Suicide in Rural and Remote Areas of Australia

A new report launched by the Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, has found that rural and regional communities face unique challenges in preventing and recovering from suicide. Mr Butler said the report - Suicide in rural and remote areas of Australia confirms the need to address suicide in rural and remote Australia in a way that recognises the specific experience of those communities. "Suicide is devastating for families and communities, and we know that rural, regional and remote communities face rates of suicide around 20-30% higher than in metropolitan areas," Mr Butler said.

Those groups most vulnerable to suicide appear to be males, youth, farmers and Indigenous people. Data from the Queensland Suicide Register showed that, between 2005 and 2007, male suicide rates in remote areas were significantly higher than male suicide rates in non-remote areas.

Examining suicide in regional and remote Australia, this report aims to provide a better understanding how the rural cultural paradigm affects suicidal behaviours so we may develop and implement appropriate and effective suicide prevention strategies. In this way, those people most vulnerable can be protected from the tragedy of suicide.

Ministerial press release

Recognition and Respect: Mental Health Carers Report 2012

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Carers, Jan McLucas have welcomed the release of a new report on carers of people with mental illness.Recognition and Respect: Mental Health Carers Report 2012 surveyed more than 500 mental health carers on the services available to them and to the people they care for.

"Mental health carers reported that their role is not well understood by the community, professionals, workplaces and schools and that they struggle to get information about the help available," Mr Butler said. "The Government's $2.2 billion mental health reform plan has provided a significant boost for people with mental illness and their carers, however many carers still experience stigma, discrimination and difficulty gaining support. Carers reported that their role impacts on their finances, physical and mental health, employment prospects, and social connections." Senator McLucas said the research reaffirms the significance of the Australian Government's commitment to supporting Australia's 2.6 million carers.

Press release

People with dementia in hospitals in New South Wales 2006-07 (AIHW)

People with dementia in hospitals in New South Wales 2006-07 examines the experiences of the 252,700 people aged 50 and over who stayed for at least one night in a New South Wales public hospital in 2006-07. Slightly more than 8% of patients (20,800 people) were identified as having dementia. Even allowing for age and sex differences, people with dementia had much higher hospitalisation rates than those without dementia: 26% compared with 12%. They also tended to stay longer in hospital and were more likely to enter or return to residential care on discharge from hospital, or to die in hospital.

The main report is accompanied by a technical paper: Deriving key patient variables: a technical paper for the Hospital Dementia Services Project

Media release

A Contributing Life: the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (National Mental Health Commission)

A Contributing Life: the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, is the independent National Mental Health Commission's inaugural annual report card and is a world first of its kind. Built on the personal stories of people who aren't often heard : people with a lived experience of mental health difficulty, their families and supporters : the report card views mental health as an issue affecting every aspect of the life of a person; a "whole-of-life approach". Its theme, "A Contributing Life", recognises that people with mental health difficulties need the same things as everyone else: a stable home, a decent education, a job, family, friends and healthy relationships, good treatment and access to services and rights.

Launching the report card, Prof Fels said: "It is important that the Prime Minister gave mental health a seat at the top table, making it a matter for Premiers and Chief Ministers, and putting mental health in her portfolio. The Commission has been given the independence and permission we need to 'tell it like it is'. This report uncovers some difficult truths that it will be very difficult to walk away from.

Australia leads the world in progressive mental health policy, but it falls down in delivery. The report card paints a big reform picture, makes 10 specific recommendations, and calls for change in a range of areas where the Commission believes action can and must start now. For example:

· reducing the early death of Australians with severe mental illness and improving their physical health
· minimising the use of seclusion and restraint
· increasing access to mental health services from 6-8 to 12% of Australia's population
· making the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a higher priority
· stopping people from being discharged from mental health services into homelessness or unstable homes
· increasing the employment rates of people with mental illness and paying greater attention to supporting them at work
· increasing access to home based visiting to support families and children
· providing effective, local interventions to prevent suicide

A series of short videos telling the real stories of real people has also been developed to help engage Australians in the theme of each chapter and bring mental health into the public spotlight as well.

