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.