Productivity Commission has found in a new report. The report says that the aged care workforce will need to be dramatically boosted over the next decade to deal with the increase. It also found the diversity among the ageing population, in terms of needs, preferences and affluence, will pose additional challenges to the sorts of aged care on offer.

A Compendium of Critical Appraisal Tools for Public Health Practice

Donna Ciliska, Helen Thomas, Cathy Buffett. Introduction to Evidence-Informed Public Health and a Compendium of Critical Appraisal Tools for Public Health Practice. National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, February 2008.
This background paper defines and summarizes the concept of Evidence-Informed Public Health. The paper also includes a compendium of critical appraisal tools to help you incorporate the best research evidence into public health practice and policy development.

Health expenditure Australia 2006-07 (AIHW health and welfare expenditure series no. 35)

This report examines expenditure on health goods and services in Australia for 1996-97 to 2006-07. It shows that Australia spent over $ 94.0 billion on health in 2006-07, an estimated rise of $7.3 billion since 2005-06. This report presents expenditure estimates: at the aggregate level; as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP); on a per person basis; by state and territory; by comparison with selected OECD and Asia-Pacific countries; and by source of funding (Australian Government, other governments and the non-government sector). This report will be helpful to anyone interested in studying, analysing and comparing estimates of health expenditure in Australia.

13th NSW Rural Mental Health Conference, November 26-28, 2008

Held at Cypress Lakes Resort, in the Hunter Valley, the 13th NSW Rural Mental Health Conference has the themes : Promotion, Early Intervention and Recovery. Other topics will also include Recruitment and Retention in Rural Areas, Working with Families, Carers making a Difference.

Making progress: the health, development and wellbeing of Australia's children and young people (AIHW)

This report delivers the latest and most reliable information on how, as a nation, we are faring according to key statistical indicators of child and youth health, development and wellbeing. The report covers children and young people aged 0-19 years, and includes indicators for the entire 0-19 year age range as well as indicators for three different stages of development: 1) infancy and early childhood; 2) school age childhood; and 3) adolescence. Information is presented on important issues such as mental health, disability, risk factors for chronic disease, mortality, education, homelessness, crime, jobless families and family economic situation. Particular attention is given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth, and to how Australia compares internationally. This is an essential resource for policy makers, researchers, practitioners and anyone interested in the progress of Australia's children and youth.

AIHW catalogue number PHE 104.

Media release


Free patient materials for your patients with ADHD

Useful information on ADHD Diagnosing and Patient education (Brochures and Handouts)

Rural health experts give grim diagnosis

Country doctors want the Commonwealth to take control of health services in the bush and their peak body is in Canberra this week to take that message to the Federal Government.

The blunt diagnosis from the National Rural Health Alliance to the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, when they meet on Wednesday will be that Australia's rural health system is broken and radical treatment is needed to fix it. The alliance represents 28 different groups that deliver health services in the bush, from GPs to nurses to physiotherapists.

Qld: Climate change link to mental health

A largely unrecognised effect of climate change - its impact on mental health - will be considered at two Queensland conferences this week. The topic is high on the agenda of the Queensland Landcare Conference being held at Monto, in the state's southeast.
"Creating futures : Research, Practice and Policy" : a Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health conference in Cairns will also address the possible impacts. Report

Quality Standards for Aboriginal Aged Care

The Australian Government today detailed a number of measures to improve the long-term quality of aged care for Indigenous communities.

Rural, regional and remote health: indicators of health system performance

This report focuses on a comprehensive range of health issues concerning people living in regional and remote Australia. It includes information relating to health system performance (such as health service usage and supply of health workers) and is the 10th report in the AIHW's Rural Health Series.

AIHW catalogue number PHE 103 (Internet only)

Media release : City versus bush.

New Dementia Resources

The Minister for Ageing, Mrs Justine Elliot today launched three new
$600,000 dementia training resources - as part of Dementia Awareness
Week .
The three dementia training resources developed as part of the
Australian Government*s Dementia Initiative - are:

* "Local Knowledge: A dementia care e-learning resource for rural
and remote aged care workers" focuses on people living in regional

* "Strangers in a Strange Land: Cultural Competence in Dementia
Care" focuses on people from culturally and linguistically diverse
backgrounds; and

* "2 Young 4 Dementia - Meeting the Needs of People with Younger
Onset Dementia" to support improved dementia awareness and care for
younger people with dementia, their carers and families in a variety of
work and care environments.

