Public health expenditure in Australia, 2008-09 (AIHW)

Since the first public health expenditure report in 1999-00, expenditure on public health activities by health departments has grown, in real terms, by 88%. Total public health expenditure in Australia 2008-09 was $2,300.2 million. This was an increase of $120.5 million, or 5.5%, on what was spent in 2007-08, raising the 2008-09 per person expenditure to $106. After adjusting for the effects of inflation, there was a real increase in per person expenditure of 2.2% from 2007-08 to 2008-09, continuing the growth in total public health expenditure which has averaged 7.3% per year since 1999-00.

Media release

Early Intervention in Youth Mental Health

Special Issue of Early Intervention in Psychiatry: Early Intervention in Youth Mental Health : Papers from the 1st International Youth Mental Health Conference [Free access until end of April 2011]

While material well-being and physical health have dramatically improved, the mental health of young people in transition from childhood to adulthood has been steadily declining, and this from a low base. One of our failures so far is not to have appreciated that the timing and pattern of mental ill-health impacts so strongly on young people who, on the threshold of adult life, have the most to lose. Editorial

Heads Up! First International Youth Mental Health Conference Wendy McCarthy AO and Chris Tanti

Troubled youth: an island of misery in an ocean of happiness, or the tip of an iceberg of suffering?
Richard Eckersley

What's worrying young Australians and where do they go for advice and support? Policy and practice implications for their well-being Anne Hampshire and Kathryn Di Nicola

Navigating complex lives: a longitudinal, comparative perspective on young people's trajectories
Johanna Wyn and Lesley Andres

Transforming youth mental health services and supports in Ireland Robert J. Illback and Tony Bates

Forming and sustaining partnerships to provide integrated services for young people: an overview based on the headspace Geelong experience Tom Callaly, Kathryn von Treuer, Toni van Hamond and Kelly Windle

Early access and help seeking: practice implications and new initiatives Coralie J. Wilson, John A. Bushnell and Peter Caputi

Promoting youth mental health: priorities for policy from an Australian perspective Debra J. Rickwood

Evaluating population-level interventions for young people's mental health: challenges and opportunities Michael Gifford Sawyer, Nina Borojevic and John Lynch

Young people at ultra high risk for psychosis: a research update Alison R. Yung and Barnaby Nelson

The use of e-health applications for anxiety and depression in young people : challenges and solutions Helen Christensen, Julia Reynolds and Kathleen M. Griffiths

Youth mental health: we know where we are and we can now say where we need to go next Ian B. Hickie

The February 2011 issue of Early intervention in Psychiatry can also be accessed for free

BMJ Open : New open access medical journal

BMJ Open is an online-only, open access general medical journal, dedicated to publishing medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas. The journal publishes all research study types, from study protocols to phase I trials to meta-analyses, including small or potentially low-impact studies. Publishing procedures are built around fully open peer review and continuous publication, publishing research online as soon as the article is ready.

Early articles to be published include :
* Doctors accessing mental health services : an exploratory study
* A randomised controlled trial of cognitive-behavioural therapy for menopausal hot flushes
* Non-operative treatment for acute appendicitis
.... several more

Depression in the bush: beyondblue presents roadmap (media release)

Sessions at the 11th biennial National Rural Health Conference sponsored by beyondblue - the national depression initiative will describe some of the core issues relating to mental health in rural and remote areas.

Experienced presenters from the mental health sector, headed by Dr Nicole Highet, Deputy CEO of beyondblue, will address topics such as perinatal mental health in rural and remote areas; mental health awareness and capacity building; and building resilience in the schools sector.

Retirement funds affected by depression and mental illness (Uni of Sydney research)

Conditions such as depression and mental illness have a significant financial impact on people who retire early due to these conditions, a study led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

Professor of Health Economics, Deborah Schofield, from the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre and Sydney School of Public Health, led a team of researchers from the University of Sydney and University of Canberra which investigated the cost of lost savings and wealth to Australians who retire early because of depression or other mental illness.