Mental health services need to be improved: report (ABC)

Mental Health Commission reports 'massive' problems with services

Media release

The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers

Common myths about immunisation have been laid to rest in a comprehensive new booklet written by the nation's top immunologists and published by the Australian Academy of Science. Devised by a national panel of experts in response to confusion created by contradictory information in the public domain, The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers explains the latest immunology science in accessible language. Based on a series of key questions, the publication aims to increase awareness of the science upon which public and personal health policy decisions responses should be based.

The booklet was prepared by a Working Group overseen by Professor Tony Basten and Professor Ian Frazer, and an Oversight Committee chaired by Sir Gus Nossal. Launching the booklet today, Academy President Professor Suzanne Cory urged all parents to use it as an aid to making crucial
decisions about their children's health.

Australia’s first national online mental health clinic launched

Access Macquarie was announced as the provider of a new online clinic by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler during Mental Health Week in October 2012.

The new online clinic provides confidential assistance to people nationally via the internet, phone or email. This initiative is part of the Australian Government’s mental health reform package and will improve access plan to expand to mental health services in remote areas across Australia. This online clinic will bridge this gap as well as provide a powerful complement to traditional face-to-face services.

Community action on alcohol consumption finds success in west (Central West)

PARKES and Forbes are among NSW towns reported to be getting on top of their booze blues because of a world-leading research project.

The five-year and multi-million-dollar Alcohol Action in Rural Communities (AARC) project tested a community action approach to reducing risky alcohol consumption, too often resulting in harm.

NSW Minister for Western NSW, Mental Health and Healthy Lifestyles, Kevin Humphries, yesterday said the project had been effective in reducing alcohol consumption in rural communities, as well as rates of binge-drinking, alcohol-related crime and residents' experience of alcohol abuse.

He said the project demonstrated communities had an important role to play in complementing state and federal government interventions.

Disability program planned for Trangie

It is hoped a program in Trangie will help people with physical and mental disabilities learn life skills. Challenge Disability Services plans to establish a day program for at least five people in the town's dis-used girl guide's hall.

The chief executive Barry Murphy says the group is working with the council to work out how much it will cost to repair the building. He says the program will be tailored to each participant.

Changes in life expectancy and disability in Australia 1998 to 2009 (AIHW)

Changes in life expectancy and disability in Australia 1998 to 2009 shows that older Australians are living longer and, on average, getting more years of life without severe or profound limitation in basic daily activities. On the other hand, the ageing of the Australian population and increasing longevity are leading to a greater number of older people with disability and severe or profound activity limitation.

Media release

PDQ Evidence : new search engine for evidence about health systems

PDQ ("pretty darn quick")-Evidence facilitates rapid access to the best available evidence for decisions about health systems. It includes systematic reviews, overviews of reviews (including evidence-based policy briefs), primary studies included in systematic reviews and structured summaries of that evidence.

In addition, it includes translations of the titles and abstracts of included records to facilitate searching in different languages and it is continually updated by searching multiple sources of systematic reviews and overviews of reviews, including the Cochrane database of systematic reviews (CDSR), the Health Technology Assessment Database, the EPPI-Centre Evidence Library, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, NICE public health guidelines and systematic reviews and several others.

Three million Australians will develop dementia by 2050

A new report commissioned by Alzheimer's Australia forecasts that three million Australians will develop dementia between 2012 and 2050. The report, Modelling the impact of interventions to delay the onset of dementia in Australia, was prepared by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre: Assessment and Better Care at the University of New South Wales.

"Our analysis shows that if we can develop an effective intervention or treatment to delay the onset of dementia by just 5 years, we could spare close to one million people from the personal tragedy of a diagnosis of dementia," Centre Director, Scientia Professor Brodaty said.

Dementia research in Australia is significantly underfunded in comparison to other chronic diseases, and Glenn Rees, the CEO of Alzheimer's Australia, said "While the Government has made some positive moves, such as the establishment of a new Partnership Centre for research on cognitive decline, we still need an immediate injection of funds to boost the number of Australian researchers working on dementia over the next 10 years."