Copies of these free resources can be ordered by email

B Positive

B Positive - all you wanted to know about hepatitis B : a guide for primary care providers is the latest in an informative series of guides available from the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine. Available for download, or can be ordered in hard copy.

Keeping Care Complete (World Federation for Mental Health)

The Keeping Care Complete study of nearly 700 psychiatrists and almost 1100 carers was conducted in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the UK and the United States. 78 Australian psychiatrists were surveyed. The research examined how stigma, treatment, non-adherence and relapse affect the lives of people living with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia.

The study found that relapse prevention and long-term efficacy are primary concerns facing Australian psychiatrists treating people with serious mental health illness. Almost three-quarters of Australian psychiatrists say up to 60% of their own patients discontinue their medication without consulting them. Some 86% report feeling frustrated at this. In almost all cases (99%) they felt this resulted in a relapse. In fact, hospitalisation (95%), social isolation, relationship breakdown and inability to work (all 88%) are cited by Australian psychiatrists as the major fall-out from bipolar and schizophrenia relapse.

Release of the Keeping Complete Data coincides with Australia hosting the 5th World Conference on Mental Health and the Prevention of Mental and Behavioural Disorders in Melbourne (September 10-12). Keeping Care Complete was developed as a partnership between the World Federation for Mental Health and Eli Lilly and Company.

Other resources available from the Federation website include "Learning about bipolar ", "Life is a classroom" (child mental health website) and "Understanding generalized anxiety disorder".

Injury as a chronic health issue in Australia (AIHW)

This briefing provides an overview of injury as a chronic health issue in Australia. The report highlights the long-term health consequences following severe injury and the effects on individual's physical and psychosocial wellbeing. Types of injuries covered in the Briefing include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns as well as injury comorbidities such as fractures and self-harm.

Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council

The Federal Government has announced the composition of the new Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council. It will be chaired by Professor Ian Webster (UNSW) and members include Prof. Brian Kelly from the Centre for Rural & Remote Mental Health at Orange.

Maternity Services Review (The Department of Health and Ageing)

The Australian Government is undertaking a Review of Maternity Services. The Review will be led by the Commonwealth Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Ms Rosemary Bryant.

The Review will:

o canvass a wide range of issues relevant to maternity services, including antenatal services, birthing options, postnatal services up to six weeks after birth, and peer and social support for women in the perinatal period;
o ensure that all interested parties have an opportunity to participate; and
o inform the development of a National Maternity Services Plan.

The success of the Review depends largely upon the participation of people and organisations in the community. The Review aims to provide the opportunity for all points of view in the community to be heard and considered. A consultation process will allow individuals, groups and organisations with an interest in maternity services to participate.

As part of the Review consultation process the Department has prepared, Improving Maternity Services in Australia: A Discussion Paper from the Australian Government (PDF 1468 KB), it is now seeking submissions (closing date 31 October, 2008) from interested stakeholders in response to the Discussion Paper.

If you are unable to access the PDF please send an email to and an alternative copy will be provided.

Pollution linked to obesity

Exposure to hexachlorobenzene during pregnancy increases the risk of overweight in children aged 6 years
Agnes Smink et al

Aim: To determine whether prenatal exposure to hexachlorobenzene (HCB) has potential adverse effects on child's weight and body mass index (BMI) in a general population with no local pollution sources.
Methods: Starting from mid 1997, all mothers presenting for antenatal exposure in Menorca were recruited. Subsequently, 482 children were enrolled. HCB was measured in cord blood. Weight and height were measured at birth and at age 6.5 years.
Results: Children with HCB levels higher than 1.03 ng/mL in cord blood were 1.14 kg (0.38) heavier and had a higher BMI (β= 0.80 (0.34)) than children with HCB levels lower than 0.46 ng/mL. No statistically significant associations were found in height. Children in the higher exposure group of HCB had an increased risk of 2.5 and 3.0 of being overweight and obese. Children from normalweight mothers also presented an increased risk of having higher BMI with increasing concentrations of HCB in cord serum.
Conclusion: Prenatal exposure to HCB is associated with an increase in BMI and weight at age 6.5 years. Further studies with larger samples and longer follow-up are needed to confirm these results.

Request your local library for Full text.

