Closing the Gap Clearinghouse

The Clearinghouse provides access to a collection of quality evidence-based information on what works to overcome Indigenous disadvantage. This will provide policy makers and program managers with an evidence base for achieving the Closing the Gap targets and related Indigenous reforms. Indigenous Australians will benefit through the delivery of policies and services which address Indigenous disadvantage more effectively.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to targets in the areas of health, education and employment for Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

Early childhood ; Economic participation ; Governance and leadership ; Health ; Healthy homes ; Safe communities ; Schooling

The Clearinghouse contains a large number of links and documents on indigenous issues. An email alert service is also available via free subscription

NSW to improve services for mentally ill

People with a mental illness will have improved access to legal and health services under a project to be launched in NSW, Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says.

The project was developed by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and includes a social work service for young homeless people, an Aboriginal mental health worker for an indigenous men's program, and legal support services for refugees and people from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Preventative health agency can work for the bush (media release)

Establishment of the National Preventive Health Agency has been identified by Council of the NRHA as one of the priorities for practical action to improve health in rural and remote areas. The Alliance wants to see the Agency progressed with urgency so that it can implement specially targeted preventive programs for "at-risk‟ groups, including people in rural and remote communities.

Partnership to xTEND rural depression research

A major new research partnership to be announced at an event today in Newcastle will examine ways to minimise the risk factors for male suicide in rural communities. beyondblue: the national depression initiative and Xstrata Coal are contributing funding to the three year project, known as xTEND: eXtending Treatments, Education and Networks for Depression.

Professor Brian Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle, said the research project would focus on the role of social networks, relationship breakdown and depression as potential risk factors for suicide and develop mitigation strategies.

The Proposed Denticare Scheme - an overview

The Parliamentary Library has released a Background Note providing an outline of the proposed Denticare scheme, including the dental services to be covered, cost estimates and financing arrangements. Responses to the proposal and some key issues for further discussion are highlighted.

Fourth national mental health plan: an agenda for collaborative government action in mental health 2009-2014

On Friday 13 November 2009,the Australian Health Ministers' Conference(AHMC) launched the Fourth National Mental Health Plan: an agenda for collaborative government action in mental health 2009-2014. This plan is the product of twelve months of development work including a comprehensive stakeholder consultation process.

Endorsement of the plan represents commitment by all governments to implementation of the following vision for mental health set out in the National Mental Health Policy 2008:

"a mental health system that enables recovery, that prevents and detects mental illness early and ensures that all Australians with a mental illness can access effective and appropriate treatment and community support to enable them to participate fully in the community."

The plan identifies key actions that will make meaningful progress towards fulfilling the vision of the policy. While led by health ministers the plan takes a whole of government approach through involving sectors other than just health. The plan will provide a basis for governments to advance mental health activities within the various portfolio areas in a more integrated way, recognising that many sections can contribute to better outcomes for people living with mental illness.

The plan has five priority areas for government action in mental health:

* Social inclusion and recovery
* Prevention and early intervention
* Service access, coordination and continuity of care
* Quality improvement and innovation
* Accountability - measuring and reporting progress.

The plan is ambitious in its approach and for the first time includes a robust accountability framework. Each year, governments will report progress on implementation of the plan to the Council of Australian Governments. The plan includes indicators for monitoring change in the way the mental health system is working for people living with mental illness as well as their families and carers. Health ministers have agreed to develop targets and data sources for each of the indicators in the first twelve months of the plan.

Centre for Evidence Based Practice Australasia [CEBPA]

Evidence based practice (EBP) is a core requirement for modern healthcare and it is essential that those involved as practitioners, researchers, teachers, policy-makers and 'consumers' share their knowledge and experience. As well as training in EBP, clinicians also require timely access to evidence based resources. One solution, as proposed by the 'EBP Australia Initiative' was for a 'virtual centre' for both clinicians and consumers that could address these needs - that is, a virtual Centre for Evidence-Based Practice Australasia (CEBPA).

The model of a 'virtual extranet', based upon a Web 2.0 'cloud', or collection of EBP resources, sourced/contributed from across Australia and New Zealand, can function as a working collaboration between clinicians from all disciplines, in community and institutional settings, as well as between academics, teachers, researchers, administrators and consumers, to better inform knowledge and practice.

