Headline indicators for children's health, development and wellbeing, 2011 (AIHW)

Headline indicators for children's health, development and wellbeing,2011 provides the latest available information on how Australia's children aged 0-12 years are faring according to the Children's Headline Indicators : 19 priority areas covering health status, risk and protective factors, early learning and care, and family and community environments. The Children's Headline Indicators are designed to help guide and evaluate policy development by measuring progress on agreed priority areas for children, and have been endorsed by Ministerial Councils for health, community and disability services, and education.

Australian children are faring well, but results vary between states and territories, and across particular population groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and those in remote or socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. It is clear, therefore, that there is scope for further gains across a number of indicators.

Indigenous children were 2-3 times as likely to be of low birthweight, to die as infants, to die from injury, and to be developmentally vulnerable at school entry.

Children living in remote areas experienced poorer outcomes across many indicators compared to children in major cities. They were 40-50% less likely to meet minimum literacy and numeracy standards, and 30% more likely to be born with low birthweight or to be overweight or obese in childhood. They were also twice as likely to die as infants.

Media release

38 new community projects to tackle Indigenous health challenge

Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, has announced that the Australian Government is funding 38 community-driven projects around the nation to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit smoking, eat healthy, exercise more and better manage their own often chronic health issues. He said that this is a $10 million investment which is responsive to need and culturally appropriate because projects are developed by the local community, for the local community.

The projects include providing fresh fruit and vegetables every day for local communities, promoting traditional health and healing, growing healthy food, encouraging homeless men to gather and cook bush tucker, and putting chronic disease messages to song. Mr Snowdon said the range of projects represents the diversity of views in Aboriginal communities across the country about what is important health-wise. The local Indigenous community campaigns have been funded as part of the Australian Government's new Live Longer! health campaign which is a $21 million social marketing program being delivered over four years and is an integral part of the Australian Government's Indigenous Chronic Disease Package.

The projects include the Get Active Coomealla project, and an extension of services for the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service.

Press release

Live Longer health campaign Website

List of the grants

Racism: a major impediment to optimal Indigenous health and health care in Australia

Racism has major adverse impacts on the health of Indigenous Australians, and significantly hinders their access to effective health care.

This paper by Niyi Awofeso from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, aims to highlight the scope and ramifications of racism on health and health care of Indigenous Australians, and suggest approaches for minimising racism's adverse health impacts.

Most of racism's negative effects on Indigenous health may be ameliorated through addressing structural determinants of health inequities, improving community awareness regarding racial prejudice, strengthening political will to address racism, improving cultural competence among health workers, and health service redesign to facilitate optimal access to Indigenous health care.

We're smoking less but doing more drugs: study (AIHW)

The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report shows: positive and significant reductions since 2007 in daily tobacco smoking; mixed findings on alcohol consumption and risk; and a small overall rise in illicit drug use. In terms of attitudes to drugs, excessive alcohol use and tobacco smoking were nominated as the two most serious concerns to the community - and there were higher levels of support than previously for tobacco and alcohol harm reduction policies.

Media release

IPrime Orange coverage

Weed It Out extended for extra year (Aboriginal drug prevention program)

The highly successful Weed It Out project which has greatly reduced the use of cannabis in the Torres Strait and Cape York has been extended until June 2012.

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) began the Weed It Out project in 2007 with the aim of reducing the harms associated with cannabis use in Indigenous communities across Cape York and the Torres Strait regions through community engagement, education, supply reduction and crime prevention.

National breastfeeding indicators: workshop report (AIHW)

National breastfeeding indicators: workshop report presents the outcomes of a consensus workshop held on 8 December 2010 in Canberra, regarding core national breastfeeding indicators to support the monitoring of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 and related policies and programs.

During the workshop, a set of draft breastfeeding indicators was discussed for suitability, stability, simplicity and measurability as core national breastfeeding indicators. After extensive discussion, the following set of indicators was agreed:

* proportion of children ever breastfed (for children aged 0-24 months)

* proportion of children breastfed at each month of age, 0-24 months

* proportion of children exclusively breastfed to each month of age, 0-6 months

* proportion of children predominantly breastfed to each month of age, 0-6 months

* proportion of children receiving soft/semi-solid/solid food at each month of age, 0-12 months

* proportion of children receiving non-human milk or formula at each month of age, 0-12 months.

This agreement on a set of indicators in no way implies commitment of resources to data collection and reporting. However, an agreed set of indicators does provide the platform for consistent collection and reporting should a decision be made to report on these.

Researching Indigenous Health: A Practical Guide for Researchers

An important resource and contribution to health research having a real impact on improving the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples-and closing the gap-was launched at the Primary Health Care Research Conference 2011, in Brisbane, on 14 July.