New national competency assessment tool for nurses

Newly registered nurses will be better able to "hit the ward running" in the high-pressure environment of the nation's hospitals and care facilities thanks to a recently completed Australian Learning and Teaching Council funded project. The project has developed pilot guidelines that seek to ensure robust and reliable clinically-based learning for pre registration Bachelor of Nursing students, thus better preparing them for nursing registration, and the everyday challenges of work in a busy clinical environment.

Project team leaders Professor Patrick Crookes and Roy Brown, their experiences with people at various levels of health services, as well as with the heads of nursing schools around Australia formed the impetus behind the project. At present there are 39 nursing programs in Australia, each using its own clinical assessment tool and this lack of parity creates the potential for different outcomes for newly registered nurses within and between programs.

The project aimed to address this issue by developing a new nationally agreed competency assessment tool for pre-registration nursing students, ensuring that the needs of both education and clinical service providers are met.

Media release


Project report

Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2011 [WHO]

The Global status report on alcohol and health (2011) presents a comprehensive perspective on the global, regional and country consumption of alcohol, patterns of drinking, health consequences and policy responses in Member States.

Australia's health system needs re-balancing: a report on the shortage of primary care services in rural and remote Australia

Australia's health system needs re-balancing: a report on the shortage of primary care services in rural and remote Australia is the latest position paper by National Rural Health Alliance. This paper complements the AIHW report, Australian health expenditure by remoteness. It summarises the AIHW's report findings, re-interprets some of the conclusions and makes estimates of the geographical distribution of the 44% of recurrent costs not included in the AIHW report. The paper concludes with 10 recommendations to boost primary health care in rural areas.

Australian Government Directory of Services for Older People 2011

The Government Directory of Services for Older People 2011 outlines the many Government services available for older people and their families.

PDF and free printed copies are available. Copies are also available at Centrelink offices.

National Health Reform

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on 13 February 2011, signed a national agreement on health reform. These proposed changes will have an important effect on the delivery of our health services.

National Health Reform Agreement

Summary from the Director General of NSW Health

Health Workforce Australia website

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has launched Health Workforce Australia, a website which will be a central hub to finding information on all things health workforce related in Australia.

HWA is concentrating on developing policy and programs across four main areas : workforce planning, policy and research; clinical education; innovation and reform of the health workforce; and the recruitment and retention of international health professionals. The site includes information on grants and tenders, discussion papers and progress reports on work programs.

The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010 (ABS)

The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010 is the latest comprehensive review of Indigenous health by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

While the overall situation continues to improve, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to have a lower life expectancy than other Australians, and are more likely to suffer high levels of psychological distress. Alcohol and smoking remain major health risk factors, although smoking rates have declined.

This publication has been re-issued, with significant updates in the Disability and Demographic, social and economic status sections

Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, affecting 1.7 million Australians and increasing at epidemic proportions. Diabetes is progressive, places a significant burden of self-management on the individual, and is known to impair quantity and quality of life. Psychological problems (eg. mood and eating disorders) are more common in people with diabetes than the general population and are associated with sub-optimal glycaemic control and the development of long-term complications.

However, the psychological wellbeing of people with diabetes is not routinely assessed, and the psychological aspects of self-management are often unrecognised, leaving many with unmet needs.

The newly established Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes is the result of a partnership for better health between Diabetes Australia, Victoria and Deakin Universit. The Centre provides a national focus and leadership for applied behavioural, psychological and social research in diabetes.

One of the Centre's primary activities in 2011 is the Diabetes-MILES study, a national survey of National Diabetes Services Scheme registrants about the psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes. The results will allow for a better understanding of the motivators, behaviours and psychological needs of Australians with diabetes. This survey is the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Australia.

The Centre's website also provides links to other ongoing diabetes research projects, and links to publications on the behavioural aspects of diabetes.

Alcohol Studies Database

The Alcohol Studies Database contains over 80,000 citations for journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, conference papers, and audio-visual materials.

