Government response to the Garling Report and Caring Together : health action plan for NSW

Two important releases which will have a huge effect on the future of NSW health policy.

Government Response to Recommendations sets out the Government's response to each recommendation from the Garling Inquiry and seeks to engage the community and our health workforce in a new way forward that, more than ever, centres on the needs of patients.

Caring Together: The Health Action Plan for NSW is the first stage of the NSW Government's response to the Garling Inquiry's findings and recommendations. It includes measures that will be put in place immediately to help improve not just clinical care, but the environment in which that care is delivered, and the compassion and sensitivity with which it is delivered.

Physical Activity Recommendations for Older Australians

For the first time, the Australian Government has developed physical activity recommendations specifically for older Australians. Choose Health: Be Active, a new booklet produced by the Australian Government will help older Australians improve their health and well-being. The free booklet outlines a variety of ways to include appropriate forms of physical activity into everyday life. For many older Australians, particularly those with poor health, remaining physically active could be a challenge, but this booklet provides solutions. Choose Health: Be Active is designed to help older people choose the types of activity that best suit them no matter how old, able or active. The booklet has sections on strength and balance exercises that can be integrated into everyday living, and gives practical advice on coping with health problems and overcoming setbacks.

Anyone interested in running programs based on the guidelines may also find a National Ageing Research Institute report, National physical activity recommendations for older Australians. Discussion document of interest.

Supporting Indigenous Researchers : a practical guide for supervisors

Alison Laycock, well known to many GWAHS staff for her involvement with the Alcohol Handbook for Frontline Workers, has produced this excellent 196 p. handbook for the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health. The aim of the handbook is to provide practical ways of improving the capacity of indigenous health researchers to identify, design, implement and conduct high quality health research.

A companion volume Researching Indigenous Health : a practical guide for researchers is currently in production.

Climate change in Australia: risks to human wellbeing and health Anthony McMichael / Nautilus Institute

Anthony McMichael of the Australian National University writes that "climate change belongs to a wider range of human-induced global environmental changes that are now assuming great and urgent importance. Collectively, these changes signify that human pressures are weakening and endangering the planets life support systems. Climate change will have many, and diverse, effects on human biological processes, risks of injury, and hence on health." He discusses the adverse health impacts of climate change on those most likely to bear the greatest burden: low-income, poorly-resourced and geographically vulnerable populations. The range of adaptive strategies is very wide, with options at all levels from national and international through to household and individual levels. They include, for example, early-warning systems for heat-waves, community alerts for fragile older persons, better surveillance systems for the detection of shifts in infectious disease patterns, strengthened physical barriers against weather disasters, enhanced disaster response preparedness, and food supplementation systems.

Beyond closing the gap: valuing diversity in Indigenous Australia Jon Altman / Centre for Public Policy

In his Apology speech the Prime Minister attempted to balance the symbolic with the practical while emphasising that business as usual is not working. Ultimately though, the 'Closing the Gap' approach is business as usual that fails to value Indigenous difference and fails to accommodate Indigenous aspirations in all their diversity. Unless we get beyond CTG, the next phase in Indigenous policy making and program investments is as destined to fail as previous approaches.

This paper advocates for the pendulum to swing back, to accommodate and value diversity and difference rather than just statistical equality. In doing so, the author provides some reflexive comment as an academic on these policy swings.

Grasping the opportunity of Opal: assessing the impact of the Petrol Sniffing Strategy (Senate Community Affairs Committee)

This report reviews initiatives since 2006 to combat petrol sniffing in remote communities and makes a series of recommendations for further action. This is a follow-up to the committee's 2006 report, Petrol Sniffing in Remote Aboriginal Communities.

New Aboriginal services for Northern NSW (media release)

Minister for Community Services Linda Burney said the Department of Community Services is inviting non-profit community organisations and government agencies to submit Expressions of Interest to operate a service helping homeless Aboriginal people, and to provide preschool services and after-school and school-holiday activities.

"Helping Hands will help stop Aboriginal people falling into the vicious cycle of homelessness, by supporting clients to find stable accommodation and providing financial counselling as well as employment and training opportunities."

