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.