'Startling and disturbing' fall in checks on children at risk

The number of abused children and children at risk of significant harm who have been visited by a Community Services case worker has fallen dramatically. This is contrary to the aims of the state's revamped child protection system. Even the Family and Community Services Department is at a loss to explain the alarming finding.

Respecting the Difference - An Aboriginal Cultural Training Framework for NSW Health

The NSW Health Aboriginal Cultural Training Framework: Respecting the Difference ("The Framework") will assist with increasing cultural competencies and promote greater understanding of the processes and protocols for delivering health services to Aboriginal people. To significantly improve the health status of Aboriginal people and reverse the impacts of racism, there is an immediate need for organisations to provide more respectful, responsive and culturally sensitive services.

This Framework outlines the target audience, aims, training requirements,learning outcomes, and responsibilities in providing Aboriginal Cultural Training.

Residential aged care in Australia 2009-10 / Aged care packages in the community 2009-10 (AIHW)

Residential aged care in Australia 2009-10: a statistical overview

Residential aged care in Australia 2009-10 provides comprehensive statistical information on residential aged care facilities, their residents, admissions and separations, and residents' dependency levels. At 30 June 2010, there were nearly 183,000 residential aged care places, an increase of almost 3% compared with 30 June 2009. Over 83,500 permanent residents (52%) had a recorded diagnosis of dementia at 30 June 2010. Other recorded health conditions included circulatory diseases (40,000 residents) and diseases of the musculoskeletal and connective tissue (27,500 residents).

Aged care packages in the community 2009-10: a statistical overview

This report describes the key characteristics of services and recipients and also looks at the distribution of services relative to the needs of the population. At 30 June 2010 there were around 47,700 recipients of care packages. Around 1,150 providers delivered low-care packages, 370 providers delivered high-care packages and 240 providers delivered high-care specialised dementia packages.

Media release

Inside Radiology

InsideRadiology is a resource produced especially for health consumers by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists. The website includes:

* information about radiology tests and procedures that you or a family member may require

* additional clinical and technical information for health professionals about radiology tests and image-guided treatments

* information about the roles and training of the different health professionals you may encounter at a radiology practice, or in a hospital radiology department

* easy-to-follow instructions about how to find the information that you are seeking.

Forwarded from NCAHS Library Clippings

Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings: Minimum Expectations for Safe Care Centers for Disease Control, May 2011

The transition of healthcare delivery from acute care hospitals to outpatient (ambulatory care) settings, along with ongoing outbreaks and patient notification events, have demonstrated the need for greater understanding and implementation of basic infection prevention guidance. Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings: Minimum Expectations for Safe Care distills existing infection prevention guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC).

Hospital emergency response checklist (WHO)

Hospitals play a critical role in providing communities with essential medical care during all types of disaster. Depending on their scope and nature, disasters can lead to a rapidly increasing service demand that can overwhelm the functional capacity and safety of hospitals and the health-care system at large. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe has developed the Hospital emergency response checklist to assist hospital administrators and emergency managers in responding effectively to the most likely disaster scenarios. This tool comprises current hospital-based emergency management principles and best practices and integrates priority action required for rapid, effective response to a critical event based on an all-hazards approach. The tool is structured according to nine key components, each with a list of priority action to support hospital managers and emergency planners in achieving:

* continuity of essential services;
* well-coordinated implementation of hospital operations at every level;
* clear and accurate internal and external communication;
* swift adaptation to increased demands;
* the effective use of scarce resources; and
* a safe environment for health-care workers.

References to selected supplemental tools, guidelines and other applicable resources are provided. The principles and recommendations included in this tool may be used by hospitals at any level of emergency preparedness. The checklist is intended to complement existing multisectoral hospital emergency management plans and, when possible, augment standard operating procedures during non-crisis situations.

CSU academic welcomes focus on prevention of youth mental health problems

A Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic specialising in the welfare of children and young people has welcomed government recognition of the need to address youth mental health issues.

Mr Neil Barber, a lecturer with the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at CSU in Wagga Wagga believes the focus should be on preventing mental health problems, particularly when associated with alcohol and drug abuse.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has recently agreed to develop a National Partnership to move Australia’s mental health system away from crisis-driven activity towards prevention, early intervention and care in the community. “The statistical data collated from state and federal health bodies on self harm and suicide alone has for some time reported not only high levels of incidence in rural areas, but with only odd exceptions, generally an upward trend in rural areas,” Mr Barber said.