Free first aid program for our mental health

Bathurst will be offering a Mental Health First Aid course later this week. The free training program, called Mental Health First Aid, recognises the valuable role that the community plays in supporting a person who is experiencing mental health issues.

Dementia Education Online

Would you like to develop contemporary knowledge and skills related to the care of people living with dementia? If so, you will be interested in a new set of freely available and fully online dementia education resources designed by leading academics who are experts in dementia care and members of the Eastern Australia Dementia Training and Study Centre (EADTSC). These resources are designed to provide students and staff studying or working in multi-disciplinary areas of health with a flexible opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills in working with people who have dementia and their family carers.

Victorian health website scoops Australia-wide award

The Better Health Channel, a consumer health site that has been run by the Victorian Government for the past ten years, has outclassed several major commercial health websites to win the number 1 position as the most visited health and medical information website in Australia. The 2008 Hitwise Online Performance Awards, announced in Sydney today, recognise excellence in online performance through public popularity by measuring the number of visits to individual websites in each industry category. The Better Health Channel has proved so popular with consumers that there were over 10 million visits to the site in 2008.

Researchers find new cannabis syndrome

The following study discusses the existence of a new syndrome afflicting heavy cannabis users, after the world's first cases were found in South Australia. The condition "cannabinoid hyperemesis" was first identified in a group of about 20 heavy drug users in the Adelaide hills in 2004.

$3.6 million to help Western NSW children in care (media release)

A $3.6 million funding package to assist Western NSW children in out-of-home care has been announced by Community Services Minister Linda Burney.

"The State Government will provide $3.6 million over the next three years to Mallee Family Care for their work with children and young people living in Western NSW, particularly Aboriginal children," Ms Burney said. "This funding will create 16 general foster care placements and 16 relative kinship care placements for the area’s most vulnerable children and young people.

Special report: Suzanne Smith investigates Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

This report from ABC Lateline describes "Foetal Alcohol Syndrome" which is affecting the Indigenous community of Halls Ck in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The report on Halls Creek raises disturbing questions about the alarming rates of FAS in that community.Halls Creek is also the focus of a major campaign to introduce the toughest alcohol restrictions in the country.

Aboriginal Health

The International Group for Indigenous Health Measurement report published by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare on 20th March 2009 focuses on reducing the disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous populations when high quality data isn't available .
The 70 page report is downloadable for free

Australian Guidelines for the assessment of absolute cardiovascular disease risk

The NHMRC has just approved the first Australian Guidelines for the assessment of absolute cardiovascular disease risk. These guidelines "reflect a person’s ‘individualised’ risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), as opposed to the traditional method that considers various risk factors, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, inisolation."

The guidelines are aimed at general practitioners, Indigenous health workers and other primary health care professionals to assist them in assessing the absolute risk of cardiovascular disease in adults without known cardiovascular disease.

Also available are a useful quick reference guide, risk charts and a risk calculator, as well as some useful patient fact sheets.

Reposted from NCAHS Library Clippings

1800 mum 2 mum delivers free breastfeeding advice, mum to mum

Australia's first 24-hour toll-free helpline for breastfeeding mothers will be officially launched this Friday.

1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 2 686) is run by the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) and utilises the real-life experience of over 200 trained volunteer counsellors each week who help other mums with issues including the early days with a new baby, expressing and storing milk,weaning, supply and what to do when baby simply says no.

The 1800 mum 2 mum number replaces 13 different numbers that operated in different states, with different levels of service.