Nursing and midwifery codes of ethics released

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council has released the following new ethics documents :
Code of Ethics for Nurses - August 2008
Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses - August 2008
Code of Ethics for Midwives - August 2008
Code of Professional Conduct for Midwives - August 2008
Also available from the site are the earlier standards documents :
National Competency Standards for the Registered Nurse, 4th ed, 2006
National Competency Standards for the Midwife, 1st ed, 2006
National Competency Standards for the Nurse Practitioner, 1st ed, 2006
National Competency Standards for the Enrolled Nurse, 2002

Effective dissemination: a systematic review of implementation strategies for the AOD field

Innovations, such as treatment interventions, programs and therapies, may be costly to develop and evaluate and there is increasing political and financial pressure to ensure that effective and cost-effective health care and professional services are available where needed. Even when practitioners are aware of the evidence for best practice and are willing to change their behaviour, making the required changes in the context of long established patterns of behaviour can be difficult, particularly if the organisational environment is not conducive to change. Moreover, innovations are not self-executing. Even simple programs that require only small changes may benefit from an effective implementation strategy. The National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction undertook a systematic literature review of the most commonly used strategies designed to increase the uptake of innovations into professional practice. Analyses were undertaken to evaluate their effectiveness and to determine their relevance and applicability for use in the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) field. By evaluating and synthesising the evidence from a wide range of sources, NCETA aimed to identify the key factors underlying successful dissemination strategies and develop a framework for dissemination and implementation of innovations in the AOD field.

Water and the Murray-Darling Basin - A Statistical Profile, 2000-01 to 2005-06 (ABS)

Much of GWAHS is part of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), a huge area which occupies 14% of the Australian land mass, and uses 52% of total Australian water use. Water and the Murray-Darling Basin - A Statistical Profile, 2000-01 to 2005-06 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides a complete profile of this vast area.

The MDB is an area of national significance for social, cultural, economic and environmental reasons. The social impacts of changes in agriculture and environmental events, such as drought, are important for people in the MDB. The MDB also contains nationally significant environmental assets which are reliant on water to maintain ecosystem health.

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission has also released several reports on the devastating effects of drought on the MDB

Dementia learning resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.

This kit, developed by Alzheimer's Australia in consultation with the Department of Health and Ageing, provides several resources for the assessment of dementia in indigenous peoples. Includes assessment schedules, guide booklets, 2 CD-ROMS and posters. To obtain a copy email :
Description :

National Drug Strategy Household Survey

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey: State and territory supplement published on August 29 follows the Survey's First Results report released in April 2008. Minister for Health Reba Meagher said new figures show there has been a continued decline in illicit drug use and high risk drinking in NSW. The survey found:
*illicit drug use has fallen from 14.6 p% in 2004 to 12.1% for 2007
*cannabis use fell from 10.7% in 2004 to 8% for 2007
*methamphetamine use decreased from 3.1% to 1.8% in 2007
*ecstasy use remained steady at 3.4% for 2007.
For alcohol use the survey found:
*low risk drinking decreased slightly from 49% in 2004 to 48.1% in 2007
*high risk drinking fell from 32.2% to 2004 to 31.8% in 2007
*daily drinking decreased from 8.8% in 2004 to 8.3% in 2007.
The results are based on a survey of more than 23,000 Australians conducted in 2007, and provide profiles of drug use and community attitudes in each of the states and territories.

Disability in Australia: trends in prevalence, education, employment and community living (AIHW)

This bulletin provides an overview of disability trends over two decades, including trends in need for and receipt of assistance with specific basic activities of daily life. It also examines the trends in three major areas of people with a disability: education, employment and community living.

Call for proposals to improve aged and community care for Indigenous Australians

The Australian Government this week called for tenders to develop new workforce training to help Indigenous people working in aged and community care in the Northern Territory (NT).The project will give priority to 254 people in 49 remote communities as well as other Indigenous people working in Home and Community Care (HACC) throughout the NT.

Stand up and be counted (Indigenous community health)

This article describes how the Aboriginal community is missing out on funding and government support. It's main focus in within the Orange regional area.

National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission

The National Health & Hospitals Reform Commission called for submissions relating to reform of the Australian health system.
Many of the 500+ submissions received are now available from the website, along with the Commission's set of principles and a report on a framework for the next Australian Health Care Agreements.

