A picture of Australia's children 2012

A picture of Australia's children 2012 provides the latest information on how Australia is faring according to key indicators of child health, development, and wellbeing. Deaths rates for infants and children have declined since 1986, rates of risky drinking and smoking among children aged 12-14 are down, and most children achieve above the minimum standards for reading and numeracy.

But there is still room for improvement. Almost one-quarter of children are developmentally vulnerable at school entry, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children in socioeconomic disadvantaged areas are likely to fare worse across a broad range of indicators.

Media release

Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health

Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health, produced by the Kulunga Research Network in Western Australia, provides a comprehensive overview of indigenous mental health.

The book contains 21 chapters and is divided into four parts.

Part 1 contains four chapters that outline the historical, social, cultural, and policy contexts that have shaped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing.

Part 2 contains seven chapters on a number of issues that are particularly relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing.

Part 3 contains five chapters that focus on practice within the field.

Part 4 presents examples of models and programs for practitioners working with different groups.

Free hard copies are available by emailing enquiry@ichr.uwa.edu.au. Please provide your postal address, the number of copies you require and the intention of use of the hard copies.

Electronic pdf copy : You can download the complete book as a single pdf or download individual chapters and sections.

Australian health survey: first results, 2011-12

First results from the Australian Health Survey have some good and bad news; smoking rates continue to fall, as do rates of drinking at risky levels, but the number of people who are overweight and obese continues to rise.

Dr Paul Jelfs of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, said the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey was the largest checkup on the nation's health ever undertaken. "Compared to four years ago the proportion of overweight adult Australians has increased by more than two percentage points, meaning that nearly two-thirds (63%) of the population are now classified as overweight or obese," Dr Jelfs said. "Men were more likely to be overweight or obese (70%) than women (56%) while one-quarter (25%) of our children are overweight or obese".

He added that while Australians are not winning the battle of the bulge, the good news is we are smoking and drinking less. "Smoking rates are down across all age groups, particularly for people aged under 45," he said. "Men are still more likely to smoke than women - the rate is about one in five men compared to one in seven women. "Just over 16% of adult Australians smoke daily, a fall of nearly 3% over the last 4 years. "On a state basis, there were more smokers in the Northern Territory (23.9%) and Tasmania (21.8%) and the fewest in the Australian Capital Territory (13.4%).

"Australians are also drinking less, with a drop of 1.4% in the number of people drinking more than 2 standard drinks on average per day," Dr Jelfs said.

Results released today from the Australian Health Survey are the first in a series of results that will be released progressively over the next 18 months.

Media release

Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2010 (AIHW)

In 2010, there were 61,774 assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment cycles performed in Australia and New Zealand. Of these, 23.9% resulted in a clinical pregnancy and 18.1% in a live delivery (the birth of at least one liveborn baby). There were 12,056 liveborn babies following ART treatments in 2010.

Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2010

Media release

Study to Improve Cancer Survival for Aboriginal Peoples : Call for participants

Cancer is the second biggest killer of Aboriginal people in Australia and the death rate from cancer is 60% higher in Aboriginal people than in non-Aboriginal people.

Cancer Council NSW is seeking participants for a study that will investigate the barriers to Aboriginal people getting health care, the aim being to improve access to cancer diagnoses and treatment. Participation could help them to remove barriers to early diagnosis and treatment and improve the unacceptable cancer survival rate.

The study is open to any Aboriginal person aged 18 and over who has been diagnosed with cancer since July 2010.

Participation involves a short 20 minute phone call to discuss medical care leading up to cancer diagnosis. Participants will receive a $60 gift voucher for their time.

For more information and to register, go to the Cancer Council study http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/62523/uncategorized/join-the-aboriginal-pathways-to-diagnosis-study/?pp=62523

Mental health online forum

NEXT Thursday The Land will host an online forum with a panel of mental health professionals available to answer questions or address comments.

It is designed to build on the 56-page Glove Box Guide to Mental Health initiated by The Land and the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and free inside the October 18 issue of The Land.

The Land's editor Sally White said the joint initiative was designed to build awareness around mental health issues and provide readers with information about where to seek assistance and how they can help their family and friends.

Schools to get help dealing with suicide

The Federal Government will pay for specialists to be sent to high schools when a student has committed suicide. The program will be run by Headspace, Australia's national youth mental health foundation.

Mental Health Minister Mark Butler says about two to three students kill themselves every week. He says the teams will help school communities spot people with mental health problems and stop copycat suicides.