Researching Indigenous Health: A Practical Guide for Researchers,
written by Alison Laycock with support from Diane Walker, Nea Harrison and Jenny Brands, is a companion volume to Supporting Indigenous Researchers: A Practical Guide for Supervisors (2009).

The guide provides existing and potential researchers with information about the history, context, values and changing priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research in Australia, and guidance in how to design and manage successful research projects. It was developed in response to requests received by the Institute for resources and advice on how to conduct health research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This publication is available for purchase from
the Lowitja Institute website,
where you will also find more information about this guide and additional case studies.

Chronic Disease Care: A piece of the picture

This report by the Bureau of Health Information, NSW provides information about two chronic conditions that affect patients in NSW: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure (CHF). It focuses on potentially avoidable admissions (PAAs) for COPD and CHF. PAAs are hospital admissions that could have been avoided either through disease prevention, or more timely or improved care processes.

Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies

This new edition of the Guidelines by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies embodies the best standards of ethical research and human rights. The guidelines have been revised to reflect developments in critical areas that have emerged since the previous edition in 2000. These include changes to intellectual property laws, and rights in traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, and the establishment of agreements and protocols between Indigenous people and researchers. These guidelines also take into account emerging developments in digitisation, and data and information management, and the very significant impacts this has on research and other aspects of Indigenous studies.

National outcome measures for early childhood development: development of indicator based reporting framework (AIHW)

The Council of Australian Governments released the National Early Childhood Development Strategy, Investing in the Early Years in July 2009. The ECD Outcomes Framework in the strategy focuses on what Australia needs to achieve to fulfil the vision that 'by 2020 all children have the best start in life to create a better future for themselves and for the nation'. The early years of a child's life lays the foundation for future health, development, learning and wellbeing.

National outcome measures for early childhood development: development of indicator based reporting framework outlines the process of developing an indicator-based reporting framework for early childhood development, and establishes a recommended high-level set of indicators to measure progress against the ECD Outcomes Framework in the strategy. It presents the results of a review of existing national and international frameworks related to early childhood development; research evidence on aspects of early childhood development most strongly associated with child health, development and wellbeing outcomes; and outlines the selection process for identifying indicators.

CareTrack Australia - health care research

CareTrack Australia is part of an NHMRC program grant to the Australian Institute of Health Innovation that will examine the appropriateness of the care provided in Australia for 22 common conditions.

Previous studies have demonstrated that patients receive evidence based care for common conditions approximately half of the time, and that there is considerable variation in the care that is provided. The study aims to understand who is getting what healthcare from whom, and how and why, from the perspectives of both patients and healthcare providers. They will review the medical records from 2009 and 2010 from 1000 representative Australians.

One of the chief investigators, Professor Bill Runciman, was interviewed last week on ABC Radio National's Health Report. He said that a similar review in the US revealed American adults received the evidence-based consensus recommended care about 55% of the time and children about 46% of the time.

Community impacts of the Guide to the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The report Community impacts of the Guide to the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan is now available.

This report is an in-depth retrospective about how the proposals in last year's Guide would have affected communities in the Basin. It analyses the socio-economic vulnerability of communities based on the Guide's proposals.

It also identifies a set of policy options that can be developed and implemented so that environmental results can be gained at a lower socio-economic cost to Basin communities.

This socio-economic study was commissioned by the Authority in response to feedback from communities. From January to April 2011, nearly 700 key community members were interviewed in 119 towns. These community members represented a range of employment groups across 48 'social catchments' and 80 local government areas.

Before it's too late: Report on early intervention programs aimed at preventing youth suicide

Every year in Australia suicide claims the lives of around 2000 Australians placing it ahead of road traffic accidents and skin cancer as a cause of death. For young people aged 15 to 24, it is the number one cause of death. Despite this, in recent years the issues of mental health and suicide prevention have received comparatively less mainstream policy attention and seemingly less program funding than well resourced and public road safety and sun protection campaigns. The tide is starting to turn. New, strong and ever growing community engagement with these issues now place mental health and suicide prevention firmly on the national policy agenda for political parties of all persuasions who recognise both the complex nature of the issue but also the impact that a single suicide can have on families, communities, schools and workplaces. There has also been a noticeable shift toward more open discussion and debate surrounding the issue of suicide including the role the media play in reporting on the issue; an important conversation to have particularly in the social media era.

Despite the alarming statistics the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing has found some encouraging results to show that the situation can be improved.

