Depression found in 15% of preschoolers

Almost 15 per cent of preschoolers have abnormally high levels of depression and anxiety, and a difficult temperament at five months of age is the most important early warning sign, a study has found.

Checks sought on use of forcible restraint

PEOPLE with mental illnesses are forcibly restrained and secluded 33 times a day across Australia, despite the risk of trauma and human rights abuses from the practice.
A position paper from consumers and their carers, to be launched this week, reports on the use of medication to sedate difficult patients, of padded rooms to isolate them and threats and emotional pressure to ensure compliance, with almost 12,000 episodes of seclusion recorded a year.

Mental health services in Australia 2006-07 (AIHW)

Mental health services in Australia 2006-07 is the 11th in the series of AIHW comprehensive annual reports on the characteristics and activity of Australia's mental health services, and the availability of mental health resources. Details from a wide range of data sources for the 2006-07 period, and where available 2007-08, are presented, as are changes over time.

Expenditure on state and territory mental health services increased by an annual average of 5.6% (adjusted for inflation) between 2002-03 and 2006-07, to $3,040 million. In 2007-08 there were 20 million mental health-related prescriptions subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (and for veterans), accounting for just over one in ten of all prescription claims, costing over $700 million.

Media release

'Expert guided' health search service

Named in PC Magazine's Top Ten websites of 2008 Organised Wisdom is a good example of Health 2.0 progress on the web.
The site assembles a team of health advocates guided by physicians and health professionals who search for results on popular health terms.
The site displays the top ten online resources, including MEDLINE on more than 100,000 topics, updated regularly, without clutter , redundant links or spam.

Insulin-treated diabetes in Australia 2000 - 2007 (AIHW)

Insulin-treated diabetes in Australia 2000-2007 presents the latest available data from Australia's National Diabetes Register (NDR). The incidence of Type 1 and other insulin-treated diabetes in Australia is increasing and people with insulin-treated diabetes have significantly higher death rates than other Australians. This report can be used to understand the changing patterns of insulin-treated diabetes, who the disease affects and where people with insulin-treated diabetes reside.

Media release

High cholesterol may raise risk of Alzheimer's

A four-decade study of 9,844 men and women found that those who had cholesterol levels of six in their early forties were 66% more likely to have Alzheimer's disease when they reach their sixties, seventies and eighties.
Even borderline cholesterol levels of 5.1 in midlife raised the risk of late-life dementia by 52%.
The senior author Dr Rachel Whitmer said 'what is good for the heart is good for the mind .
SOLOMON, A. ... [et al] 'Midlife serum cholesterol and increased risk of Alzeimer's and vascular dementia three decades later ' Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders vol. 28 Aug 2009 p. 75-80.

Indigenous peoples' experiences of and responses to domestic and family violence

In Australia, the rate and severity of domestic and family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is recognised critical challenge by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Such violence plays a significant role in the morbidity and mortality of Indigenous people. Women bear the brunt of the violence, with Indigenous women 35 times more likely to suffer family violence and sustain serious injuring requiring hospitalisation, and 10 times more likely to die due to family violence, than non-Indigenous women.

The causes of domestic and family violence in Indigenous communities are complex. The violence is situated in a context of colonisation and dispossession, marginalisation, entrenched poverty and racism. The separation of Indigenous children from their families over generations and the translocation of groups of Indigenous people from their traditional lands is widely acknowledged as leading to a breakdown of community kinship systems, family relationships and Aboriginal law. In some communities, high levels of alcohol and drug use contribute to the severity of violence experienced. In rural and remote regions, the limited access to police and other services also poses challenges to help seeking and response.

In rising to meet these challenges, many Indigenous communities have developed their own responses to family violence, which include educational initiatives and men’s programs, as well as moves to incorporate principles of customary law into the justice system. Community-led approaches are critical to promoting safety in Indigenous families and communities.


Award Winning Greater Western AHS Libraries Combined Catalogue

At the 2009 Greater Western Health Awards Expo on 28 July in Dubbo the Greater Western AHS Libraries' combined catalogue project won a Judges' Award!

The aim of the project was to enable desktop access to the combined resources of the 5 libraries by all health professionals in Greater Western AHS, irrespective of their location.

"In 2008 Greater Western AHS Libraries partnered to implement an Internet based combined catalogue incorporating the holdings of all Greater Western AHS Libraries into a single searchable database.
The Catalogue uses the open access web software, KOHA, with hosting and maintenance performed by Prosentient Systems.
This use of Web 2.0 software reduced the overall costs of the five library management systems that were currently employed by the Area’s Libraries, while providing one point of access to all libraries’ holdings."