Guide to management of hypertension 2008. (Heart Foundation)

The Heart Foundation has just released Guide to management of hypertension 2008.
The guidelines take a strong evidence-based approach, looking at the patient in a holistic and individual way. Doctors are instructed to take blood pressure with strict adherence to technique, using both arms and on several occasions and in different settings, before diagnosing hypertension.
Whether the patient should be medicated depends on their personal risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next five years, taking into account factors such as age, weight, family history and lifestyle. People with diabetes, existing heart or arterial disease, chronic kidney disease and a strong family history of high cholesterol or early heart problems should be on blood pressure medication even if their blood pressure readings are in the normal range.
Doctors are instructed to manage the lifestyle risk factors in all patients, whether or not their blood pressure is elevated.

Health and climate change

Climate change is having an impact on rural health. Rural and Remote Health has published a special Climate Change issue.

The future, our rural populations and climate change - a special issue
of Rural and Remote Health

Population health needs beyond ratifying the Kyoto Protocol: a look at
occupational deprivation

Control, uncertainty, and expectations for the future: a qualitative
study of the impact of drought on a rural Australian community

Malaria and pond-based rainwater harvesting linkages in the fringes of central highland Ethiopia

Responding to health impacts of climate change in the Australian desert

Also of interest on this topic, a W.A.Department of Health report Health impacts of climate change: Adaptation strategies for western Australia.

Strengthening Rural Communities Resource Kit

The Resource Kit is designed as a practical manual to assist in planning and undertaking a process of community renewal. It functions as a toolkit and reference manual for information about community sustainability and resilience, especially in rural and regional communities.

This package has been designed to support rural communities involved in managing change. The package is comprised of a theoretical framework, a how-to guide, community tools, templates and spreadsheets.

National survey of Adult Oral Health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released 13 new reports : 8 presenting results from The National Survey of Adult Oral Health, four dental labour force reports, and one on the oral health of adult public dental patients:

The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 Australian Capital Territory (AIHW catalogue number DEN 175)
The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 New South Wales (AIHW catalogue number DEN 176)
The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 Northern Territory (AIHW catalogue number DEN 177)
The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 Queensland (AIHW catalogue number DEN 178)
The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 South Australia (AIHW catalogue number DEN 179)
The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 Tasmania (AIHW catalogue number DEN 180)
The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 Victoria (AIHW catalogue number DEN 181)
The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 Western Australia (AIHW catalogue number DEN 182)

Dental labour force in Australia, 2005 (Internet Only)
Dental hygienist labour force in Australia, 2005 (Internet Only)
Dental therapist labour force in Australia, 2005 (Internet Only)
Dental prosthetist labour force in Australia, 2005 (Internet Only)
Oral health of adult public dental patients (Internet Only)

Identifying cost-effective interventions to reduce the burden of harm associated with alcohol misuse in Australia

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the cost- effectiveness of interventions to reduce the burden of harm associated with alcohol misuse in Australia. The key findings suggest that all the prevention interventions modelled are more cost-effective in reducing alcohol-related harm than those that treat alcohol dependence.

Men's health services in GWAHS

A GWAHS Men's Health Network Group has been formed and has begun meeting in Dubbo.

The group aims to develop sustainable services to men within GWAHS.

Plans are being made to hold a workshop/forum in Dubbo on 16-10-08.

The group has five members : Andrew Whale, Paul Elbourne, Malcolm Stacy, Jim Herbert and Michael Barnes.

Mental health services in Australia 2005-06 (AIHW)

This the 9th AIHW annual report on the characteristics and activity of Australia's mental health services. Details from a wide range of data sources for the 2005-06 period are presented, together with changes over time. Information on mental health care provided by a range of services is detailed. Included are ambulatory services (such as community-based services, emergency departments, private psychiatrists, allied health professionals and general practitioners), hospital and residential services and other services (such as supported accommodation services) In addition, information is provided on mental health-related prescriptions and mental health resources such as facilities, workforce and expenditure. Comprehensive data is provided for each state and territory, and comparisons are made between population groups (including Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians). This report is a useful resource for health planners, policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers and others with an interest in mental health in Australia.
Also available from Can Print for $34.00 [AIHW Cat. No. HSE 56] (1300 889 873).
Media release

A picture of osteoporosis in Australia

At least 600,000 Australians are affected by osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become fragile and weak and increasing the risk of fracture, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Osteoporosis Australia. A silent disease, osteoporosis usually shows no signs or symptoms, and so often goes undiagnosed until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis affects mostly women and men of middle-age and older. 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 60 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. These fractures may lead to chronic pain, activity restrictions, loss of independence and, sometimes, death,' said Dr Kuldeep Bhatia, Head of the AIHW's National Centre for Monitoring Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions.