The site was developed by the Scholarly Communication Center, the Center of Alcohol Studies, and the Rutgers University Libraries. This is a useful cross-disciplinary collection of material on alcohol issues, although Australian coverage appears selective.

Climate and Health Alliance website

The new Climate and Health Alliance website provides evidence and information on the links between climate change and health and the health benefits of climate action. As it develops, the website will provide a current and relevant resource for the health care sector and the wider community on research, evidence and policy issues related to climate change and health.

The World Health Report : Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage (WHO)

This insightful World Health Organisation report addresses the challenges faced by both low and high-income countries on the issue of financing good quality and affordable health care.

As the title of the report suggests, the focus is on reforming the way health is financed on a universal scale and identifies three main barriers to achieving universal coverage of equitable health care.

The first barrier relates to availability of health resources, including the use of new technologies for informing health initiatives, treatments and programs, and the provision of care across all areas of a country.

The second barrier concerns the out-of-pocket costs associated with accessing health care services. The immediate and direct cost to an individual may prevent them from seeking care in the first place, or cause financial hardship to those who do, particularly when a chronic condition is present requiring ongoing costs for consultations, medicines and transport.

The third barrier highlights the inefficient use of resources, which has resulted in 20-40% of health spending being wasted. Examples of this include using expensive drugs in place of cheaper, equally sufficient ones and the over-prescribing of certain medicines.

The report highlights three key ways in which countries can help raise more money for health, recognising the need for solidarity between governments and populations:

* Increase the efficiency of revenue collection - review and improve the way taxes are collected to increase the revenue spent on health.

* Reprioritise government budgets - ensure agreed health allocations are accurately and swiftly apportioned.
* Innovative financing - considering things like raising taxes on alcohol to lower consumption and generate revenue for health; introducing levies on currency transactions and bonds.

It also suggests positive, practical examples of how all countries should be tackling these inequities as well as highlighting those that are already achieving improved health outcomes for their populations.

Young Motherhood and Child Outcomes

There is considerable evidence that childbearing at a young age is associated with poorer outcomes for both mother and child.

Young Motherhood and Child Outcomes is a report by Bruce Bradley from the Social Policy Research Centre using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC. It shows that children aged 4-5 years whose mothers were under 25 when they were born have distinctly lower levels of functioning than those with older mothers and that this disadvantage carries through to education and labour market outcomes. Those born when their mother was in her teens are much less likely to be still in school from 16 to 18 years of age.

However, international research, supported by this study, suggests that children born to young mothers might still have had poor outcomes even if their mother had delayed their childbearing. "It is quite possible that such associations could arise because of the different characteristics of the mothers (and fathers) who have their children when young."

NPS releases "Medicinewise choices" to help Australians be Medicinewise

To help people make the best decisions about their medicines - from what to consider before starting a new medicine to understanding clinical trials - NPS has developed a series of free online learning modules for consumers.

The Medicinewise Choices modules provide information and pointers to help people be actively involved in their treatment decisions. NPS clinical adviser, Dr Danielle Stowasser, says anyone starting a new medicine or who has been taking medicines for a while and wants to know about other options will benefit from the Medicinewise Choices series. A key component of Medicinewise Choices is how to find and assess reliable information sources, particularly online where advice may be driven by commercial interests, out-dated or not supported by evidence.

Media release

How to Create an Attractive and Supportive Working Environment for Health Professionals [WHO]

Recruitment and retention of health professionals is a major challenge the world over. Those contemplating the ideal world in which contented staff queue up to come, work and stay, may find some value in the European view of these problems, as presented in this WHO report.

The work environment plays a critical role in ensuring both the supply of a health workforce and the enhancement, effectiveness and motivation of that workforce.

The purpose of providing attractive and supportive work environments is to create incentives for entering and remaining in the health professions, and to provide conditions that enable health workers to perform effectively(to achieve high-quality health services.