The content of the CEBPA 'cloud' is based on resources compiled by a wide range of contributors. Key features include :

* ERA (Evidence Repository Australasia): a 'warehouse' for evidence summaries generated within Australasia.
* Clinical ANZwers: a tool to convert evidence summaries into clinical questions & answers.
* Evidence Australasia: a dedicated search engine that searches guidelines and similar sites across Australasia.
* Converge: a communities of practice communications hub, linking clinicians, health policy-makers, academics, researchers and health consumers across Australasia on issues relating to EBP.
* Critical appraisal and clinical audit resources (including AuditMaker, CAT check lists and GateLite)
* an EBM Toolbox
* dynamic EBP news feeds/mashups/alerts
* a dedicated Virtual Learning Centre that can provide online classrooms and the facilities for developing online EBP courses, etc (In development)

Australia's welfare 2009 (AIHW)

Australia's welfare 2009 is the ninth biennial welfare report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. It is the most comprehensive and authoritative source of national information on welfare services in Australia. Topics include children, youth and families; ageing and aged care; disability and disability services; carers and informal care; housing and housing assistance; and homelessness with a special section on social inclusion.

Media release

Bush Support Line 1800 805 391

The Bush Support Line (formerly the Bush Crisis Line) 1800 805 391 is a 24 hour confidential telephone support service for workers, and their families, who work in health related services in remote and isolated situations. It is staffed by qualified psychologists with remote and cross cultural experience, is toll free and available from anywhere in Australia.

The Bush support line is part of a revamped set of Bush Support Services from CRANA which also include

* Stress Management courses and other workshops.
* Publications, including self care booklets.
* Best Practice Guidelines to support practitioners following job related trauma.

Livewire Parents : parent and carer support service

Livewire has launched an online community to support parents and carers of people living with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability. Livewire, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Starlight Children's Foundation, has launched Livewire Parents, a new online community, where parents and carers of someone with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability can connect with one another in a supportive and understanding environment.

Livewire Parents is a place for parents and carers to meet, share experiences with people who understand what they are going through, find relevant information and gain support from one another. There are approximately 500,000 parents and primary carers of people with a serious illness, chronic health condition or disability. Many parents and carers struggle to cope and suffer a huge emotional burden and physical and financial stress. As a result, parents and carers have the lowest health and wellbeing of any group in society.

Australian Financial Crisis: Implications for Health & Research

One in four Australian adults has taken an action that puts their health at risk as a result of the global financial crisis (GFC), according to a new MBF Healthwatch poll. The results show that lack of job security was particularly hard on families, with almost one in five parents turning up to work ill and close to one in 10 parents sending sick children to school.

Dr Christine Bennett, Chief Medical Officer of Bupa Australia, warns that short-term, risky health actions taken by individuals in an attempt to save money or prove job dedication are likely to have long term negative health outcomes for Australia. "The poll has revealed that during the past six months, more than two million workers have gone to work ill because they have been concerned about taking a sick day, and a worrying 17 per cent of Australians have avoided or delayed a visit to a GP, dentist or a specialist", Dr Bennett said.

The results reinforce the findings of Research Australia's report, Australian Financial Crisis: Implications for Health & Research , which highlights that the fall-out from the GFC goes beyond economics and has major long-term health implications for Australia.

Connecting with carers is everybody's business : a training resource for family friendly mental health services

Connecting with carers is everyobdy's business: a training resource for family friendly mental health services was developed in 2007 with funding from the NSW Mental Health & Drug & Alcohol Office and support from South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Health Service

Comprising a handbook and DVD, the resource was developed to meet the expressed needs of mental health staff across NSW and demonstrates best practice in connecting and working collaboratively with carers and families of adults with mental illness in public mental health services. The resource :

* Follows a "mock" family on their journey through a public mental health service over a 2 year period - hear "behind the scenes " comments from family members and health professionals
* Provides the theory and the practice on how to build partnerships with carers and families in mental health
* Is rich in content and easy to use - scenario based resource with training tips. Facilitators can tailor sessions by mixing and matching different sections contained in the resource
* Includes a full interview with a real carer of someone with severe mental illness
* Can be easily adapted for use with students (doctors, nurses, allied health)

A limited number of copies of the resource have been made available to educational institutions and health libraries. If you would like to obtain a hardcopy for your library or organization contact the Working With Families Statewide Training Co-ordinator by emailing Kathleen Hossack with your details (ph 9540 7800). Offer ends Dec 31st 2009. The Connecting With Carers Handbook and DVD are currently being uploaded onto the NSW Health Internet(Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol page).

Government responds to "Who cares ? - better support for Carers" report

The federal government's response to the House of Representatives
Family and Community Committee Report on the inquiry Who cares ? : better support for carers tabled on 25 May has been released.

The Health of Indigenous Males: Building Capacity, Securing the Future (AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2009 )

The eighth AMA Indigenous Health Report Card The Health of Indigenous Males: Building Capacity, Securing the Future was launched in Darwin today by the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, and AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce.

Dr Pesce said the Report Card this year highlights the tragic state of health for Indigenous males in Australia today, and proposes solutions that will ensure longer and better quality lives.