Mental health and climate change

Rates of mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress will increase as a result of climate change, a new report says.

The report, A Climate of Suffering: The Real Cost of Living with Inaction on Climate Change, prepared for the Climate Institute, says loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change could be linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

As many as one in five people reported emotional injury, stress and despair in the wake of these events. The report called the past 15 years a "preview of life under unrestrained global warming".

Sydney Morning Herald report

Opinion piece by Ian Hickie, University of Sydney

Reports on osteoporosis care (AIHW)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released two new reports on osteoporosis management :

Population differences in health-care use for arthritis and osteoporosis in Australia

This report presents differences in health-care use for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis between population groups. The report suggests that, among those with osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, females are more likely to take actions to manage their condition and have a lower rate of joint replacement than males. The report also suggests that complementary medicines that may slow the progression of these conditions are used at a lower rate in the lowest socioeconomic group compared to the highest socioeconomic group.

Use of antiresorptive agents for osteoporosis management

There is no cure for osteoporosis but antiresorptive drugs can reduce further bone loss and slow down disease progression. This report provide information on both the individual and community use of antiresorptive drugs for managing osteoporosis as well as trends in the supply of and expenditure for these medications.

Media release

Aboriginal child abuse rates rise - report

RATES of child abuse and imprisonment among adults have increased, a national report into Aboriginal disadvantage says. The fifth Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report released today was prepared for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and tracks how governments are going in closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
It found Aboriginal children are now seven times as likely to be abused as non-indigenous Australians.


Is it time to re-evaluate bipolar disorder treatments? (Australian research)

A recent paper presented at the Australian Psychology Society (APS) national conference has prompted local discussion regarding the potential to regard 'harnessing creativity' as a therapeutic option in bipolar disorder.

The issue is receiving attention after Swinburne University of Technology's head of Psychology Sciences and Statistics Professor Greg Murray presented research indicating that harnessing the creativity of people suffering with bipolar disorder may lead to a more holistic and beneficial treatment approach.

Emergency 2.0 Wiki Project

The 2011 Queensland floods saw unprecedented uses for social media in breaking news as it happened, and actually saving lives. Police and emergency services enthusiastically incorporated social media into disaster management in situations where conventional communications were swept away in the floodwaters.

This spectacularly unexpected success has led to the formation of the Emergency 2.0 wiki project. Project Leader, Eileen Culleton, presented to the gov2qld group group her idea of capturing and leveraging the lessons learnt by creating an emergency 2.0 wiki to provide best practice advice on how to use social media and web2.0 in all phases of emergency management.

She shared her vision of an emergency 2.0 empowered community in which all sectors : emergency, government, not for profit, community, business, education, media and the public had the knowledge to use social media to better prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. Her vision involved the wiki acting as a hub for collaboration and knowledge sharing across the community, locally and globally.

Although the wiki is still young it now boasts an impressive range of resources on disaster scenarios.

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2011 (Productivity Commission)

The fifth in the series of reports Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2011 has been released. This is the most recent in a series of reports commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments in 2002, to track the extent to which government policies and programs are making a difference to the lives of Indigenous Australians.

Gary Banks, who chairs the inter-governmental Steering Committee, said 'the latest data still reveal considerable disparities in outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians. This applies across the six COAG 'closing the gap' targets, as well as for over 40 other significant indicators. And progress in closing those gaps has been mixed'.

Of the 45 quantitative indicators in the report, available data show improvement in outcomes for 13 indicators - including in employment, educational attainment and home ownership. For 10 indicators, including many health and school education outcomes, there has been no significant improvement, while for another seven, including social indicators such as criminal justice, outcomes have actually deteriorated.

The report reflects ongoing improvements in data collections, but data to measure change over time were not available for one third of the indicators in this edition.


Media release

ABC report by Jane Bardon

New Rural GP Pathway for NSW (Submissions invited)

The Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health, Melinda Pavey, have issued a discussion paper titled Securing a Stable Medical Workforce for NSW Rural Communities.