Media release

Engage - a Gastro-Intestinal (GI) cancer diagnosis need not be a lonely journey

Being diagnosed with cancer inevitably leads to many questions. That is why the GI Cancer Institute has launched Engage, a free online information network to help gastro-intestinal (GI) cancer patients, survivors, carers and family members persevere through this tough time. GI cancers are cancers that affect the digestive system. This includes cancers of the oesophagus, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, stomach and colorectal organs.

Engage is a place to learn about the latest GI clinical trials and to share experiences regarding treatments. A community of people whose lives have been impacted by GI cancer, members can receive online information from survivors and carers who understand the challenges of GI cancer.

Engage is a forum that provides trustworthy, practical, and accessible information for patients and their carers. This information includes:

*Real stories from GI cancer survivors and carers about their cancer journey;
*Information about clinical trials
*News about research conducted by the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG), and GI Cancer Institute fundraising events;
*Recommended resources such as books and links to helpful websites, and;
*Nutrition information such as great recipes.

As well as a wealth of online information, Engage members will be sent a quarterly Engage eNewsletter, which will provide regular updates and stories from health professionals, researchers, survivors and trials participants.

The Learning Guide: a handbook for allied health professionals facilitating learning in the workplace

HETI (The Health Education & Training Institute) has produced The Learning Guide: a handbook for allied health professionals facilitating learning in the workplace in response to requests from many allied health professionals for practical guidelines to facilitate clinical education and learning in the workplace. Along with their roles in supervision, operational management and leadership, many allied health professionals are involved in facilitating clinical education and learning on a day-to-day basis, particularly in skill development and practice.

This guide is not a policy document. It provides information and guidelines based upon published evidence that supports effective methods of promoting education, learning needs and professional development of allied health professionals working in clinical settings, to contribute to the safety and quality care of patients.

The Learning Guide follows the earlier production by HETI of The Superguide - a handbook for supervising Allied Health professionals.

Trends in hospitalised childhood injury in Australia 1999-07 (AIHW)

Trends in hospitalised childhood injury in Australia 1999-07 provides summary data on trends in hospitalised childhood injury for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2007. Information is provided for three age groups (0-4, 5-9 and 10-14 year-olds) for each year.

Overall, falls were the main cause of hospitalised injury among children, with just over 193,100 cases in 1999-2007, followed by transport-related injury with almost 66,900 cases. The most frequent causes of hospitalised falls in children aged 9 years and under involved playground equipment. Older children were more likely to be injured roller-skating and skateboarding.

Media release

Research reveals the alarming cost of postnatal depression

New ground-breaking research from PANDA, the Post and Antenatal Depression Association, reveals 1800 Australian parents are diagnosed every week with post and antenatal depression at a cost to the economy of $433 million. The Deloitte Access Economics research has been released in the lead-up to Postnatal Depression Awareness Week.

The cost of perinatal depression in Australia (Summary report) Deloitte economics

Research reveals the alarming cost of postnatal depression (PANDA)

Mark Butler, Ministerial Press Release

Lab Tests Online-Au launches free pathology information app

Lab Tests Online-Au, the award-winning, not-for-profit website providing independent information about pathology testing has launched a free app for iPhone with versions for Android (Google Play) phones and Amazon Kindle available in the coming weeks.

"Whether you are a patient looking for answers that might reassure you about your health or a medical practitioner, health professional or student seeking quick confirmation of a test, this new app puts the information into the palm of your hand," Lab Tests Online-Au Chair, Professor Leslie Burnett said.

Information on Lab Tests Online-Au is prepared by pathologists and scientists working in pathology laboratories and is reviewed by an editorial board. The website attracts more than 80,000 visits a month. Professor Burnett said research had shown that just over half of users were medical and health professionals and students. "They can now get up-to-date information about pathology testing on their smart phones whenever and wherever they need it."

The Lab Tests Online-Au app has information on hundreds of pathology tests, diseases and clinical conditions and specimen collection and processing, as well a general overview of pathology laboratories, the way they work and the people who work in them. It has been developed by the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (AACB) with support from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA). It has been funded under the Quality Use of Pathology Program of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. The site is accredited by and complies with the international standards of the Health On the Net (HON) foundation.