The Menzies-Nous Australian health survey 2012

The Menzies-Nous Australian health survey 2012 provides key findings about the views held by Australians on their own health, on the Australian health care system and on aged-care services. The 2012 survey is the third biennial national survey conducted by the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Nous Group.

The survey was conducted via a phone interview of 1200 people in July 2012. To enable analysis of trends since 2008, a number of questions regarding the health of Australians and use of the health care system were consistently asked in 2008, 2010 and 2012. A number of questions were also asked for the first time this year, particularly those regarding Australian perspectives on aged-care reforms.

Demographic information was collected for survey participants to enable comparisons to be made in the following areas: age; financial stress; location; and level of education.

Helping hands for rural mental health

ADDRESSING causes and prevention of suicide and other mental health issues was the focus of a "Mental Health in the Bush" evening at Ceduna, as a part of Mental Health Week and the Suicide: It’s No Secret campaign.

Organised through the Mental Health team at Ceduna Health Centre, led by Julie Kurenda of Ceduna Mental Health and Uniting Church minister Reverend Sue Ellis, the information session aimed to break the silence on suicide, let the community know there is help available and to look out for the signs of mental illness or depression.

"Suicide: It’s No Secret" is a Uniting Church campaign which aims to get people to be more open about the causes of suicide and how it can be prevented.


Broken Hill DVD wins mental health award

A DVD featuring local carers has been recognised for telling their stories in a way that is useful for others in the same situation.

Sophie Angell and Tanya Clifton from the Family and Carer Mental Health Program in the Far West Local Health District won the award for family and carer involvement and engagement for their "Intangible" DVD.

Intangible was a digital storytelling project whereby we took seven carers' stories from far west NSW - mostly from Broken Hill and one from Menindee - and we put there stories on a DVD," Ms Angell said.

"It was really focused on the images around the area we live in, so it was really visual, and then we ended up making a quote book, a poster and there's even a website as well."

Broken Hill DVD wins mental health award (ABC News)

Intangible website

Progress of the nation’s first Indigenous suicide prevention strategy

Researchers from the Menzies Centre for Child Development and Education (CCDE) criss-crossed the country during August and September conducting public consultations in 16 capital cities and regional centres. Their ultimate task was to seek information that may help to reduce the distressingly high rates of suicide in Indigenous communities around Australia.

The team, lead by Associate Professor Gary Robinson, has been charged with capturing material to feed into the development of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy. It has spoken to more than 500 people and received over 50 submissions to the consultation website.

Suicide a topic to discuss

THE DUBBO Aboriginal Lands Council Meeting Room was the venue for a collaborative venture that aims to prevent and help young indigenous students cope with suicide.

About 50 people from a variety of community groups in Dubbo attended the discussion, including many Aboriginal elders.

Representatives from Dubbo public schools were also in attendance.

Palliative care services in Australia (AIHW)

Palliative care services in Australia is the first in a planned series of annual reports providing a detailed picture of the national response to the palliative care needs of Australians. Details from a range of data sources for 2009-10, and where available 2010-11, are presented, as are changes over time.

The number of palliative care hospital admissions in Australia rose by more than 50% between 2001 and 2010. The report shows that there were almost 56,000 palliative care admissions reported in public and private hospitals in 2009-10. Almost $3 million in Medicare Benefits Schedule payments was paid for palliative medicine specialist services in 2010-11. The average age of people being admitted to palliative care was 71.9 years.

Media release

BreastScreen Australia monitoring report 2009-10 (AIHW)

BreastScreen Australia aims to reduce illness and death resulting from breast cancer through organised screening of women. This report is the latest in an annual series that presents national statistics monitoring the program against performance indicators. Breast cancer mortality is at a historic low, at 43 deaths per 100,000 women.

The report, Breastscreen Australia monitoring report 2009-2010, shows that more than 1.3 million women in the target age group of 50-69 were screened in 2009-2010, a participation rate of 55% .

In 2009-2010, participation was highest in Outer regional areas (58.2%), and lowest in Very remote areas (47.2%).

The difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous women was greater, with 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 50-69 having a screening mammogram in 2009-2010, compared with 55% of non-Indigenous women.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). In 2008, there were around 7,000 new cases diagnosed in Australian women aged 50-69 -this equates to around 19 women aged 50-69 diagnosed with this disease every day.

Media release

New Australian Clinical Trials website

Patients suffering chronic diseases will benefit from the launch of a new website that offers easier access to clinical trials of new drugs, treatments and medical procedures. Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, said that the Australian Clinical Trials website was created in response to the needs of consumer groups, the pharmaceutical industry and research institutions.