Women's health information package: Victorian bushfires - disaster situations

Research shows that gender inequalities exist in disaster and emergency situations. While there are significant differences between women in different social locations, women as a whole are more likely than men at the time of an extreme environmental event to:

* live below the poverty line
* rely upon state supported social services
* lack savings, credit, insurance
* lack inheritance rights, land rights, control
* be unemployed or work in the informal economy
* be self-employed, home-based, contingent workers
* reside alone, be rearing children alone
* depend on functioning caregiving systems
* depend on public transportation, travel with dependents
* reside in public housing, mobile homes, rental housing, informal settlements
* live at risk of assault and abuse, be displaced into domestic violence shelters
* be responsible for others (family, kin, neighbors) as paid and unpaid caregivers
* physically depend on others due to late pregnancy, recent childbirth, age, chronic illness
* be living with disabilities, chronic illness
* be subject to gender norms controlling mobility and use of public space
* be subject to male authority in the household regarding use of emergency assistance assets and key decisions about evacuation and relocation

This document by Karolyne Quinn of Women's Health Victoria provides resources on gender research as it applies to disasters and it also supplies resources and links to web pages for disaster prevention information that focuses on gender. The inclusion of this information is aimed at raising awareness about inequality and the gendered nature of disaster experience. It is hoped that this information will help to facilitate equality in the recovery and reconstruction process, and that it may be used and built upon for future learning and emergency management purposes.

"You're a Dad " 7 storylines about being a Dad

"You're A Dad" a 20 page A5 full colour booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers and young men.

Craig Hammond (Family Action Centre Newcastle) introduces the booklet saying: "I'm proud to be a Dad. I've found out that us, as fathers, we can make choices and we can make changes. To me, this book is all about hearing and feeling the happiness and hurt and stories from other Aboriginal and Torres Strait fathers. Just to know that our brothers are all feeling the same in a lot of ways. It's also about acknowledging us as fathers and the important role that we do play in our children's lives. The final message is the simple thing : just talk with your kids and talk with other blokes about your kids."

International Centre for Human Resources in Nursing

The International Centre for Human Resources in Nursing website addresses one of the more pressing issues in healthcare worldwide: the nursing workforce. The website addresses the shortage of nurses, the underemployment of nurses and the migration of nurses, as well as the challenges of nursing education availability and poor workforce planning. Visitors can click on "Knowledge Library" at the top of the page to download many of their publications. The library can be browsed by subject or searched by keyword.

Free DVDs on post-traumatic stress disorder (Rural Health Education Foundation)

904p Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - This kit includes a complimentary community DVD Recovery from Trauma: What Works (29 mins).Extra copies of this community DVD can also be ordered (see link below).

To order, ensure you are logged in (online registration is free) , visit the program page, Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, click "add to cart" and complete the order process.

904c Recovery from Trauma: What Works (29 mins). This program is included in 904p (above), but can be ordered on its own, or if you would like additional copies.

If you wish to order Recovery from Trauma: What Works on its own visit the program page Recovery from Trauma: What Works and click "add to cart" and complete the order process.

Program details

Care that puts people first: Responding to the health challenges of today, preparing for those of tomorrow (AGPN position statement)

The Position Statement by the Australian General Practice Network, updates the Network's original 2005 Statement and outlines a vision for Australia's primary health care system and general practice and the Network's place in that system.

The position statement is supported by a research monograph, Primary Health Care Position Statement: a scoping of the evidence, an update for 2009. APHCRI was commissioned by AGPN to investigate recent evidence for primary health care policy in order to inform the development of their 2009 Primary Health Care Position Statement. The report addresses the evidence in the following areas. 1. Access, 2. Integration 3. Chronic disease management 4. General practice teams / networks of health service providers 5. Population health and health promotion 6. Community / consumer participation 7. Workforce 8. Quality and safety 9. Indigenous Health

National mental health policy 2008

The National Mental Health Policy embeds a whole of government approach to mental health. It works towards ensuring that Australia has a mental health system that detects and intervenes early in illness, promotes recovery, and ensures that all Australians with a mental illness have access to effective and appropriate treatment and community supports to enable them to participate in the community fully. It also recognises that certain groups in the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, homeless and disadvantaged people, those exposed to traumatic events, and those with serious or chronic health problems are at heightened risk of mental health problems and mental illness.