Suicide predictions not reliable: study (Aust & NZ J Psych)

There is no reliable way of predicting which psychiatric patients will commit suicide, a new study has found. Present methods for assessing who is at risk of suicide waste resources and place unnecessary pressure on the families and doctors of people who commit suicide, the study leader, Matthew Large, a clinical senior lecturer at the University of NSW, said.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/suicide-predictions-not-reliable-study-20110713-1heb4.html#ixzz1S2NxD0B6

A farm with a difference

300,000 Australians aged from 16 to 24 are grappling with drug or alcohol disorders, and a quarter of them have mental health problems as well. With such alarming statistics, authorities are keen to make sure at risk youth are getting the help they need. A report launched today hails one farm program that's been held up as an example of how to turn young lives around ; Triple Care Farm.

ABC News coverage

The Triple Care Farm Report may be downloaded here

Triple Care Farm webpage

Free DVDs from the Rural Health Education Foundation

Another batch of free topical DVDs made available to health professionals by the Rural Health Education Foundation.

1108 Smoking: An Indigenous Health Challenge (order now for delivery in August 2011)

1109 When Pain Persists: Pain Management in Primary Health (order now for delivery in August 2011)

1104 Gynaecological Cancers: Psychosexual Care (available now)

1106 Endometrial Cancer: Investigation and Appropriate Referral(available now)

1101 Lipids: Managing the Highs and Lows (audio interview series on CD)(available now)

1015 The Discomfort Zone: A Guide to Managing Difficult Consultations(ACT/NSW only).

1112 The Patient's Choice: Quality at the End of Life (available now)

To order complete the order form.

A whispered sort of stuff : views of Aboriginal cancer patients

Aboriginal people with cancer are missing out on life-saving treatment because some see it as a curse that Western medicine cannot treat, a new study shows.

Called A Whispered Sort of Stuff, the report is a unique insight into what Aboriginal cancer patients need, including hospitals offering a "welcome to country" and more kangaroo meat in their meals, and being aware that some people are scared of using lifts.

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Cancer Council of WA, the study is based on detailed interviews with Aboriginal cancer patients.

It found treatment needed to be explained clearly and patients needed to be reassured by stories of people who had survived. Doctors and other staff also needed to be more sensitive to Aboriginal needs.

Press report

Closing the gap on family violence : driving prevention and intervention through health policy

Family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities remains a significant social issue with far-reaching implications for service provision in the health arena, with impacts including: physical injuries; depression, trauma and anxiety; sexually transmitted disease;
and substance use.

Despite these significant health consequences, family violence has generally not been prioritised in health policy or responses. Instead, policing, legal/judicial and women's policy approaches have become the key responses to addressing family violence in Australia, as in many western countries.

Given that the health system often deals directly with the consequences of family violence, it is ideally placed to play an important role in preventing and responding to family violence.

This paper examines the potential for health policies, like the Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes strategy, to better engage with the issue of family violence and, thereby, address a major contributor to poor health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

New online tool takes the confusion out of references

Many distance students writing assignments struggle with the varying demands of different referencing systems and different types of documents.

Griffith University have created a very cool, easy to use online Referencing Tool with examples in the AGPS Harvard, APA, MLA, and Vancouver styles for a number of media types and heaps of different formats.

After hours National GP helpline

The after hours GP helpline has been introduced by the Australian Government from 1 July 2011 as part of the National Health Reform. If you want to know more about it, go to the YourHealth website. The site will also take you to printable brochures, posters and factsheets, as well as FAQs and all the reasoning behind the initiative.

"People I can call on" : Sharing is caring when it comes to chronic illness

Sharing stories and health information with friends and families gives strength to Indigenous Australians living with chronic illness, a new study has found. Conducted by the Menzies Centre for Health Policy based at The Australian National University and the University of Sydney, People I Can Call On examined the experiences and views of Indigenous people living with heart disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Director of the Menzies Centre, Bob Wells, said the study's report provides important insight into the real-life issues and day-to-day realities of Indigenous people living with chronic illness and should inform future health policy. The study describes the great strength of family and community networks that support Indigenous people with chronic illness. He said that these findings are an important addition to the body of knowledge that should inform policies aimed at improving the health of Indigenous Australians.

Press release

Emergency department website goes live

NSW Health has launched a website offering real-time information on the number of patients waiting for treatment in 58 emergency departments across the state. The site, http://www.emergencywait.health.nsw.gov.au provides information on waiting times for treatment - whether it be at the local hospital or a neighbouring hospital – and how to access alternatives such as the local GP or a free 24 hour advice line staffed by a Registered Nurse. The information will assist people get quicker access to care and in spreading the load between busy emergency departments.

Linking stories and initatives: A narrative approach to working with the skills and knowledge of communities

This paper describes an approach to community work informed by narrative ideas that aims to be of relevance to practitioners in a wide-range of contexts. The story of this work began in the Aboriginal community of Port Augusta when a group of community members came together to speak about the many losses that they had experienced over the past year.

Over the last year, a number of Aboriginal communities, which are experiencing hard times, have been exchanging stories. These are stories about special skills, special knowledge, about hopes and dreams and the ways that people are holding onto these. They are stories that honour history. This article describes the thinking that has informed this process. It also contains extracts of stories and messages from different communities.