"Clinical trials give tens of thousands of patients access to new and innovative treatments and play a vital part in the fight against disease," Ms Plibersek said. "There are many stories about recovery, improved quality of life or longer life from participating in a clinical trial conducted in Australia and this website will make it easier for patients to find out about and access clinical trials."

The website includes explanations of the clinical trial process; contact details for trials; a section for trial sponsors; real stories from patients, doctors and researchers, and a section for researchers on ethics, legislation and getting started.

Elective surgery waiting times (AIHW)

Australian hospital statistics 2011-12: elective surgery waiting times

In 2011-12: - About 662,000 patients were admitted to Australian public hospitals from elective surgery waiting lists - 50% of patients were admitted for their surgery within 36 days of being placed on the waiting list and 90% were admitted within 251 days.

The surgical specialities with the longest median waiting times in 2011-12 were Ophthalmology, Ear, nose and throat surgery and Orthopaedic surgery (74, 66 and 63 days respectively). Cardiothoracic surgery had the shortest median waiting time (16 days).

Total knee replacement was the procedure with the longest median waiting time (184 days) while Coronary artery bypass graft had the shortest median waiting time (16 days).

"Over the five years from 2007-08 to 2011-12, the number of admissions from elective surgery waiting lists nationally rose by an average of 3.8% per year-but this was partly driven by an increase in the number of small hospitals reporting waiting times data", said AIHW spokesperson Alison Verhoeven.

Media release

Senate Committee on Palliative Care in Australia : final report

The Senate has released its long awaited final report into the state of palliative care in Australia, calling for a national conversation on palliative care : an issue which "belongs to all of us". The committee has made 38 recommendations in total on areas including palliative care funding, education for health professionals, education for the community, the need for improved access to information about services and supporting people to die in the place of their choice. The recommendations also focus on the needs of specific groups such as Indigenous Australians, CALD communities and children.

Dr Yvonne Luxford, CEO of Palliative Care Australia said, "The comprehensiveness of the report and the response from the Senators involved in the Inquiry is extremely encouraging. We look forward to seeing palliative care made a real priority in the current health reforms and recognised as an integral part of the health system."

Final report

Committee page

Senators call for a 'national conversation' on palliative care (Palliative Care Australia media release)

Mental health services: in brief 2012 (AIHW)

Mental health services in Australia - in brief 2012 provides an overview of the national response to the mental health needs of Australians. It includes information on mental health service provision, available mental health resources and the changes that have occurred in these over time. The publication compliments the more comprehensive data that is available online at Mental health services in Australia .

The report shows that about 1.7 million Australians (8% of the population) received public or private mental health services in 2009-10, generally receiving multiple services.

Mental health-related services are provided through hospitals and other residential care, hospital-based outpatient services, community mental health care services and consultations with specialists and General Practitioners (GPs).

There were about 13.9 million mental health-related GP visits in 2010-11. Depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance were the 3 mental health-related problems most frequently managed by GPs.

Media release

Patient Blood Management Guidelines

The first three modules of the National Blood Authority's Patient Blood Management Guidelines have been released.

Mr Leigh McJames, National Blood Authority's General Manager, said, "while blood transfusions are a recognised life-saving part of medical treatment, they can also be associated with adverse events and poorer outcomes for some patient groups. These guidelines provide healthcare professionals with the latest evidence-based approach to managing patients to minimise unnecessary exposure to transfusions where possible and deliver better outcomes for patients."

The guidelines have been developed by experts from clinical speciality colleges, societies and consumer representatives working with the NBA.

The Patient Blood Management Guidelines are a series of 6 modules that focus on evidence-based patient blood management. The modules are intended to assist and guide clinical decisions and coordination of healthcare across the primary, secondary and tertiary care settings for patient-specific groups requiring blood or blood products as part of their treatment.

Patient blood management aims to improve clinical outcomes for patients by avoiding unnecessary blood transfusion. It includes the three pillars of:

*Optimisation of blood volume and red cell mass
*Minimisation of blood loss
*Optimisation of the patient's tolerance of anaemia.

Guidelines currently available:

*Patient Blood Management Guidelines: Module 1 Critical Bleeding/Massive Transfusion

*Patient Blood Management Guidelines: Module 2 Perioperative

*Patient Blood Management Guidelines: Module 3 Medical

In development :

*Patient Blood Management Guidelines: Module 4 Critical Care
*Patient Blood Management Guidelines: Module 5 Obstetric
*Patient Blood Management Guidelines: Module 6 Paediatric / Neonate

Breast cancer in Australia: an overview (AIHW)

Breast cancer in Australia: an overview provides a comprehensive picture of breast cancer in Australia including how breast cancer rates differ by geographical area, socioeconomic status, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and country of birth.