The discussion paper seeks to support a rural generalist training program and rural pathway for GP training in NSW. The NSW pathway for rural general practice training is designed to provide medical graduates with a structured training program which balances community general practice exposure with rural hospital experience.

Feedback on the discussion paper, which has been distributed to key stakeholders, is requested by Friday, 30 September, 2011. Forward your comments to:
Rural Medical Practitioner Feedback
Workforce Development & Innovation Branch
NSW Department of Health
Locked Bag 961
or via email to WDI@doh.health.nsw.gov.au

Future Arrangements for Governance of NSW Health - Report of the Director-General

The Minister for Health and Medical Research, the Hon. Jillian Skinner MP has announced the outcomes of the Governance Review of NSW Health in the document Future Arrangements for Governance of NSW Health - Report of the Director-General.

Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks

Under the new governance arrangements, Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks will have clear responsibility and accountability for governing hospital and health service delivery for their local district or specialty network. These responsibilities and the funding required to deliver a specified volume of activity will be articulated in a Service Agreement negotiated between the Department of Health, as purchaser and system manager/regulator, and the Local Health District or Specialty Network Board, as providers of health services.

The Ministry of Health

The Department of Health will become the Ministry of Health, providing Westminster functions supporting the Minister and the Government, regulatory functions, public health functions (disease surveillance, control and prevention) and system manager functions in state-wide planning, purchasing and performance monitoring of hospitals and health services. A number of functions will be transferred from the Ministry to other health entities such as the four "Pillar" agencies.

The four "Pillar" agencies

The Agency for Clinical Innovation and the Health Education and Training Institute (previously the Clinical Education and Training Institute) will have an enhanced range of responsibilities and accountabilities. The Clinical Excellence Commission and the Bureau of Health Information will also take on an expanded portfolio of responsibilities.

Silent crisis of youth suicide sparks inquiry

A parliamentary inquiry has been launched into the high rate of youth suicide in the Northern Territory. Politicians say the welfare system is trapping young people in a downward spiral and contributing to the high rate of youth suicide.


Growing number of old people in prison

PRISONS could soon have to feature nursing home sections and ramps for use by inmates in wheelchairs or using walking sticks. These are two of the consequences outlined in a report on a prison population which is ageing much faster than the general population.

In the past ten years, the number of female prisoners over 50 has nearly quadrupled in NSW and last year there were 161 men over 65 in jails, a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology has found.

Sydney Morning Herald story

Australian Institute of Criminology report

New free DVDs from the Rural Health Education Foundation

Managing the Menopause(60 minutes)
Menopause is a natural transition and needs to be managed within the context of other life changes at the time. However the experience will be different for each woman. While 20% of women have few or no specific reactions, many others will experience a range of symptoms. The challenge for health professionals is to assess and manage individual reactions and their impact.

This program discusses the efficacy and safety of evidence based treatments; the latest research on hormone replacement therapy and its relative risks and benefits; the impact of lifestyle interventions; and the evidence base for complementary or "natural" treatments. The program emphasises the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to the management of problems associated with menopause.

See Strong: A Focus on Indigenous Eye Health [26 minutes]
This documentary highlights several successful programs operating in Australia that offer preventative or treatment options to improve Indigenous eye health. The case studies include:

* a model of coordinated eye care in Katherine, NT.
* a preventative approach to trachoma in remote Australia through the use of Trachoma Story Kits for clinics, schools and communities at Bulla NT; and
* an interview with Dr Tim Henderson about the role of the ophthalmologist in the provision of specialist eye health services in Alice Springs and the Barkly region.

This documentary is part of the Rural Health Education Foundation's Improving Indigenous Eye Health Project which incorporates two educational television programs for health professionals and the community on Indigenous eye health.

All Ears: Healthy Hearing in Indigenous Communities (30 minutes)
Otitis media (middle ear infection) and associated hearing problems are a major health and development concern for many Indigenous children in Australia. In some remote Aboriginal communities, rates of tympanic membrane perforation exceed 60% and up to 50% of school children possibly require hearing aids. Studies have shown that in Aboriginal communities, the onset of otitis media frequently occurs within 3 months of birth and progresses to chronic suppurative otitis media in 60% of cases.

