Network for Indigenous Cultural and Health Education portal

Welcome to the NICHE (Network for Indigenous Cultural and Health Education) portal – an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural learning portal for medical practitioners.

NICHEportal is an initiative of the Specialist Medical Colleges of Australia. It is a central information point for educational resources for doctors who care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and patients. It aims to ensure that these health and cultural learning resources meet the aims and standards of the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC) National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Specialist Framework.

NICHEportal seeks to encourage a multi-disciplinary approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care through easier access to learning activities, engagement with other professionals and the formation of networks and communities of practice.

Pain series from The Conversation

The Conversation has recently published a series of articles by academics, scientists and other experts about various aspects of pain. They are clearly explained with lots of links back to the evidence.

The right words matter when talking about pain from Michael Vagg (Barwon Health) explains how to talk to people about pain and how sometimes the use of cliches can make their pain worse.

What dictates how much pain you feel after injury? by Malcolm Hogg (University of Melbourne) explains how education levels and other social factors can effect how much pain people feel and how long it lasts.

Not helping a partner with chronic pain may be the quickest road to recovery is from Toby Newton-John (University of Technology Sydney), who writes that partners who do everything for the chronic pain sufferer may actually be hindering their recovery.

Pain drain: the economic and social costs of chronic pain by Christopher Williams (University of Newcastle) discusses our neglect of effective pain management and how this leads to an increased economic and social burden.

Psychiatric evaluation of adults - updated US guidelines

The American Psychiatric Association has released the third, updated edition of its Practice guidelines for the psychiatric evaluation of adults. 9 separate guideline modules cover:

• Review of Psychiatric Symptoms, Trauma History, and Psychiatric Treatment History
• Substance Use Assessment
• Suicide Risk Assessment
• Assessment of Risk for Aggressive Behaviors
• Assessment of Cultural Factors
• Assessment of Medical Health
• Quantitative Assessment
• Involvement of the Patient in Treatment Decisions
• Documentation of the Psychiatric Evaluation

Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in Australian public hospitals 2014-15: Australian hospital statistics (18 Dec 2015)

Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in Australian public hospitals 2014-15: Australian hospital statistics.

In 2014-15, 1,490 cases of hospital-associated Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) were reported in Australian public hospitals. The national rate of SAB in public hospitals was 0.77 cases per 10,000 days of patient care, and all states and territories had rates below the national benchmark of 2.0 cases per 10,000 days of patient care.

Between 2010-11 and 2014-1 5, rates of SAB decreased from 1.10 cases to 0.77 cases per 10,000 days of patient care.

View the media release and download the full report.

Health expenditure Australia 2013-14: analysis by sector (AIHW)

Health expenditure Australia 2013-14: analysis by sector extends the analysis presented in Health expenditure Australia 2013-14 to further explore expenditure on particular categories of health goods and services.

In 2013-14, $58.8 billion was spent on hospitals in Australia, $54.7 billion on primary health care and $32.0 billion on other health goods and services.

A further $9.1 billion was spent on capital expenditure. Unreferred medical services attracted the highest share of primary health care funding in 2013-14, at 19.3%. This is different to earlier in the decade, when benefit-paid pharmaceuticals attracted the most spending from 2008-09 to 2011-12. Growth in expenditure on benefit-paid pharmaceuticals slowed in the last 3 years compared with the rest of the decade. This slower growth in expenditure was in contrast to a steady increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed over the same period.

View the media release and download the full report.

Breast Cancer Survivorship Care Guideline

The Breast Cancer Survivorship Care Guideline is advice from the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology to help doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals provide care for breast cancer survivors who have finished cancer treatment. The cancer survivorship care guideline addresses issues that can occur in breast cancer survivors after their treatment.

* Starting at diagnosis and until the end of treatment, patients with breast cancer receive most of their health care from specialists such as a surgeon, medical or radiation oncologist, etc. Once treatment is finished, most of the medical care for these patients will be provided by their primary care clinician.
* Breast cancer occurs mostly in older women, and many of them have other health issues that are treated by primary care clinicians.
* Problems can be caused by the cancer or by the treatments. It is possible for side effects or complications to go on or even occur after treatment is complete. Here are some examples:

* ○ Numbness or discomfort in the hands and feet (neuropathy).
* ○ Swelling in the arm, breast, or chest wall (lymphedema).
* ○ Early menopause; hot flashes.
* ○ Distress, depression, and anxiety.
* ○ Fatigue.
* ○ Thinning of bones (osteoporosis); broken bones.
* ○ Memory issues; difficulty concentrating.
* ○ Body image concerns.

Study finds climate change triggers mental health problems for farmers

A study has found that farmers' mental health is being negatively impacted as weather patterns become more erratic and unpredictable.

Over a two-year period, Murdoch University post doctorate associate Neville Ellis interviewed 22 farmers from the Wheatbelt town of Newdegate, in Western Australia's Great Southern, about how they were responding emotionally and psychologically to climate change.

Mr Ellis specifically chose the Wheatbelt because it is one of the most climate change-affected parts of Australia, having lost 20 per cent of its winter rainfall since the 1970s.