PubMed and beyond

There are many alternative interfaces to PubMed offering different search and retrieval methods currently not available within PubMed. This free article PubMed and beyond: a survey of web tools for searching biomedical literature looks at and reviews 28 web tools for searching the biomedical literature and compares them to PubMed and each other and has a website dedicated to tracking existing tools and future advances in the area of biomedical literature search tools. Not only does the article look at these 28 interfaces but it also looks at the recent changes to PubMed that were often influenced by these and other outside interfaces.

The FAST campaign recognising signs of stroke

It is important that everyone knows the signs of stroke and what to do if someone is having a stroke. FAST is a year round campaign that promotes the signs of stroke (Face, Arms, Speech, Time). Health professionals working in a variety of different fields and community groups are encouraged to run an activity to promote the FAST campaign.
See more information at http://www.signsofstroke.com.au/fast.html

8570.0 Health Care Services, 2009-10 (First Issue) [Australian Bureau of Statistics]

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released a new publication which contains information about Health Care Services in Australia. Data include: income and expenditure, employment, workforce characteristics, state and regional breakdowns of key data items, performance ratios, and patient/client data.

Two views of health care services statistics are presented in this publication:

* an industry view in Chapters 1 to 5. This view presents data for businesses and organisations whose predominant activity is the provision of health care services. Industry data are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 edition.

* a General Practitioner practice view in Chapter 1 commentary. This view reflects key performance measures of private GP practices. Practices are identified as a subset of the industry view for GPs and are based on a benchmark provided by the Australian General Practice Network.

The publication is free to download here. ( http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/8570.0Main+Features12009-10?OpenDocument

Experts back new program for autistic kids

It is estimated at least 30,000 children across the country have an autism spectrum disorder. Helping or educating an autistic child can be difficult as support services are rare and expensive.

But in the US, a new model known as the Self Advocacy helps children with autism to help themselves and Australian health professionals are urging the Federal Government to investigate adapting the method to schools here.

AJRH Impact Factor jumps to 1.070

Released last week, the 2010 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report has confirmed a significant jump in the Impact Factor of the Australian Journal of Rural Health (AJRH). This improvement in the status of the AJRH confirms it as the leading peer-reviewed scientific journal serving the Australian rural and remote health sector.


Riverland drought support programs continue

Mental Health Minister John Hill has confirmed that drought counselling support programs in the Riverland will be extended for another 12 months.Minister Hill said farmers and growers living in the Riverland will continue to receive counselling support in their local community.“Many people are still experiencing problems associated with the drought and this can have a big impact on their families,” Minister Hill said.“Although the drought is over, it is important that people have access to services that can help them work through any difficulties they are experiencing and get back on track.


Changes in our libraries.

There have been some recent changes in staffing in a number of our libraries.
Orange Hospital : Gnana Segar has resigned to take up a position at Wollongong Hospital.
Far West Health Library Broken Hill : Jocelyn Morris has resigned to take up a position as manager of the Dubbo Branch of the Macquarie Regional Library. Don Keast has resigned to take up a position as Librarian at the Dubbo Hospital Library. Veronica Barlow has returned to the Library as Acting Librarian.
Dubbo Hospital Library : The Library has re-opened, with Don Keast as Librarian.

Closing the Indigenous eye health gap

Significant eye health and vision problems experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be reversed according to reports conducted by the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Indigenous Studies. Blindness rates among Indigenous Australians are six times those in mainstream Australia and there is a major shortfall in the provision of eye care services to Indigenous communities.

The reports reviewed more than thirty years of Indigenous eye health policy maps, estimated the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with eye disease and vision loss and the workforce required to address the problems. Professor Hugh Taylor AC said the findings are a vital step in the nation's quest to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health.

Indigenous eye health unit home

Projected Needs for eye-care services for Indigenous Australians

A critical history of Indigenous eye health policy making

Broken Hill Headspace bid

A group lobbying for better youth health services in Broken Hill is drawing attention to alarming statistics to bolster its campaign. Around 20 people met this week to progress the bid for a Headspace centre to be built in the city.

The committee says up to 95 per cent of year 10 students in Broken Hill have used alcohol while Year 12 finishing rates are half the state average.

Police suicide risk scares psychologist

A former police psychologist has warned of a major suicide risk in the Queensland Police Service, with at least two officers taking their lives every year. But the Queensland Police Service says the suicide rate is way below average and there are enough support services.

Timothy White worked as a psychologist with the QPS up until last year and helped officers in the wake of the Palm Island riots and the Lockhart River plane crash. Dr White said anecdotally there were "alarming rates" of attempted suicide but tight friendship networks in the service helped prevent suicides.