Lab Tests Online-Au is part of an international network of similar sites. There are now 17 sites world-wide in 14 languages. To download the free app go direct to For more information go to

Health Workforce 2025 : Medical Specialists

The third volume of Health Workforce Australia's landmark projections for doctors, nurses and midwives has just been released, with modeling for medical specialties reinforcing earlier findings that Australia cannot afford to continue a business-as-usual approach if it is to avoid workforce shortages in the future.

Volume three has one clear message : the number of medical specialists is increasing, but the workforce is not evenly distributed.

"What this means is there are not enough general practitioners and some other medical specialists practising in regional and rural Australia, some medical specialties are more popular than others from a career perspective, and there is a growing trend towards specialisation and sub-specialisation, which is resulting in a shortage of generalists," Mark Cormack, the Chief Executive Officer of Health Workforce Australia (HWA), said.

"The specialities that will be in shortest supply by 2025 if reform does not take place are obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology, anatomical pathology, psychiatry, diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology," Mr Cormack said.

Health Workforce 2025 is comprised of 3 volumes.

Volume 1 contains the overall findings from a workforce planning analysis of the trends in the supply and demand of doctors, nurses and midwives in Australia.

Volume 2 contains detailed supply and demand projections for midwives and registered and enrolled nurses by area of practice, as well as state and territory projections for all professions.

Volume 3 contains detailed supply and demand projections for the medical workforce, by specialty.

Download Health Workforce 2025 - Volume 1 Workforce Planning analysis

Download Health Workforce 2025 - Volume 2 Nurses and Midwives

Download Health Workforce 2025 - Volume 3 Medical Specialists

A summary of Health Workforce 2025 : Volumes 1 to 3

National Guidelines for Clinical Placement Agreements (Consultation)

National Guidelines for Clinical Placement Agreements are being developed by Health Workforce Australia (HWA). The Guidelines aim to assist individuals and their organisations who are involved in clinical education and training to develop new, or to review existing, clinical placement agreements.

This group includes education and training providers in the health sector, service providers who provide clinical placement opportunities, clinical supervisors, students and those involved in the administration and/or organisation of clinical placements.

The Guidelines are being developed as part of HWA's Clinical Supervision Support Program (CSSP). They align with the National Clinical Supervision Support Framework and address the three focus areas of the CSSP: Common areas that need to be considered in the development of or review of a clinical placement agreement are outlined in the Guidelines. They also provide leadership by detailing minimum essential requirements that should be included in all clinical placement agreements.

Comments are welcome until close of business Friday 14 December 2012.

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia (AIHW)

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2010-11: report on the National Minimum Data Set

Around 150,500 closed treatment episodes for alcohol and other drug use were provided in Australia in 2010-11 - almost 5,000 more than in 2009-10. For almost half of these episodes, the principal drug of concern was alcohol. Cannabis was the second most common principal drug of concern. Counselling was the most common type of treatment, followed by withdrawal management.

Media release

Free virtual issues on vaccination and infection control

Two virtual issues on infection control topics. Read the full articles for free.

Clinical Microbiology and Infection
New virtual supplement
The impact of vaccines on public health [16 articles]

New Virtual Issue from International Nursing Review
The prevention of infectious diseases and their consequences: still a policy priority for nurses. [8 articles]

Mental health check-up (New Rural Mental Health study)

The UNE is embarking on one of the nation's biggest surveys of rural and regional mental health. It'll be one of the biggest studies of its size in Australia.

The University of New England in Armidale is about to start a large scale biological, medical and social study of mental health in rural and regional areas. It's being funded through a $4.8 million grant from the Federal Government.

Mental-health check-up (ABC)

ROMHAR – Rural Outreach Mental Health and Resilience Study (UNE)

Medications prescribed for people with obstructive airways disease: antibiotics and inhaled corticosteroids (AIHW)

Appropriate use of medications is important in maximising health benefits for patients, minimising the negative effects of medications, and controlling health costs. Medications prescribed for people with obstructive airways disease: antibiotics and inhaled corticosteroids focuses on the appropriate use of certain medications for the management of obstructive airways disease, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Data in this report suggest that antibiotics are commonly used among patients with asthma and COPD, and that supply patterns for inhaled corticosteroids are often not consistent with treatment guidelines for the management of these conditions.