"Indigenous males are much more likely to die earlier from preventable causes than non-Indigenous males and Indigenous females," Dr Pesce said. "At every age, from boyhood to manhood Indigenous males experience higher rates of diseases and conditions that are totally preventable."

The AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2009 collates the tragic facts of the health of Indigenous males, including:

* An Indigenous boy born during 2005-2007 can expect to die at age 67, nearly six years earlier than an Indigenous girl, and 11.5 years earlier than a non-Indigenous boy born in the same period;

* Between 2005 and 2007, Indigenous boys were 1.4 times more likely to die in the first year of their lives than Indigenous girls, and nearly twice as likely to die as other infants in the general population;

* Between 2005 and 2007, Indigenous men died at higher rates than non-Indigenous men at all ages;

* Cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) was the leading cause of preventable death among Indigenous men, and accounted for 27 per cent of deaths between 2002 and 2005;

* Indigenous men had significantly higher levels of hospitalisation, at a standardised rate of 876 per 1,000 in 2007-08 compared with 358 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous males;

* In 2004-06, Indigenous males were more than twice as likely to be hospitalised for mental health and behavioural disorders than non-Indigenous males;

* In 2002, more than one-quarter of Indigenous males 15 years and over reported that they had been a victim of threatened or actual violence in the previous 12 months; and

* The WA Aboriginal child health survey reported that 12 per cent of Indigenous males aged 12-17 years had thought about ending their lives in the previous 12 months, and four per cent had attempted to do so in this period.

The Tyranny of Distance? Caring in regional and remote areas of Australia

The Tyranny of Distance? Carers in regional and remote areas of Australia is the result of a partnership between Carers Australia and Commonwealth Financial Planning and was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. This important research is the first to examine the geographic spread, age profile and social, health and economic wellbeing of carers in regional and remote Australia. The report presents a detailed view of issues facing carers in these areas of Australia including difficulties in accessing services, the higher rates of disability for carers, the younger age of carers in remote areas and the impact of the drought.

Key findings include

*the largest number of carers in inner regional and outer region were in the most populous states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland
* Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory had the most carers in remote areas
* carers in remote and regional Australia were more likely to be Indigenous - largely as a result of the distinctive geographic distribution of the Indigenous population and the high level of care required for many in that most disadvantaged sector of Australia society
* a higher proportion of the male population in outer regional and remote areas have a disability or long-term illness
* carers in outer regional and remote areas experienced higher rates of disability or a long-term health condition themselves and lower rates of employment than non-carers living in the same areas and carers in major cities
* carers living in all areas of Australia were more likely to be living in a jobless household and to experience more financial hardship.

Learning modules for health researchers

The Canadian Institute of Health Research has produced 3 freely available Knowledge Translation Learning Modules for health researchers. Subjects covered include :
* A guide to researcher and knowledge-user collaboration in health research
* A guide to evidence-informed decision making
* Critical appraisal of intervention studies

Cannabis takes toll on Aborigines

THE serious consequences of long-term cannabis use in indigenous communities are beginning to show, with an alarming surge in the rate of chronic mental health conditions among those who started smoking the drug at an early age.

James Cook University researcher Alan Clough, who has been looking at the issue of indigenous drug use for the past five years, found cannabis use in remote communities was now as high as 70 per cent of people, with almost 90 per cent of users claiming to be addicted.

Pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men to better health outcomes (Conference)

The Grampians, or Gariwerd as it is known to its traditional owners, will play host this week to more than 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males from across Australia. Mibbinbah Limited is holding a five-day training camp from 8 to 13 November that will give its participants an insight into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Worker training.

Jack Bulman, CEO of Mibbinbah, says: "The aim of this camp is to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males the opportunity to see what would be involved in taking up a certificate as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker. If they wish to continue on with training Mibbinbah and its partners will support individuals to become Male Health Workers.

Anxiety Online (Website)

Anxiety Online is an internet-based treatment clinic for people with anxiety problems. It is a world-first initiative of the National eTherapy Centre (NeTC) at Swinburne University of Technology and funded by the Federal Department of Health and Ageing.

Anxiety Online comprises 3 main areas:

1. Information: High quality information and resources are provided to enable you to gain a comprehensive understanding of anxiety generally, and of anxiety disorders specifically.

2. Clinical assessment: Our online psychological assessment program (e-PASS) enables you to complete a comprehensive psychological assessment online. This assessment will provide you with feedback as to the type and severity of your anxiety, and appropriate recommendations for addressing any anxiety problems you may be experiencing.

3. Treatment programs: Comprehensive and effective treatment programs are available for each of the specific anxiety disorders (Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder).