Pathways in Aged Care: program use after assessment (AIHW)

Analysis of care pathways provides information that is useful to both policy planners and service providers alike. The Pathways in Aged Care (PIAC) cohort study linked aged care assessment data for a cohort of 105,100 people to data sets showing use of five main aged care programs and deaths over 4 years. This report presents an overview of the PIAC cohort, investigating care needs, assessment patterns, common care pathways, time to entry to permanent residential aged care and time to death after assessment for use of aged care services.

Media release

10 of the best research projects 2010 (NHMRC)

10 of the Best research projects 2010 celebrates the achievements of our best and brightest medical researchers, highlighting the benefits to all Australians that come from their work. They have produced tangible, life changing results in areas including cancer, mother and baby health, auto-immune diseases, cardiac health and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Reducing alcohol and other drug related harm

High levels of alcohol and other drug use-related harm among Indigenous Australians are both a consequence of, and contribute to, the health and social gap between them and non-Indigenous Australians. This resource sheet summarises current evidence on the issue. Reduction of harmful alcohol and other drug (AOD) use must include broad strategies to address the underlying social factors which predispose towards, or protect against, harmful use; and strategies specifically targeting harmful use itself.

AOD-specific strategies should aim to prevent or minimise the uptake of harmful use; provide safe care for those who are intoxicated; provide treatment for those who are dependent; support those whose harmful AOD use has left them disabled or cognitively impaired; and support those whose lives are affected by harmful AOD use

Closing the Gap Prime Minister's Report 2011

In this third annual report on Closing the Gap, the Government sets out the progress being made towards reaching the targets to:

* Close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2031.
* Halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018.
* Ensure access to early childhood education for all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities by 2013.
* Halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievement for Indigenous children by 2018.
* Halve the gap in Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates for Indigenous young people by 2020.
* Halve the gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2018.

Progress is being made against the Closing the Gap targets. For example, significant improvements have been made in child mortality in recent years, although the gap still remains too large. These improvements are encouraging, but achieving tangible results in all areas will take ongoing investment and time.

Review of Indigenous male health

Indigenous males have been wounded by the numerous impacts since colonisation which devalued Indigenous culture, dispossessed and dislocated Indigenous families and communities and introduced diseases. Indigenous males lost their well-defined, meaningful roles with authority and status, and young males lost their positive, aspirational role models. Initially, Indigenous male authority and knowledge were disenfranchised. This marginalisation is perpetuated in the current situation, where many Indigenous men have been deprived of their provider role. In turn, this diminishes the status, self-esteem and sense of purpose of Indigenous males.

This has profound implications for their health by engendering high levels of alcohol abuse, self-harm and violence. It has inter-generational consequences, bringing dysfunction to family life and providing a model of masculinity with little that is attractive or challenging. As a consequence, there is little incentive for boys to participate in schooling, training and work that prepares them for adult male roles. The cycle of male disenfranchisement, demoralisation and poor health is thus perpetuated.

Substance use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (AIHW)

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the prevalence of substance use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as the use of services for substance abuse. The report deals with three main categories of substance that have major health implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: tobacco smoking, alcohol use and illicit substance use.

Media release

Report on government services 2011

The latest Report on Government Services has just been released. It contains chapters on: Ambulance events, Public hospitals, Maternity services, Primary and community health, Breast cancer detection and management, Mental health, Aged care services, Services for people with disability, Child protection and out-of-home care services, Government services to Indigenous people and Indigenous housing.

The report can be downloaded by chapter only or as 2 volumes. Factsheets for each section are available.

Consensus standards for the care of children and adolescents in Australian health services

These are the first national standards to specifically consider the health care needs of children and adolescents and to address the co-location of children and adolescents with adult patients in health care settings.

The Standards were collaboratively developed under the auspices of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) and are endorsed by the Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare, Children's Hospitals Australasia and the Australian College of Children and Young People's Nurses.

Associated RACP policies on topics such as breastfeeding, circumcision. hyperactivity, vitamin K and several others are also available.