Culture and wellbeing: the case of Indigenous Australians

A recurring theme in the debate surrounding Indigenous affairs in Australia is a tension between maintenance of Indigenous culture and the achievement of "equity" in socioeconomic outcomes: essentially "self-determination" versus "assimilation". Implicit in this tension is the view that attachment to traditional culture and lifestyles is a hindrance to the achievement of "mainstream" economic goals. This paper by Michael Dockery of the Centre for Labour Market Research argues the need for a renewed focus on the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, and for empirical evidence on the link between culture and socio-economic wellbeing instead of ideological debate.Using data from National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, a strong attachment to traditional culture is found to enhance outcomes across a range of socioeconomic indicators. This suggests Indigenous culture should be viewed as a potential part of the solution to Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, and not as part of the problem.

Kids with Asthma (Website)

A new interactive, kid-friendly website has been launched by the National Asthma Council Australia to give kids with asthma and their parents the low down on all-things asthma-related, including basic facts, diagnosis, asthma medications, management and FAQs.

Specifically designed to be fun and informative, the site uses simple facts and an interactive asthma-themed Game Zone to appeal to younger patients, backing up the messages with more detailed information on key topics for parents.

Health professionals can register to receive Kids With Asthma seasonal update emails at:

Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol

These NHMRC guidelines aim to establish the evidence base for future policies and community materials on reducing the health risks that arise from drinking alcohol. The guidelines communicate evidence concerning these risks to the Australian community to allow individuals to make informed decisions regarding the amount of alcohol that they choose to drink.

3rd Rural Health Research Colloquium 27th - 29th October 2009

The Organising Committee of the 3rd Rural Health Research Colloquium (RHRC) invites you to participate in this year's event. The Colloquium is an initiative of the Australian Rural Health Research Collaboration and the Institute of Rural Clinical Services and Teaching. It will take place in Ballina on the beautiful NSW North Coast and is being hosted by the North Coast Area Health Service.

The theme for the Colloquium is 'Building a healthier future through research' which will provide a forum for discussing research of relevance to improving rural health and reducing health inequity.
The call for abstracts for this event is now open (Closing date 15 May 2009).

Health and community services labour force 2006 (AIHW)

In 2006, over 9% of Australia's workforce was employed in health and community services occupations - a 26% increase from 2001. Between 2001 and 2006 the health workforce and community services workforce increased by 22.8% and 35.6% respectively. Over the same period, the health and community services workforce aged with the proportion of workers in the 55 to 64 years age bracket increasing by 4 percentage points. This report also contains information on geographical distribution, country of birth and qualifications held.

Press Release

A picture of rheumatoid arthritis in Australia (AIHW)

Rheumatoid arthritis is an often serious joint disease that affects around 400,000 Australians and is the second most common type of arthritis, after osteoarthritis. The disease is more common among females and in older age groups. The underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not well understood but genetic factors play a key role (smoking also increases the risk of developing the disease). The disease reduces a person's capacity to work, with only 31% of those affected in fulltime employment in 2004-05 compared with 53% of the general population. This report provides information on other symptoms, effects and treatments, as well as looking at prevention.

Media release

Hospitalisations due to falls by older people, Australia 2005-06

The number of falls resulting in hospitalisation for older Australians remains high and the rate of fall-related injury incidents is particularly high for the oldest group within this population. Older females accounted for most of the hospitalised fall injury cases and a third of cases had injuries to the hip and thigh. Half of all fall injury cases for people aged 65 years and older occurred in the home. Falls in residential institutions were also common. Age-standardised rates of hospitalised fall-related injury separations have increased over the seven year study period to June 2006, despite a decrease in the rate for femur fractures due to falls. The estimated total length of stay per fall injury case has also increased over the period 1999-2006, apparently influenced by increases in the number of bed-days used by episodes of fall-related follow-up care.
Media release

Healthy People Library Project

The Healthy People Library Project was created "to empower libraries to play an active role in increasing the quality and years of healthy life and eliminating health disparities for all Americans." Part of their work includes the electronic book series "The Science Inside". These books are intended to be used by health educators and members of the general public, and they cover topics like asthma and allergies, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and HIV/AIDS. Booklets and supporting resources may be downloaded. The site also includes a "Profiles of Healthy Living" section, which offers profiles of people who are making choices which encourage healthy living.