This program discusses the barriers to achieving better outcomes for children with otitis media, and proposes strategies to overcome them. It also discusses diagnosis, management, and treatment of the different stages/forms of otitis media. The case studies involved provide good models of how to treat otitis media successfully in Indigenous communities, with particular focus on Indigenous children, and the complications that arise in rural and remote areas.

Order form

Nutrition website launched for indigenous kids

The Jimmy Little Foundation has launched a new interactive website, Thumbs Up! to promote healthy eating to indigenous children in the Northern Territory. The website aims to encourage indigenous children to make healthy food choices and improve nutrition. The website includes a teacher section outlining lesson plans, interactive activities and a variety of resources.

Jimmy Little Foundation chief executive Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup said the website would provide vital health and wellbeing information for schoolchildren in their early formative years. The Thumbs Up! website is part of a broader Jimmy Little Foundation healthy eating program funded by Medicines Australia.

Venous Thromboembolism Prevention Resource Centre

NHMRC and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care have launched a new evidence-based resource for hospitals, patients and policy makers on venous thromboembolism - the Venous Thromboembolism Prevention Resource Centre.

Centre for Community Child Health [Child health resources website]

The Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) part of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, has been at the forefront of Australian research into early childhood development and behaviour for over two decades. CCCH conducts research into the many conditions and common problems faced by children, such as obesity, language and literacy delay, and behavioural concerns, that are either preventable or can be improved if recognised and managed early.

It has now created a new look website to deliver accessible information about the many conditions and common problems faced by children.Practice professionals, parents and researchers will find a host of information geared specifically to their needs. Health resources include regular newsletters, practice resources (education modules on a variety of topics), posters, publications and training courses

Medical labour force 2009 (AIHW)

The supply of employed medical practitioners increased between 2005 and 2009, from 323 to 350 full-time equivalent practitioners per 100,000 population, based on a 40-hour week. The increase reflected a 20.7% rise in practitioner numbers. The gender balance continued to shift, with women making up 36% of practitioners in 2009 compared to 33% in 2005. The average hours worked by medical practitioners declined from 43.7 to 42.2 hours.

Media release


Nursing and midwifery labour force 2009 (AIHW)

The supply of nurses increased by 6.2% between 2005 and 2009, from 1,040 full time equivalent (FTE) nurses per 100,000 population to 1,105 FTE nurses based on a 38-hour week. This was mainly a result of both a 13.3% increase in the number of employed nurses, and a 0.9% increase in the average hours they worked over this period. Nursing continued to be a female dominated profession, with females comprising 90.4% of employed nurses in 2009 (down slightly from 92.1% in 2005).

Media release


"Journeys" - a palliative care resource for children and teenagers

Palliative Care Australia (PCA) has launched Journeys - Palliative care for children and teenagers, a resource designed to prepare and equip families caring for a child with a life limiting illness.

"When families have a child in need of palliative care, finding the right information and support is crucial." said Dr Scott Blackwell, PCA President. "Journeys can help families and carers identify where to look or who to go to for specific information and support which best meets their needs at all stages of their palliative care journey."

Journeys is divided into 4 sections, reflective of the different stages and situations families may face as their child's illness progresses. "No child, family or illness is the same and this resource contains a wealth of information to support the whole family, from explaining commonly used words or phrases used in initial diagnosis, though to dealing with death and bereavement."

Journeys - Palliative care for children and teenagers can be downloaded or ordered free of charge in hard copy from the PCA website.

Internet barriers put older Australians at risk

More than 40% of older Australians say the internet is too expensive, putting them at risk of being excluded from important online health and financial services, new research shows.

Dr Sandra Haukka, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), said seniors, particularly pensioners, risked being left behind as businesses and governments shifted more services to the web. Dr Haukka's nationwide study, Older Australians and the Internet, surveyed 149 participants aged 50 and older who were members of National Seniors Australia. It also included in-depth interviews with seniors who did not use or rarely used the internet, including those who lived in urban, regional, rural and remote areas.

Major findings in the report included:

- 53% of participants said their interest in the internet was 'moderate' or 'above', while 46% said their interest was 'nil' or 'low'.
- Almost two-thirds of participants said they had 'very low' internet skills.
- More than 40% of participants said cost was a barrier to using the internet.
- One-third (34%) of participants said the internet would improve their daily life.