Media release

Close the gap: National Indigenous health equality targets

This report by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and the Steering Committee for Indigenous Health Equality presents the outcomes from the National Indigenous Health Equality Summit, 18-20 March, 2008. The Prime Minister, the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Opposition Leader, as well as leaders of Indigenous health peak bodies and the mainstream health peak bodies signed a historic Close the Gap Statement of Intent in which they agreed to work in partnership to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by the year 2030. As a part of this effort they agreed to ensuring that primary health care services and health infrastructure for Indigenous Australians were capable of bridging the gap in health standards by 2018. They also committed to measuring, monitoring, and reporting on their joint efforts in accordance with a range of supporting sub-targets and benchmarks. The Indigenous Health Equality Targets and the benchmarks contained here are presented to that end. These have been developed with a range of experts with experience in Indigenous health.

Reducing harm to patients from healthcare associated infections

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released the draft report Reducing harm to patients through healthcare associated infection: the role of surveillance.

The report provides up to date scientific and clinical advice on how to reduce HAI by the use of the surveillance of processes of care and of infection rates of certain micro-organisms, in a variety of settings. The Commission reports that hospital infection rates could be halved if health workers simply washed their hands more regularly and more thoroughly. It has found that around 200,000 people each year are contracting infections within the healthcare system and two million extra bed days are occupied by patients because they have picked up healthcare associated infection. The total cost is about $20 million per year.

Dementia Resource Guide

A comprehensive new guide on the Department of Health & Ageing website, designed to assist people who care for those with dementia. Covers all major areas with lots of links to other resources.

Inspirational journeys (Free diabetes DVD)

The inaugural Inspirational Journeys award program unearthed five unsung heroes from among Australia's dedicated diabetes healthcare professionals. The program, a collaboration among Diabetes Australia, the Australian Diabetes Educators Association, Australian Diabetes Society and Eli Lilly Australia, recognises the contribution of multiple disciplines working together to improve diabetes health outcomes.

During 2007, judges selected five award recipients nationally, who were filmed on location to produce a documentary about their work.

The Inspirational Journeys documentary is available on DVD. If you would like to order your free copy, please contact Lilly on ph: 02 9325 4594.

Sources for Drug and Alcohol research

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW has just published a useful document called Searching the grey literature to access information on Drug and Alcohol Research : a resource to identify drug related databases and websites, by Bianca Calabria and a team of writers.
Grey literature is material that is not formally published by commercial publishers or peer reviewed journals. It includes reports, fact sheets, conference proceedings and other documents from institutions, organisations, and government agencies. It is often hidden away on the Internet and difficult to unearth, but can be extremely valuable. This document gives a comprehensive and amazingly detailed list of databases and websites where you can freely find information on this topic.

Pathways into the health workforce for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Report)

The Pathways report provides key recommendations that focus on maximising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the health workforce, by promoting and improving pathways between school, vocational education and training (VET) and higher education and retaining and building the capacity of the existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce by addressing ongoing support and career development needs.The report highlights the need for strong collaboration between health and education across all levels of government and identifies four areas for action: the student and their needs ; the institutional context ; enabling the system ; and leadership for change.

The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin (e-journal)

The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin (ISSN 1445-7253) is the electronic journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. The purpose of the Bulletin is to facilitate access to information of relevance to Australian Indigenous health. The current issue, Vol. 8, No. 3 is now available.

Australian e-Health Research Centre

CSIRO today welcomed the launch of the Australian e-Health Research Centre (AEHRC) as a national venture, supported by A$20 million in funding from the Federal and Queensland governments.  Research undertaken at the AEHRC is leading to the development of simulated training tools (enabling colonoscopists, for instance, to become more skilled), home monitoring systems for patients recovering from heart attack, and improved imaging techniques to facilitate early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. Established in 2003 as a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government, the AEHRC is a key delivery point into the health system for CSIRO health research based on information and communication technologies (ICT). Reposted from NCAHS Library Clippings

Living is for everyone: research and evidence in suicide prevention

This report by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs sets the context for suicide prevention activity, summarising current research, evidence and statistics relating to suicide and suicide prevention in Australia. It includes material on suicide risk and protective factors for suicide, suicide trends and comparisons, evidence of what works in suicide prevention and a discussion of the Living Is For Everyone (LIFE) suicide prevention model.