Which journal to submit your article to? Ask Jane

"Have you recently written a paper, but you're not sure to which journal you should submit it? Or maybe you want to find relevant articles to cite in your paper? Or are you an editor, and do you need to find reviewers for a particular paper? Jane can help!

Just enter the title and/or abstract of the paper in the box, and click on 'Find journals', 'Find authors' or 'Find Articles'. Jane will then compare your document to millions of documents in Medline to find the best matching journals, authors or articles. Instead of using a title or abstract, you can also search using a keyword search, similar to popular web search engines."

Jane is maintained by The Biosemantics Group and is funded by the Netherlands Bioinformatics Center.

RFDS : Royal Flying Doctor Service (the TV series!)

"RFDS" -- the television series, soars back to the screen on pay TV on the Bio channel on Sundays at 6 p.m. (5.30 CST). The many people in GWAHS who deal with the Royal Flying Doctor Service would find this 10 part series both action-packed and informative. Based on the activities of the RFDS bases in Broken Hill and Dubbo, the series follows patients, staff and students in the day-to-day business of bringing medicine to the outback.

See GWAHS from the air ... it has never looked better !

Indigenous health research ethics (Website)

The CRCAH and the Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit at The University of Melbourne recently launched a new website on Indigenous health research ethics for researchers, students, health professionals, and the wider community. The one-stop-shop website enables the user to learn more about human research ethics committees in Australia, with particular reference to those committees which have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander members. Users can now easily find and contact relevant national and state committees, access their guidelines on ethical research, and search for the latest research on Indigenous health research ethics.

As the Indigenous Health Ethics Network website points out, "For too long, Indigenous peoples throughout Australia (and worldwide) have been researched about, without being consulted or involved in the research".

All the ethics committees listed on the website are registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and the website is updated regularly for new content. Visitors to the website can:
* Find their committee of interest by State or nationally, and find whether it includes Indigenous members.
*Access the library of documents relating to human research ethics .
*Tell the website of new documents and websites of potential interest to other researchers relating to Indigenous health ethics.

highsnlows : Cannabis and mental health (Website)

The Australian Drug Foundation, Orygen Youth Health and the Department of Human Services Victoria have collaborated to launch highsnlows, a campaign and website on cannabis and mental health.

Fact sheets, videos, and personal stories are available, and the site is interactive encouraging user comments.

Attracting and keeping nursing professionals in an environment of chronic labour shortage

There is a global shortage of nursing professionals. It is particularly acute in remote places like the Northern Territory. This report by Stephen Garne of the School for Social and Policy Research looks at the demographic profile of the Territory's nurses and midwives, how that has changed in the last few decades and explores prospects for the future.

The report also explores why nursing professionals come to the Northern Territory, why they stay and why some leave. The drivers of international migration are investigated as well as some of the costs of nursing turnover to the Territory economy. Twenty recommendations are made to improve retention rates.

Factors affecting crime rates in Indigenous communities in NSW (Menindee & Wilcannia)

There are notable differences in the Local Court data on crime rates between different Aboriginal communities in NSW. Despite this, there has been a lack of qualitative research on the factors affecting crime rates in Aboriginal communities. With support from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, this pilot study by Ruth McCausland, Alison Vivian Jumbunna of the Indigenous House of Learning, set out to look at two towns with significant Aboriginal communities that are comparable in terms of geography, population and context, but with higher or lower crime rates. The aim of our study was to identify common themes and factors that may be considered to have an impact on crime rates being higher in Wilcannia and lower in Menindee.

This Community Report outlines the findings of interviews undertaken in Wilcannia and Menindee with a range of community and organisational representatives and others working in relevant criminal justice and service delivery roles, as a way to better understand the dynamics and experiences of the communities as a whole.

Blood lead levels for Australians (NHMRC)

The National Health and Medical Research Council has released a new public statement on blood lead levels, with practical ways to help keep children safe from lead exposure.