"Many seniors told us they need one-on-one help, more cheap classes, equipment, a helpline and clear instructions," Dr Haukka said.

Nature of association between rural background and practice location: A comparison of general practitioners and specialists

This paper explores the association between rural background and practice location for general practitioners and specialists. It examines the number of childhood years spent in a rural location and population size of area compared to current practice location. For GPs at least 6 childhood years spent in a rural location and for specialists at least 11 years were associated with the likelihood of practising in a rural location. No association was present for rural location size. Females were less likely to be practising in a rural location when compared with males. Implications for medical student selection are discussed.[Abstract precis by PHC RIS]

See: Nature of association between rural background and practice location: A comparison of general practitioners and specialists McGrail M, Humphreys J, et al. (2011). BMC Health Services Research, 11:63

The costs of caring and the living standards of carers (FACHSIA)

Informal carers are people who provide unpaid help, support or assistance to family members or friends with disability, chronic illness, mental illness, other illness, or alcohol or other drug problems. Recent estimates suggest that around 16% of the adult population in Australia provide informal care and that the majority of people who require help or assistance receive support from family or friends.

The economic value of the contribution of informal carers to the Australian economy has been estimated at over $40 billion a year, if all the care was to be replaced by formal services (Access Economics 2010). The social value of informal care is immense, because care provided by family or friends enables others to remain in their home, connected to their family and community. Yet the available evidence suggests that, under the current policy settings, the contribution of informal carers may significantly affect the lives of the individual carers.

This project addressed this issue by investigating three research questions:

* What is known about the direct costs incurred in informal caring as distinct from the indirect costs of care?

* What are the most robust methods to investigate the direct costs of care and what data are available in Australia to do so?

* What are the living standards of different subgroups of carers in Australia and what might this imply about the direct costs of care?

Denial of rights in psychiatric treatment

PSYCHIATRIC patients who have been detained involuntarily are being held without independent review for more than a month, and some hospitals are refusing access to lawyers and providing inadequate information to patients and their families

The Australian Medicines Industry launches new website for public

The Australian Medicines Industry has launched a new public website that seeks to raise awareness of the industry's contribution to the health and wealth of the nation.

Spokesman Dr Brendan Shaw said the website is part of a broader initiative to explain to the public who the industry is and what it does. He said that most Australians don't stop and think about where their medicines come from and many people don't really know that we have a medicines industry in Australia.

Free resources on problem gambling

The NSW Government Office of Liquour, Gaming and Racing has a number of resources available to staff working with problem gamblers. These include the resource book "A guide to problem gambling", a DVD "Gaming machines : myths and facts" and several brochures and fact sheets. Resources may be downloaded or ordered in hard copy.

Online education on primary health care topics

The Australian Practice Nurses Association has developed an online learning portal for practice nurses and others working in primary care. The latest addition to the list of available courses is "Diabetes management in the primary care setting". Other topics available include : Influenza prevention, Mental health, Leg ulcers, Bowel screening , Introduction to eyes. Courses in development include Immunisation, STI & blood borne virus, Palliative care. Costs vary across the courses (some free).

Disability Care and Support (Productivity Commission)

The Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a public inquiry into a long-term disability care and support scheme.

Amongst other things, the inquiry examined:

- how a scheme should be designed and funded to better meet the long-term needs of people with disability, their families and carers
- how to determine the people most in need of support, the services that should be available to them, and service delivery arrangements
- the costs, benefits, feasibility and funding options of alternative schemes
- how the scheme will interact with the health, aged care, informal care, income support and injury insurance systems
- its impacts on the workforce
- how any scheme should be introduced and governed
- what protections and safeguards should be part of the scheme.

The Commission has now submitted its final report to Parliament. Key findings include :

* Most families and individuals cannot adequately prepare for the risk and financial impact of significant disability. The costs of lifetime care can be so substantial that the risks and costs need to be pooled.
* The current disability support system is underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient, and gives people with a disability little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports. The stresses on the system are growing, with rising costs for all governments.
* There should be a new national scheme - the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) - that provides insurance cover for all Australians in the event of significant disability. Funding of the scheme should be a core function of government (just like Medicare).