GreenFILE (free environmental database)

Ebsco has recently made GreenFILE free to search. The database focusses on the relationship between humans and the environment, covering topics such as environmental health, global warming, recycling and alternate fuel sources. GreenFILE searches scholarly and general interest journals, as well as government documents and reports and connects the environment with other disciplines such as agriculture, education, law, health and technology. If you search the database and find an article or document you want to read that is not in full-text, please just email or phone your nearest GWAHS Library. Reposted from NCAHS Library Clippings.

Rural and remote public health (Special issue of the Australian Journal of Rural Health V. 16, Iss. 2, April 2008)

Prof. David Lyle and Prof. David Perkins of the Broken Hill Department of Rural Health have co-edited this issue focussing on rural public health. Amongst the papers included are : Addressing the health disadvantages of rural populations ; Impact evaluation of the WellingTonne Challenge; Rural obesity, healthy weight and perceptions of risk ; Health workforce crisis : how to achieve a work-life balance ; and several others.

NSW Farmers' Mental Health Network

The severe, and in many cases, ongoing drought has highlighted a range of problems with the current mental health conditions and services across rural and remote NSW. The emotional stress from the lingering drought is impacting not only farmers, but also their families, communities and even the drought support services themselves. Whilst the drought may have a limited life span, its ramifications such as depression, financial hardship, and loss will continue for many years.
As part of a wider response to this worrying problem, NSW Farmers Association,brought together a group of key stakeholders in the area of rural mental health, to discuss how best to work together to address rural and remote mental health issues. This forum, held in June 2005, resulted in the creation of a formal Rural Mental Health Network and a NSW Farmers Blueprint for Maintaining the Mental Health and Wellbeing of the People on NSW Farms (please click here for a pdf/printable version). The Blueprint is a simplified summary of key issues that need to be addressed.

South Australia: Our Health and Health Services

South Australia: Our Health and Health Services 2008 provides a comprehensive picture of the health status of South Australians. The report uses population health information and an extensive array of other health and demographic data to portray the dkecurrent state of health and to illustrate how risk factors associated with lifestyle choices, socioeconomic circumstances and environmental conditions can lead to ill health. The report also contains information on the health services and facilities that serve the people of South Australia and the initiatives that will lead to improvements in health and wellbeing.

Women's sexual and reproductive health: A literature review Karolyne Quinn and Jenny Ejlak / Women's Health Victoria

This review looks at women's sexual health and sexuality as dynamic and changing throughout life. It identifies some of the social aspects of sexual health and sexuality that impact on and influence women and men's behaviours. Addressing these social determinants can decrease risk behaviour and increase health benefits for all women.

Climate change sparks regional mental health fears

This article describes the effect of climate change on the mental health of regional and rural communities. There are indications that the effects of the drought on farming communities could see it as a major cause of mental health problems.

Farmers depressed by big dry: report

According to this report Australia's farmers are both poorer and more depressed as a result of the drought. This has included factors such as financial hardship & climate change and it's effect on family wellbeing.

Essentials of social justice : what comes after "Sorry!"

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, will deliver 6 public speeches on the agenda for change in Indigenous Affairs. The six speeches are : "Sorry", "Reform", "Protecting indigenous children ", "Close the gap", "Land and Culture", and "The future". Text of the first five is available. The last will be added when it is delivered. Audio and other materials are also available.

New program supports mental illness

A new program has been developed in the Central West region to help those suffering from mental illness.

Drought linked to indigenous health

A forum held at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at Bloomfield Hospital Orange, discussed the way drought affects the mental health of indigenous people. Key mental health issues were raised as well as strategies.

National Primary Health Care Partnership

19 national peak health organisations representing over 100,000 frontline health professionals working in the primary health care sector have come together to form the National Primary Health Care Partnership (NPHCP).
The NPHCP is working towards a primary health care system that works for the people who need and use it. It calls on the Australian Government to develop and implement a National Primary Health Care Policy, providing coordinated, evidence based, safe primary health care services delivered by multidisciplinary health care teams and accessable by all Australians irrespective of geographic, social, economic or cultural background in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Alma-Ata.