Media release

Workplace screening programs for chronic disease prevention: a rapid review

This review by the Sax Institute examined the effectiveness of workplace screening programs for chronic disease prevention based on evidence retrieved from the main databases of biomedical and health economic literature published to March 2012, supplemented with relevant reports. The review found:

1. Strong evidence of effectiveness of Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) (when used in combination with other interventions) in relation to tobacco use, alcohol use, dietary fat intake, blood pressure and cholesterol

2. Sufficient evidence for effectiveness of worksite programs to control overweight and obesity

3. Sufficient evidence of effectiveness for workplace HRAs in combination with additional interventions to have favourable impact on the use of healthcare services (such as reductions in emergency department visits, outpatient visits, and inpatient hospital days over the longer term)

4. Sufficient evidence for effectiveness of benefits-linked financial incentives in increasing HRA and program participation

5. Sufficient evidence that for every dollar invested in these programs an annual gain of $3.20 (range $1.40 to $4.60) can be achieved.

6. Promising evidence that even higher returns on investment can be achieved in programs incorporating newer technologies such as telephone coaching of high risk individuals and benefits-linked financial incentives.

New AIHW oral health reports

Families and their oral health provides information on the oral health and oral health impacts experienced by Australian children using data from the 2010 National Dental Telephone Interview Survey. It seeks to determine if this experience is closely related to the oral health of their parents. Additionally, the report explores the role family circumstances play in children's experience of oral health.

Chronic conditions and oral health provides information on the impact of oral conditions on people with a chronic condition including asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure and depression.

Media release

Guiding principles for medication management in residential aged care facilities : 2012

The aim of the revised Guiding Principles for medication management in residential aged care facilities : 2012 is to promote safe, quality use of medicines and appropriate medication management in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). It is intended to assist RACFs to develop, implement and evaluate locally specific policies and procedures, support those involved in assisting residents, and support residents in the medication management process.

The Guiding Principles are based on best available evidence and are intended to be applicable to all residential settings. Their application must take into account relevant national, state and territory legislation and regulation, profession-specific licensing, guidelines and standards, and aged care accreditation standards and requirements.

Ministerial press release

Decision-Making Tool: Supporting a Restraint-Free Environment in Aged Care

A restraint-free environment is seen as a basic human right for all and care recipients are entitled to respect and protection of their basic rights and freedoms, regardless of whether the care is being provided in a residential aged care setting or within the care recipients own home. This document has been developed to assist staff and management working in both the residential and community aged care setting to make informed decisions in relation to the use or non use of restraint, in responding to behaviours of concern.

The Decision Making Tool: Responding to issues of restraint in Aged Care (2004) resource has been updated and developed into separate tool kits for the community and residential sectors.

These Tool Kits are designed to assist in the decision making process bearing in mind that any form of restraint is only to be used as a last resort. Organisational policies and procedures need to be underpinned by a restraint-free way of thinking and developed in conjunction with relevant legislation such as the Aged Care Act 1997.

Decision-Making Tool: Supporting a Restraint Free Environment in Residential Aged Care

Decision-Making Tool: Supporting a Restraint Free Environment in Community Aged Care

Ministerial press release

Measuring the quality of allied health services in Australia (Open access article)

Measuring the quality of allied health services in Australia: Is it a case of "the more we learn, the less we know" has recently been published in the open access journal, Journal of Healthcare Leadership.

This evidence-informed analytical review outlines factors that should be considered by allied health leaders when measuring allied health service quality. It describes allied health services in detail and discusses the difficulties when making these measurements, taking into account the locations and range of services provided and the complexity of the allied health discipline-mix. The authors emphasise the importance of strong, visionary, and collaborative leadership to ensure that allied health activities and outcomes are both measured and reported in an effective and efficient fashion.

Grimmer-Sommers K, Milanese S, Kumar S. (2012). Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 4, 71-81