Key points

Media release

National Health Reform Agreement

The Federal Government has announced that, in partnership with states and territories, a National Health Reform Agreement has been reached which will deliver better health care for all Australians and secure the sustainability of Australia's health system into the future.

The agreement cements the commitment made at the 13 February Council of Australian Governments meeting, and will see all governments working together to reform the health system. This agreement will build on the work already progressed to date.

Under the agreement, all governments have agreed to major reforms to the organisation, funding and delivery of health and aged care.

These reforms aim to deliver better access to services, improved local accountability and transparency, greater responsiveness to local communities and provide a stronger financial basis for our health system into the future through increased Commonwealth funding.

The agreement, fact sheets and supporting documents available here.

Media release

Caring for Older Australians (Productivity Commission)

Over one million older Australians receive aged care services. The range and quality of these services have improved over past decades, but more needs to be done.

Future challenges include the increasing numbers and expectations of older people, a relative fall in the number of informal carers, and the need for more workers. By 2050, over 3.5 million Australians are expected to use aged care services each year.

The Productivity Commission has released its report into the aged care system, Caring for Older Australians. The aged care system suffers key weaknesses. It is difficult to navigate. Services are limited, as is consumer choice. Quality is variable. Coverage of needs, pricing, subsidies and user co-contributions are inconsistent or inequitable. Workforce shortages are exacerbated by low wages and some workers have insufficient skills. The Commission's proposals address these weaknesses and challenges, and aim to deliver higher quality care.

Key points

Experts respond to the "Caring for older Australians report

Collaborative Research Network for Mental Health and Well-being in Rural Communities

The University of Sydney is one of five partners working with the University of New England (UNE) which has recently been awarded $4.8 million dollars from the Australian Government to establish a Collaborative Research Network (CRN) on Mental Health and Well-being in Rural and Regional Communities.

Dentists, specialists and allied practitioners in Australia (AIHW reports)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released three new reports on Australia's oral health labour force.

Dentists, specialists and allied practitioners in Australia: Dental Labour Force Collection, 2006

The supply of dentists (including dental specialists) grew from 46.6 to 50.3 full-time equivalent practising dentists per 100,000 population between 2000 and 2006. In 2006 there were an estimated 10,400 practising dentists in Australia, of whom 1,300 were dental specialists. There were an additional 3,100 allied dental practitioners comprising of dental hygienists, dental therapists, and oral health therapists, nearly all of whom were women. Almost 90% of the estimated 900 practising dental prosthetists in 2006 were men.

Oral health practitioners in Australia, 2006

In 2006, there were 1,171 dental therapists, 674 dental hygienists and 371 oral health therapists practising in Australia. The oral health practitioner workforce was overwhelmingly female, with 98.8% of dental therapists, 96.7% of hygienists and 94.8% of oral health therapists being female. Dental therapists were the oldest group among the oral health labour force, with an average age of 42.9 years.

Oral health practitioners labour force projection 2006-2025

Between 2006 and 2025 the number of oral health therapists practising in Australia is expected to increase from 371 to 2,117. Dental hygienist numbers are also expected to increase (from 674 to 1,458), while dental therapist numbers are projected to decrease (from 1,171 to 443). Overall, the number of oral health practitioners per 100,000 population is expected to increase from 10.8 to 16.2 by 2025.

Media release

Breaking down communication barriers between health professionals and Indigenous people (teaching resources)

An innovative Indigenous online teaching resource launched on 4 August will help close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through improving communication between health professionals and Indigenous people.

The Byalawa project comprises a website and a set of six online videos designed to assist health sciences students across a range of disciplines learn to effectively communicate with Indigenous patients and clients. Health professionals such as lead researcher Dr Tricia McCabe, from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Sydney University, have long known that cultural misunderstandings can be a barrier to communication. Factors that can limit effective communication between Aboriginal patients and healthcare workers include a lack of patient control over language, timing, content and circumstances of the interactions; and most importantly for this project, a lack of staff training in intercultural communication. To create the videos Dr McCabe conducted qualitative research through focus groups with Aboriginal people.

Unique therapy reduces risk of child abuse (Griffith Health Institute study)

A Griffith Health Institute trial involving 150 Queensland mothers and their children shows that a specially-adapted early intervention program significantly reduces risk factors associated with child abuse.