Clinical Practice Guidelines

Readers looking for Practice Guidelines on a particular procedure have many good and authoritative databases you can search to find them. If you're looking for a one-stop shop, however, you could try the National Library of Guidelines site, which is produced by the NHS in the UK. You can search all the NHS guidelines here and they also provide great links to International Guidelines sites, such as the US National Guidelines Clearinghouse and our own NHMRC Guidelines. There's an absolute plethora of best practice in all these Guidelines -take a good look.

Office of Rural Health

The Federal Government has today announced the creation of an Office of Rural Health
Press release.

Rural Doctor's Association response

Key Drivers of Demand in the Emergency Department: A Hypothesis Driven Approach to Analyse Demand and Supply

Booz Allen Hamilton, NSW Health, December 2007
The main finding of this review was that growth in Emergency Department services in NSW was generally consistent with that experienced in other states and that all states concluded that the reasons for increases were multi-factorial. The report contended that reasons for growth included issues such as the ageing population, GP access & practice issues, increased patient awareness of conditions that require immediate medical attention, of faster access to ED and ability to obtain all clinical and diagnostic services at a single location.

Obesity : should there be a law against it ?

Australian and New Zealand Health Policy is a free online journal which publishes articles on all aspects of health policy, but also produces symposium issues. The latest of these is the provocative Obesity : should there be a law against it?

The State of Our Public Hospitals, June 2008 Report

This report provides a snapshot of public hospital activity in 2006-07. It includes a focus on Indigenous Australians in hospitals and includes a feature chapter titled State and Territory Public Hospital Performance Reporting.

Understanding Younger Onset Dementia

Understanding Younger Onset Dementia is a practice- and evidence-based booklet summarising the neuropathology and characteristics of the different dementias occurring in younger adults under 65 years of age. This booklet provides information of assistance to health professionals and others on the different types of dementia diagnosed in younger people and explains many of the characteristics of the associated changes that occur with younger onset dementias.

Mental health services in Australia: interim report (Senate Community Affairs Committee )

The committee was directed to examine ongoing efforts towards improving mental health services in Australia, with reference to the National Action Plan on Mental Health agreed upon at the July 2006 meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, particularly examining the
commitments and contributions of the different levels of government with regard to their respective roles and responsibilities. The Committee was asked to give special consideration to:

(a) the extent to which the action plan assists in achieving the aims and objectives of the National Mental Health Strategy;
(b) the overall contribution of the action plan to the development of a coordinated infrastructure to support community-based care;
(c) progress towards implementing the recommendations of the Select Committee on Mental Health, as outlined in its report "A national approach to mental health from crisis to community";
(d) identifying any possible remaining gaps or shortfalls in funding and in the range of services available for people with a mental illness.

This report outlines the committee's work to date and provides a broad summary of the themes arising in the evidence received.

Tobacco and Aboriginal people in NSW ( Rowena G. Ivers / New South Wales Public Health Bulletin )

Tobacco use is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for Aboriginal people in NSW. Few interventions to reduce the harm resulting from tobacco use have been developed specifically for this population. However, brief interventions for smoking cessation, pharmacotherapies such as nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion and varenicline, quit groups and interventions aimed at reducing smoking by pregnant women and hospital inpatients are likely to be effective. Broader population interventions such as anti-tobacco advertising, price rises for tobacco products and prevention of sales to minors are also likely to be effective in reducing the harm resulting from tobacco use.

Australia's future fat bomb (Baker Heart Research Institute)

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has described new statistics about obese Australians as staggering and alarming and has asked for urgent advice on how to combat the problem. "I think it will be a shock to a lot of people that we are rated as a fatter nation than America," she said. "The Baker Heart Institute's report, Australia's Future 'Fat Bomb', found Australia may soon overtake America as the fattest nation on earth, with one in four adults classed as obese."

1997-2007 Report on adults 45 years and over from the New South Wales Population Health Survey

This report provides the first ever snapshot of the health and wellbeing of adults 45 years and over in New South Wales. The report supports planning, implementation, and evaluation of health services and programs targeting this significant population group.