Survival rates for breast cancer nationally are improving, however, 37 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each day. The number of new breast cancer cases more than doubled from around 5,300 to 13,600 cases between 1982 and 2008. The sharp increase in the incidence rate in the early 1990's was most likely due to the introduction of the national breast cancer screening program in 1991.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Australian women and the majority of cases (69%) are diagnosed in women aged 40-69. Some population groups in Australia have lower survival than others, such as women living in remote and very remote areas of Australia, those living in lower socio-economic areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Media release

Health indicators for NSW

Health indicators for NSW by Talina Drabsch of the NSW Parliamentary Research Service, contains a selection of health statistical indicators in New South Wales. It aims to provide a snapshot of health trends, with a focus on the overall situation in NSW. Where relevant, comparisons are made to the situation in the other Australian States and Territories. For some of the indicators, figures for the various regions within New South Wales are included.

e-hospice : new website for the latest in palliative care

Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and international partners have launched ehospice- the first globally managed news app and website that will deliver international news and intelligence on hospice, palliative and end of life care.

" ehospice is set to revolutionise how we access information about palliative and end of life care," said Dr Yvonne Luxford, PCA chief executive officer. "The website and app bring together the expertise and experience of the global hospice and palliative care community for the first time in one place." Online, on iPad or on their phone, readers will have access to current news, best practice, inspirational stories, jobs, events and photo galleries from around the world. It will also be a key tool to support advocacy at the national, regional and global level.

David Praill, chair of the World Palliative Care Alliance, said "ehospice is about supporting the development of the best possible care by transferring knowledge between clinicians, policy makers, hospice leaders and supporters, encouraging exploration and learning and building global partnerships."

ehospice is split into different country/regional editions, with Palliative Care Australia managing the Australian edition.

Perinatal Palliative Care

A new website has been launched to help families deal with the challenge of a life limiting condition in their unborn child. Perinatal Palliative Care, an initiative of Catholic Health Australia (CHA), is the first of its kind in Australia.

The aim of the website is to give families information about a range of conditions, advice on where they can find help and also to share stories of people who lived through the experience and are thankful for what has been described as a bittersweet journey.

"Families need to receive the best possible medical advice they can, but they also need support from people who have experience in dealing with the emotional aspects of preparing for the birth of a child with a life limiting condition. Through this project, we have been able to hear from parents who have made the decision to continue with the pregnancy and share the joys and sorrows that the experience created for them," said Mr Martin Laverty, CEO of CHA.

The website was developed as a collaboration of hospitals that provide perinatal palliative care services. It provides educational information for parents and health professionals, a useful list of services and a range of stories and personal experiences about perinatal palliative care.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services report (AIHW)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services report, 2010-11: OATSIH services reporting - key results is the 3rd national report on health services provided by Aboriginal community controlled and non-community controlled health organisations, and funded by the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

In 2010-11:

- primary health care services provided 2.5 million episodes of care to about 428,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, a 4% increase from 2009-10
- substance use services provided treatment and assistance to about 28,600 clients, a 9% increase from 2009-10
- Bringing Them Home and Link Up counselling services were accessed by about 11,800 clients, an increase of about 10% from 2009-10.

'The last frontier' : practice guidelines for treatment of complex trauma and trauma informed care and service delivery

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) announces a global first with the launch of their new Australian guidelines 'The last frontier': practice guidelines for treatment of complex trauma and trauma informed care and service delivery

Funded by Federal Government Department of Health and Ageing, the guidelines were created by ASCA, the key national organisation focussed on the needs of adult survivors of all forms of childhood trauma. Professor Warwick Middleton, Psychiatrist and member of ASCA's Advisory Panel stated: "Society has demonstrated an extreme reluctance to probe into how trauma and abuse fill our mental health units, our drug and alcohol detox services, our prisons and our medical wards. Most of our mental health patients are traumatised, many grievously so."

The purpose of the guidelines is to inform health professionals, workers and organisations about new ways of responding to trauma, in clinical practice and in health and human service settings. The guidelines aim to influence, advise and educate on treatment of complex trauma and the implementation of trauma informed care and service. Clinical guidelines for the treatment of complex trauma have not previously existed, and the new guidelines are the world's first to collate the last 20 years of national and international research.