The coercive, stressful family environment which leads to incidents of child abuse in the home is being overcome through Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a hi-tech interactive therapy program.

Beyondblue offers support to disaster-affected regions

COMMUNITY leaders from areas affected by floods, cyclones and bushfires are being urged to contact beyondblue to arrange a free “Community Support Training” session so people are better equipped to deal with the emotional impact of experiencing a natural disaster.

As communities affected by disaster go through the important phase of recovery, it is vital that people with mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, are identified early and given support and access to help," beyondblue CEO Dawn O’Neil AM said.

Experts look into future of mental health at Hunter health congress

Acclaimed mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry will give his assessment of the future of mental health in Australia at a public lecture in Newcastle this week. The former Australian of the Year will speak at the Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Oration on Wednesday 3 August.

The Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust, in conjunction with the University of Newcastle Foundation, annually awards a visiting fellowship to a prominent scholar to visit and teach in Newcastle. This year Professor McGorry has been appointed the Fellow.


Grief to be classified as psychiatric disorder

Time alone simply may not be enough and with that in mind the new edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder", is expected to include long-term grief as a psychiatric disorder. It's a controversial move for those who think grief should not be treated with medication. Lexi Metherell has been speaking to University of New South Wales Professor Richard Bryant, who sits on a panel reviewing the manual.

Journalists' guidelines on suicide to shed light on reporting taboo

THE tragedy that dares not speak its name in thousands of communities across the country is to be given more open media coverage with the release of new reporting standards on suicide by the Australian Press Council. "There should not be a taboo on reporting of this kind," the chairman of the Press Council, Julian Disney, said yesterday."It is important to be very careful, however, when the material is likely to be read or seen by people who might be especially vulnerable -- for example, because of their age or mental health -- and relates to suicides by their peers or by celebrities."

Autism in Australia 2009

Autism in Australia 2009, by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, aims to present an overview of the prevalence of autism in Australia and the impact it has on the everyday lives of those with the condition.

The report includes diagnoses changes, state and territory data for the epidemiology of autism, education and labour force participation and the need and receipt of assistance. The data indicated that people with autism were "struggling with economic participation, with lower levels of post-school qualifications and labour force participation compared to other people with disabilities." It concludes, "Autism is a very restrictive condition requiring a high level of support on a daily basis. While schools in Australia are providing some support to help children with the condition, 2009 data indicates more needs to be done to help them into further education and to the labour force."

New resources for urgent paediatric care in NSW

NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner, has launched a range of clinical resources aimed at enhancing the recognition and management of sick infants and children in urgent or deteriorating situations. She said the tools will further enhance the skills and knowledge for clinical staff in handling young patients who present as an emergency or with deteriorating conditions. The new clinical resources are:

* The NSW Rural Paediatric Emergency Clinical Guidelines : a document to help outline procedures to ensure the early management of children who present to Emergency Departments where Medical Officers are not immediately available.

* The Recognition of the Sick Baby or Child in the Emergency Department : guidelines to assist clinicians in early and rapid recognition of imminent risk in our young and very vulnerable patients.

* The first chapter of the DETECT Junior manual : an online paediatric version of the DETECT program to enhance the recognition and management of clinically deteriorating infants and children. (Program currently in development)

Media release

Keep up to date with the Mental Elf

Mental health professionals who would like to keep up-to-date with the mental health research literature may benefit from incorporating The Mental Elf into their reading patterns.

The Mental Elf website provides daily summaries which highlight evidence-based publications that are relevant to mental health practice in the UK and further afield. The site is developing nicely, covering new research in all major fields of mental health practice.

The Mental Health Rights Manual: A Consumer Guide to the Legal and Human Rights of People with Mental Illness in NSW (3rd Edition) 2011

Every person with a mental illness should have the right to exercise all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as recognised in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Mental Health Coordinating Council presents its online NSW Mental Health Rights Manual (3rd Edition) which extensively builds on the 2004 online edition and the original manual published in 1995. By incorporating the latest legislative reform and government directives, the new edition ensures ongoing access to current legal information for anyone in contact with the mental health sector.

Written in plain language, the manual is an invaluable readily accessible resource, bringing together vital information crucial to anyone having to navigate the mental health system, enabling them to become acquainted with their rights, the legal and service system, and access support and guidance.