The NHMRC 2009 Blood Lead Levels for Australians public statement and in-depth information for practioners and policy makers recommends:

* all Australians should have a blood lead level below 10 ug/dL (micrograms per decilitre - 100ml)

* children's exposure to lead should be minimised,

* women should minimise exposure to lead before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

"Children are more sensitive to the health effects of lead exposure than adults, as they absorb more lead into their bloodstreams and retain more lead in their bodies", said Professor Warwick Anderson, NHMRC CEO. "Childhood lead exposure is linked to developmental, emotional and behavioural problems. It is essential that children's lead exposure be minimised, in home renovations, in households where adults work with lead and in lead-exposed environments, near mines or smelters. Simple measures such as testing old paint for lead using a kit from hardware stores, covering exposed lead paint with fresh paint and keeping children out of the way when removing lead paint reduces the potential risks from home renovations. Keeping lead out of the family home by showering and leaving personal items at work, and washing lead-exposed clothes separate from the family wash cuts risks for families of workers who work in lead smelters or mines, as well as industries that use even small amounts of lead."

The recommendation of blood lead levels below 10ug/dL is in line with the NHMRC's 2004 advice as well as US and World Health Organization standards.

Estimating the impact of selected National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) reforms on health care expenditure, 2003 to 2033 (AIHW)

To give an indication of the medium- to long-term effects of certain proposed National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) reforms on growth in health expenditures, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare developed estimates of the expenditure effects of selected reform proposals.

Indigenous housing indicators 2007-08

In 2007-08, there were over 36,000 dwellings specifically targeted to providing housing assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - an increase of almost 1,000 dwellings since 2005-06. A further 58,000 Indigenous households were receiving assistance through mainstream housing programs in the same period. Indigenous housing indicators 2007-08 provides current national data across all housing assistance programs on a range of key Indigenous housing indicators including connection to services, dwelling condition, overcrowding, affordability of housing, rents collected and charged, and recurrent and capital expenditure on Indigenous housing.

Authored by AIHW.

Indigenous housing series no. 3

Rare Coroners' records put online

The State Records Authority has unveiled an updated online version of its Index to Coroners’ Inquests between 1796 and 1824.

The 809 reports included in the Index include Coroners’ Inquests held throughout the colony of NSW and Van Diemen’s Land. In the majority of cases, the deaths were found to be caused by drowning, apoplexy or a ‘Visitation of God’. The reports also documented occasional murders such as thieves killed while committing robberies and spearings by Aboriginal people, with the latter particularly evident around the Bathurst area.

The Index includes records of the Inquest number, name, date, location, item number, page number and Reel number. It also includes a remarks column, which states whether the person identified is the deceased or appeared as a witness in the Inquest.

The State Records Authority has access to the records in its reading rooms, via microfilm Reels 2232 and 2233. The Reel are also included in the Archives Resources Kit which is located at various sites around the State.

The Authority has urged users of the Index to provide feedback and suggestions by completing an online feedback form, available from

The Index to Report of Inquests, 1796 to 1824 was originally compiled by staff from the former Archives Office of NSW. The updated online version was prepared with help from Malcolm Sainty from the Biographical Database of Australia.

Extend drug rehabilitation to alcohol: report

THE Auditor-General has added to pressure on the State Government to extend the court system's largest drug rehabilitation program to people charged with alcohol-related crime.

Expansion would also have a positive impact on record indigenous imprisonment rates, Peter Achterstraat said in a report on the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program, known as MERIT.

Working with Aboriginal leaders to tackle child abuse and neglect (media release)

The NSW Government will today hold a forum in Sydney with Aboriginal community leaders on how best to tackle child abuse and neglect in Aboriginal communities as part of Keep Them Safe: A Shared Approach to Child Wellbeing, the Government’s action plan to reform the child protection system in NSW.

Minister for Community Services Linda Burney, said the Government is committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal communities to strengthen families and protect children from abuse and neglect.

Health and Hospitals Reform Commission - interactive yourHealth website

In response to the release of the Health and Hospitals Reform Commission final report - A healthier future for all Australians, the Department has set up a new website -- to further inform the public and key stakeholders and to seek feedback and comment on the report and the consultation process. Specialised fact sheets are available.

Why public hospitals are overcrowded.

Dr Jeremy Sammut, of the Centre for Independent Studies, argued that increasing government funding to increase the number of public hospital beds by 15 per cent is a one-off solution that will not solve the issue. Instead, the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, which has made 123 recommendations to improve the nation's health system, should have focused on cutting bureaucracy. Dr Sammut is the author of a recent report, Why public hospitals are overcrowded which finds that Australia's public hospital beds rate of 2.5 per 1000 people is well below the OECD average of four beds.