The clinical treatment programs are available in two versions:

Self-help programs for individuals with mild symptoms, offered free of charge, and

Therapist-assisted programs for individuals with moderate to severe symptoms, offered at a low cost. Therapist assistance is in the form of weekly email communication. This form of treatment has been proven more effective than purely self-help programs.

Protocols for the delivery of social and emotional wellbeing and mental health services in Indigenous communities

These guidelines have been written to fill a significant gap in resources available to Primary Health Care and Mental Health services. Inspiration for the document rose from the recognition of the need for a key practical resource and tools to guide training, management and clinical and community practice in Wellbeing and Mental Health to complement the physical health-oriented practice manuals and guidelines. Audits conducted with remote area health services in Far North Queensland demonstrated the need for more support to the Primary Health and Mental Health Care Workforce to gain confidence, ensure continuity and integration of effort, engage families and show accountability in this area of service delivery to assist in meeting National Mental Health Standard.

There has been a major surge in national interest for resources to assist services to embed both social and emotional well being and mental health support into Indigenous primary health care frameworks. The document aims to be responsive and flexible in recognizing needs, translating academic understanding and integrating experience of all those involved. It has attracted attention nationally as it appears to be among the first of its kind as an education and training document as well as a practice guide to primary mental health care pathways. The authors and users anticipate that the protocols will be continually improved allowing new ideas and tools, adjustments for a changing workforce and new opportunities. Authors: Melissa Haswell, Ernest Hunter, Rachael Wargent, Brenda Hall, Ciaran O'Higgins and Roy West.

The health and economic benefits of reducing disease risk factors

"How much is it worth?" is a frequently asked question in the context of preventative health and health promotion. This query can be challenging to answer because preventative health's many benefits cannot always be assessed in mere dollar terms.

This new report tackles this challenge head on. It estimates the "health status", "economic" and "financial" benefits of reducing the prevalence of the six behavioural risk factors that contribute to chronic diseases affecting millions of Australians. These major risk factors concern obesity, alcohol, smoking, exercise, diet and domestic violence. This report has been prepared by staff at Deakin University and the National Stroke Research Institute.

Aboriginal poverty getting worse - Pilger

Since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's formal apology to the stolen generations, Aboriginal poverty has gotten worse, the winner of the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize says.

Mr Pilger said the apology was well received by Australia's Aboriginal communities, however Aboriginal poverty had since become worse, while the Federal Government's program to build houses for Aborigines in the Northern Territory was "a grim joke".

Researcher reveals 'different' rural depression

This article describes new research which has highlighted unique aspects of depression being experienced by men living in rural and remote areas.

The Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Community Care

The Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for Community Care became law on 1 October 2009.

The Charter applies to people in receipt of Australian Government funded packages legislated under the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act):

Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs);

Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH); and

Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia (EACHD) packages.

Hard copies of the Charter may be ordered from National Mailing and Marketing on 02 6269 1060 and via email.

Putting health in local hands: Shifting governance and funding to regional health organisations. Discussion Paper

The authors of this paper, (Woodruff T, Armstrong F, Legge D, Wilson R. of the Centre for Policy Development) propose the establishment of local Regional Health Organisations (RHOs) across Australia, with each responsible for the health care needs of a defined population within their region. This model proposes that all current health care funding from local, state and federal governments be pooled within a national agency and equitably distributed to RHOs on the basis of evidence about health care needs. Publicly available information on local health needs and health spending (regularly collected and updated in accordance with national standards) would inform decisions by RHOs about the appropriate allocation of services and resources in that region.

Tips and Tricks for New Players: a guide to becoming familiar with the alcohol and other drugs sector

The Alcohol and Other Drug Council of Australia (ADCA) has recently issued a new edition of their guide "Tips and Tricks for New Players: a guide to becoming familiar with the alcohol and other drugs sector".. Aimed at workers new to the drug and alcohol sector, it includes sections on acronyms, a list of organisations in the sector, a guide for novice researchers, research organisations, on-line resources and information on funding sources.

One of a number of resources available on the ADCA site.

Public health expenditure in Australia, 2007-08 (AIHW)

Public health expenditure in Australia 2007-08 is the eighth in a series of annual reports on public health expenditure in Australia produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. In that time expenditure on public health activities by health departments has grown, in real terms, by a total of 77.7%, at an average annual growth rate of 7.4%. In 2007-08 it represented 2.2% of total recurrent expenditure on health-up from around 1.9% in the previous years. In the last year, from 2006-07 to 2007-08, public health expenditure increased by $444.0 million to $2,158.8 million. This was largely due to a substantial increase in spending on organised immunisation activities such as the National Human Papillomavirus vaccination program.

Media release