See more at:

Mental health workers to join police on call-outs in world-first trial

Health workers will join police on call-outs to 'de-escalate' mental health emergencies in a world-first attempt to decriminalise' mental illness in WA.

Nurses, social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists will get police response training, and 20 police officers will get training in recognising and defusing mental health-related situations, for the trial to start next month.

Each team of one senior clinician and two officers will travel in an unmarked car to peak-time call-outs to deliver emergency mental health care in an effort to curb the flood of mentally ill people into emergency departments and courtrooms.

Read more:

Wellbeing works

A unique exhibition has opened in Smithton, promoting the benefits of art as therapy for positive mental health.

The ‘Rural Art Roadshow: Promoting Positive Mental Health in Rural Communities’ was launched at Time Out on Emmett on Tuesday night.

The roadshow forms part of the University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) 125th anniversary celebrations, and is a collaboration between MI Fellowship and the UTAS Centre for Rural Health. Managing the project is Centre for Rural Health’s Heather Bridgman. “The project came about with the recognition that particularly in rural communities there’s a lot of stigma and not a lot of access to mental health support services,” Dr Bridgman said.

See more at:

Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14.

The National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) has released the report Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14.

The report finds:

* Nationally there were 600,267 hospitalisations for the 22 conditions for which hospitalisation is considered potentially preventable, representing 6% of the 9.7 million hospital admissions in 2013–14. Hospitalisations from both public and private hospitals are included.

* Potentially preventable hospitalisations accounted for nearly 2.4 million bed days – equivalent to 8% of all public and private hospital bed days in 2013–14.

* The age-standardised rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations was almost three times higher in some PHN areas compared to others, ranging from 1,702 hospitalisations per 100,000 people in Northern Sydney PHN to 4,891 per 100,000 in Northern Territory PHN.

* Across more than 300 local areas (SA3s) the age-standardised rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations were nine times higher in some areas compared to others, ranging from 1,406 per 100,000 people in Pennant Hills-Epping (NSW) to 12,705 hospitalisations per 100,000 in Barkly (NT).

This report is accompanied by an interactive tool allowing users to explore the data in depth for their area and compare with other local communities.

Australia's mothers and babies 2013-in brief (AIHW)

Australia's mothers and babies 2013-in brief presents key statistics and trends from the AIHWs National Perinatal Data Collection.

The report is accompanied by updates to the AIHWs Perinatal data portal, which provides an overview of mothers and babies, maternal demographics, the antenatal period and labour and birth.

View the media release and download the full in brief report

Concerns about whether Closing the gap targets will be reached

A report released by the Productivity Commission this week has raised concerns about whether the Federal Government will meet the Closing the gap targets, which aim to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage.

The report, National Indigenous reform agreement: performance assessment 2013-14 monitors the progress against the Closing the gap targets, which include life expectancy, health, education and employment outcomes.

Improving life expectancy, access to preschool, and reading and numeracy rates aren't showing any change, whilst the employment target has fallen further behind. However, the report shows that good progress has been made in reducing outcomes gaps in child mortality and Year 12 (or equivalent) attainment rates at a national level.

'If we are to see improvements in outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Australians we need to move further into the detail, examining which policies and programs work better than others and why. Our current focus is on settings targets and monitoring outcomes. This must be complemented by evaluation,' said Peter Harris, Chair of the Productivity Commission.

This is the first year the Productivity Commission has produced the National Indigenous reform agreement: performance assessment. The assessment was previously undertaken by the COAG Reform Council.


* View information: National Indigenous reform agreement: performance assessment 2013-14 <>
* View news item: Government will fail to meet five out of six Closing the gap targets: Productivity Commission <>
* View media release: A change in approach is needed to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians <>
* View website: Productivity Commission <>

Asthma Primer: Current Concepts in the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma



Asthma Primer: Current Concepts in the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

This special free issue <> from the journal International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology would be useful for practitioners who diagnose and treat patients with asthma. Subjects covered include epidemiology, risk factors, comorbidities, diagnosis, asthma in children, inhalers and treatment of asthma.

Special Issue: Asthma Primer: Current Concepts in the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma.<> September 2015, Volume 5, Issue S1, Pages S1–S81

Focus on local and flexible mental health services

Tailored, flexible and local mental health services are the focus of the federal government’s mental health reforms.

The reform package announced on Thursday included increased digital delivery of services, a single phone line help service and a shift to integrated care.

The current ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach has been scrapped as people needing complex care services will be eligible to access a package of integrated health services provided through Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

While no more funding was announced, $350 million will be redirected to PHNs, a move supported by the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA).

Read more at:

Emergency service workers to benefit from world-first PTSD treatment guidelines

More than 10% of Australia’s emergency service workers have experienced the debilitating symptoms of PTSD due to their frequent exposure to potentially traumatic experiences

Emergency service workers exposed to traumatic events are set to benefit from the world’s first guidelines to help diagnose and treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

The NSW Minister for Mental Health, Pru Goward, and Minister Emergency Services, David Elliott, have joined industry leaders to launch the Black Dog Institute guidelines.

Developed by 9 leading Australian clinicians and researchers, including 3 UNSW experts, the national guidelines provide evidenced-based protocols for identifying and managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The guidelines also address common and related disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance use.

See more at: