April - May 2021

Latest News

Tell us MORE about Dementia in Gippsland PHN survey

A survey to allow people to tell us about their experiences with dementia in Gippsland will help Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN) to better understand their health needs.

In Gippsland, dementia is the second most common cause of death for women and the sixth most common cause of death for males. It is estimated that around 6,000 people are currently living with dementia and that is expected to rise to around 22,000 people by 2050.
To improve our understanding of what it is like to live with dementia, Gippsland PHN worked with Monash University to interview 26 people in 2020. We spoke to people living with dementia, their family and carers and professionals. We learnt that people with dementia and their family and carers often do not have their health needs met.
We heard that people living with dementia can feel confused, frustrated and embarrassed and that it can be hard to access needed care. Carers and family members told us that navigating the system is challenging and the carer role is essential but very demanding. Professionals described a model of care that makes person centered care difficult and waiting times prevent people from staying in their own home.

Read the summary findings here.

Hearing from more people in a survey will help us work on what is most needed. A summary of dementia services in Gippsland for non-professionals was also developed. See it here.

We would like to hear from:

• people living with a dementia diagnosis and people worried about their memory or thinking
• family and carers of people with dementia
• professionals who provide services and support for people with dementia.

Summary information will be included in the ongoing Gippsland PHN Health Needs Assessment.

Please go to the Tell Gippsland PHN website and click on Dementia to read the Explanatory Statement before accessing the survey here.

You can also phone (03) 5175 5444 to be sent a paper copy of the survey and report.
Please help us promote the survey using a flyer or request paper copies and reply paid envelopes by calling (03) 5175 5444.


Gippsland PHN supports health services in remote patient monitoring of patients with chronic disease

Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN) is supporting regional health services to implement remote patient monitoring for patients with chronic disease.
The project is supported by a digital health platform Lifeguard which helps to connect patients with their health care provider in real time.
The model of care for remote patient monitoring enables patients to report on not only vital signs but also symptoms related to their chronic disease. The information reported gives health professionals the ability to detect early deterioration, enabling early intervention.  
In partnership with Royal Flying Doctors Service Victoria, Gippsland PHN is implementing a targeted project in Far East Gippsland. Gippsland PHN is also supporting general practices to implement this innovative program across Gippsland.
For further information, please contact Alyce Cuman, Manager Digital Health and Integration, by emailing

#ScreenForMe - community celebration to raise awareness of cancer screening

Two years after its inception, Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN) is relaunching the #ScreenForMe campaign to raise community awareness of cancer screening.

The campaign’s presence within the community was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, so what better way to relaunch #ScreenForMe than with a public celebration.

The #ScreenForMe relaunch community event will be held at the Moe Library on 12 May 2021 from 12.30pm. Join us to celebrate the campaign’s second birthday ànd launch Phase 2 of the #ScreenForMe campaign, I’ve #Screened For Me.  Special guest speakers will include inspiring screening advocates, Kellie O’Callaghan and Donna Faulkner. 

#ScreenForMe aims to empower the community to make a difference by encouraging their friends and family to be proactive in looking after their health by screening for breast, bowel and cervical cancer. Phase 2 of the campaign takes this approach one step further.

I’ve #Screened For Me encourages local people who have screened to share their experience with the broader community to encourage others to participate in cancer screening. Anyone that regularly screens for breast, bowel or cervical cancer is well placed to influence others to screen for cancer and we welcome them to become an I’ve #Screened For Me Screening Advocate.

Screening Advocates can share their cancer screening stories in many ways;

  • With Gippsland PHN as part of the Screening Advocates program
  • By starting a conversation with friends and family about the importance of screening and early detection
  • Being proud they have screened and shared the #I’veScreenedForMe message online

A number of Screening Advocates have already shared their cancer screening stories with Gippsland PHN and these short films will be showcased at the relaunch community event.

#ScreenForMe is such a unique program in that it features local community members of all ages asking their loved ones to ‘Screen For Me’ and now, as Screening Advocates, their story can potentially help save the life of someone they might not even know.

#ScreenForMe is part of an innovative three-year project designed to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of Latrobe Valley residents. Funded by the Victorian Government as part of the Latrobe Health Innovation Zone, and managed by Gippsland PHN, the project works with the community and local health providers to help increase participation in screening for preventable cancers.


Wellington community welcomes headspace Sale

Pictured above are two of the headspace Sale staff welcoming guests to the official opening of the centre.

Community leaders, headspace staff, service providers and local young people gathered on Tuesday 13 April 2021 to celebrate the official opening of a new headspace site in Sale.
headspace Sale provides support for mental health, work and study, and alcohol and other drugs to young people aged 12-25 years in the Wellington Shire. The site has capacity for a general practitioner to provide services on-location. It is anticipated that a GP will be located on site in a part-time capacity in the near future.
headspace Sale is operated by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) with support from contract manager, Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN) and a consortium of 11 local service providers.
RAV has been providing community mental health support services in Gippsland and across Victoria for many years and is also the lead agency for the existing headspace services in Bairnsdale and Wonthaggi.
Gippsland PHN Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Proposch, said the official opening of the new site was a welcome addition to services in the Wellington community.
Ms Proposch said the coronavirus pandemic had created a stressful and uncertain time for many young people. “Support is vital and we know young people in Wellington have been reaching out to headspace," Ms Proposch said.
“Since opening, initially through telehealth and online, and then face-to-face with the easing of coronavirus restrictions, headspace Sale has been embraced by many young people in our community.”

Read the media release about the event below:

Media release

People reach out to HeadtoHelp in Gippsland

The number of Victorians seeking mental health support grew by more than half during the last week of March, new call records from the HeadtoHelp support line show.

In Gippsland, there are two HeadtoHelp Hubs in Wellington and Baw Baw as well as four satellite centres at Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale, Traralgon and Leongatha supported by Gippsland Primary Health Network.
Since September 2020, Gippsland HeadtoHelp centres have received 1307 calls to the 1800 number. Since January 2021, there have been 680 calls to 1800 number, resulting in 456 referrals to services.

Read the full media release below:

Media release

It’s not too late to provide your referral information for Gippsland HealthPathways

Are you an allied Health service provider? We invite occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians and mental health service providers in Gippsland to register with HealthPathways.
HealthPathways Gippsland offers clinical and referral pathways and resources for use by healthcare professionals at the point of care.
It’s simple and easy to register your services with Gippsland HealthPathways just complete this online form and your services will be listed on our new referral pages. 
If you would like to know more please email or register here to login today.

GP Snapshots: COVID-19 – utilising near real-time electronic general practice data to establish effective care and best-practice policy

Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN) is involved in a research project with Macquarie University, Outcome Health, Eastern Melbourne, South Eastern Melbourne, Central and Eastern Sydney and South Western Sydney Primary Health Networks and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Programs in a Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre.
The project titled 'COVID-19 – utilising near real-time electronic General Practice data to establish effective care and best-practice policy' uses an innovative secure and comprehensive digital health platform, Population Level Analysis & Reporting (POLAR) to:
  • Generate near real-time reports to identify emerging trends related to COVID-19, its diagnosis, treatment and medications prescribed, and its impact on patients.
  • Monitor the impact of interventions/policy decisions.
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 1 - Telehealth
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 1 – Telehealth
This snapshot provides some key comparative findings related to the utilisation of GP telehealth (telephone and video) services across participating Primary Health Networks in NSW and Victoria. It also draws out important implications of the findings, particularly as they relate to patients, general practice and the community. Implications include:
  • Drop in face-to-face consultations and uptake of telehealth by video or phone service was greater in Victoria than in NSW; and,
  • The uptake of phone consultations was substantially higher than the uptake of video consultations.
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 2 - Telehealth
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 2 – Telehealth
This snapshot provides some key comparative findings related to differences in telehealth (phone and video) uptake based on demographic factors, including age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), and regionality across participating Primary Health Networks in NSW and Victoria. It also draws out important implications of the findings, particularly as they relate to patients, general practice and the community. Implications include: 
  • Females had a greater proportion of their consultations via telehealth services than males;
  • Face to face was highest in children and adolescents; and,
  • Telehealth uptake was lower in low/mid SES groups.
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 3 - Pathology
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 3 – Pathology
This snapshot aims to quantify the impact of the pandemic on pathology testing in general practice by comparing test volumes before, during and after the first and second waves in participating NSW and Victorian PHNs. Implications include:
  • During the first wave, pathology testing volume decreased by 33% in Victoria and 29% in NSW; and,
  • In Victoria across weeks 10-40, pathology testing fell by 26% for women and 29% for those aged 65+.
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 4 - Residential Aged Care Facilities
COVID-19  GP Snapshot 4 – RACFs
This snapshot reports on the patterns of GP consultations in RACFs during the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to identify areas for quality improvement in this vulnerable population. Implications include:
  • GP in-person visits to the RACFs in the Victorian PHNs decreased considerably in 2020 as compared to 2019, particularly in May (-24%), July (-20%), and the second lockdown in August (-37%).
  • Telehealth has played an important role in supporting the delivery of GP services in RACFs during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a much higher uptake of telehealth (up to 30%) among the Victorian general practices.
COVID-19 GP Snapshot 5 - Diabetes
COVID-19  GP Snapshot 5 – Diabetes
This snapshot examines the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on diabetes care in Australian general practice, by looking at patients with type 2 diabetes using: (a) the volume of HbA1c tests conducted during this period as an indicator of care/access to care; and (b) HbA1c levels as an indicator of glycaemic control. Implications include: 
  • The total volumes of HbA1c testing during the weeks of the first wave of COVID-19 (approximately 10th – 20th weeks) decreased by 19.1% (5,962 vs 7,103 tests) in NSW and 25.6% (8,439 vs 10,596 tests) in Victoria, compared to the average volume of 2018-2019.
  • Approximately 14 – 15% of patients who had records of HbA1c testing in both 2018 and 2019 (n=22,804 in Victoria, n=15,399 in NSW) did not have HbA1c testing in 2020 (15.3% (n=3,492) in Victoria, 14.1% (n=2,173) in NSW).
Future snapshots will deal with areas related to mental health and cancer screening.
If you have any questions related to these snapshots or would like further details about the project, please contact Macquarie University’s Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research (CHSSR) at


International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia

Monday, 17 May, is a significant date in the LGBTIQ+ worldwide calendar – International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia – affectionately known as IDAHOBIT Day.

IDAHOBIT Day is a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities and is a stance against discrimination in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) mates, colleagues and family members.

This day also reassures our LGBTIQ+ community that they are valued and welcome, regardless of whether they choose to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The theme for this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” The theme was chosen due to the recent challenges the world has faced this past year.

People everywhere are encouraged to stop for a moment on 17 May and consider the importance of this day; to think about your LGBTIQ+ friends, colleagues and our communities across not only Gippsland but the world.

Ensuring people in Gippsland have access to appropriate and inclusive services is a strategic priority for Gippsland PHN.


• This celebration was created in 2004 and now represents an annual landmark to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ+ people internationally.
• In under a decade, 17 May has established itself as the single most important date for LGBTIQ+ communities to mobilise on a worldwide scale. The date is now celebrated in more than 130 countries.
• 17 May was specifically chosen as IDAHOBIT Day to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

For more information and resources, go to

Reframing children's mental health

The words we use make a difference. Research shows that child mental health experts and practitioners working with children, parents/adults and families have different understandings about children’s mental health.

The FrameWorks Institute and the Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health (NWC) say how we communicate our messages is key to bridging this gap.

A toolkit has been developed for this purpose. It is based on research about how practitioners understand children’s mental health, and how their understanding impacts their support for policies to promote better mental health outcomes for Australia’s children.

It is intended to support child mental health experts and organisations who communicate about children’s mental health to create messages that resonate and inspire positive change.

The toolkit is freely available and you are invited to visit, explore and share it with your colleagues. Use it as a resource to spread the word about the importance of promoting positive children’s mental health.

Access the toolkit here. More about Emerging Minds. More about the FrameWorks Institute.


Applications for 2021 World Hepatitis Day Grants are now open

World Hepatitis Day is recognised by the World Health Organisation each year on 28 July as a chance to raise awareness of hepatitis and in 2021, the global theme is ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’.
 LiverWELL is committed to collaborating with communities and workforce to address the urgency needed to take action around liver health and viral hepatitis.
It is inviting community and not-for-profit organisations to apply for a grant of up to $1000 to provide events and activities which increase awareness and engagement with World Hepatitis Day, especially among communities affected by viral hepatitis and liver disease.
LiverWell is looking for innovative ideas that keep the safety of your community in mind. Further information can be found here
If you have any questions or would like an offline application form, you can contact
Grant applications close at 5pm on 4 June  - apply now

Aspergers Victoria runs support groups and events for the community

Aspergers Victoria is a small not-for-profit organisation supporting Victorians who have Aspergers, autism or other similar neurodiverse profiles.
It runs support groups and events for the community to help them feel connected, supported, and empowered to live the life they want for themselves.
Due to COVID-19, many of its groups and events are now running online as well as in-person, which makes them much more easily accessible to Aspergers and autistic individuals and their supporters from all over Victoria, interstate, and even internationally.
See the May calendar of events here.


World Asthma Day - Uncovering the asthma myths

World Asthma Day was marked yesterday, 5 May 2021 and is held annually by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to bring global awareness to all people affected by asthma.

Asthma is of global public health importance affecting more than 339 million people worldwide (including 2.7 million Australians).

This year’s theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. The theme provides a call to action to address common widely held myths and misconceptions which can impact the health and day to day lives of people with asthma.

GINA found that globally the most common asthma misconceptions included:
  1. Myth: Asthma is a childhood disease; individuals will grow out of it as they age.
    Truth: Asthma can occur at any age
  2. Myth: Asthma is infectious.
    Truth: Asthma is not infectious. Viral respiratory infections can cause asthma.
  3. Myth: Asthma sufferers should not exercise.
    Truth: When asthma is well controlled, you can exercise and perform top sport.
  4. Myth: Asthma is only controllable with high dose steroids.
    Truth: Asthma is most often controlled with low dose steroids.
In support, Asthma Australia has undertaken a local investigation to uncover the great asthma misconception affecting Australians with asthma and ways to debunk it. It received an overwhelming response from the asthma community to find the ‘Great Aussie Asthma Myth’ which is:

Myth: You need to have a wheeze for it to be asthma 
Truth: Many people don’t experience wheeze as a symptom but still have asthma 

Find out more about World Asthma Day and ‘Busting the Great Aussie Myth’ at
Hazelwood Health Study compared Morwell adults with asthma who were exposed to the mine fire smoke with Sale adults with asthma who were not exposed and found no differences in asthma-related symptoms or severity, lung function or airway inflammation when measured three and a half years later. However, there was some evidence that adults with asthma from Morwell had poorer asthma control.

Information from the Gippsland PHN Needs Assessment 2019-22:
  • The proportion of persons reporting asthma is high in Bass Coast (14%) and Wellington (14%).
  • Admission rates to hospital due to asthma and related respiratory conditions for 3-19-year olds is high in Baw Baw and Latrobe.
  • Admission rates to hospital due to asthma for 20-44-year olds is high in East Gippsland and Latrobe.
  • Admission rates to hospital due to asthma and COPD for people aged 45 years and over is high in Wellington.
  • Prescribing rates for asthma medications for 3-19-year olds is high in Baw Baw, Latrobe and Wellington.
  • Prescribing rates for asthma medications for 20-44-year olds is high in Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe and Wellington.
  • Prescribing rates for asthma and COPD medications for people aged 45 years and older is high in Latrobe.


Welcome to the Research Hub

Gippsland Primary Health Network’s vision is a measurably healthier Gippsland.

This section of our LINK newsletter provides articles on research being undertaken by Gippsland PHN and in collaboration with other organisations that are contributing to this vision. It will also feature research and studies from outside our region which may be of interest to our stakeholders.

For all things ‘research’ related, please email

Digital health interventions and sleep management

You are invited to participate in a study that aims to explore the perspectives and experiences of primary care professionals (general practitioners, nurses and pharmacists) on the implementation of digital health interventions and sleep management.

Primary care professionals can provide valuable information on how digital health interventions can be implemented into their clinical practice to facilitate better health care for patients. 
This study involves an online survey which takes max. 8 minutes to complete. As reimbursement you will be offered to enter into a draw to win a $200 Visa gift card. 

You will also be invited to complete a 30-40 minute remote semi-structured interview. This interview will further explore your experiences and perceptions of digital health interventions, reimbursed with a $50 gift card.
If you are able to:
  • Complete the survey, please visit
  • Participate in the semi-structured interview, please contact the research team on the details below.
In addition to Part A, you may also wish to participate in Part B to trial a novel mobile application for insomnia patients. If you are interested, please contact us at or 0423906086. 


General practitioners invited to participate in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease survey

Investigators from Monash University are conducting a RACGP-funded national survey of general practitioners regarding the management of patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD.

Acute exacerbations of COPD are a leading cause of hospitalisation, with a substantial proportion of cases being potentially preventable. GPs are invited to complete a short survey that aims to better understand current practice and unmet needs in order to optimise care for these patients.

All eligible participants who complete the survey will have the chance to win one of two $250 gift vouchers and anyone who opts in (and is selected) for a follow-up qualitative interview will receive a $250 gift voucher.  

The survey can be accessed by clicking HERE.   

The survey has been approved by the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC ref. 26571). If you have any queries, please contact Dr Bianca Perera at or Dr Chris Barton at or Dr Christian Osadnik (Principal investigator) at


Join the General Practice Circle and help shape future cancer research

Are you a practice manager, general practitioner or practice nurse? Looking for a great opportunity for collaborating in the primary care in cancer space?

If so, you can join the General Practice Circle and help shape future cancer research

The Primary Care Collaborative Cancer Clinical (PC4) Trials Group’s  General Practice Circle (GP Circle) is a group of GPs, practice managers and practice nurses interested in sharing their clinical insight and experience to help PC4 members develop new research.

The GP Circle ensures its research has a strong clinical focus that generates outcomes which benefit cancer patients and health care professionals working in primary care. If you are interested you can find out more information and apply here.

The PC4 Scientific Symposium is fast approaching with key speakers Professor Bob Thomas and Susan Anderson. You can register here.


PhD project: Recovery after hip fracture

This PhD project, 'Recovery after hip fracture',  aims to explore the experiences of recovery for persons and or their significant others after hip fracture in Australia, as well as advanced practice nurses who care for people post hip fracture.

The research requires participation in a 1:1 interview via phone or online meeting (approximately 30 - 60mins). Participants will have the opportunity to go into a draw to win a $100 gift voucher in recognition of their time and contribution to the research project.

If you would like to participate or require further information please contact 
Sharon Allsop PhD student on 0493101490 or email

Workshop - How Culture Influences Dementia: Implications for Care

Half-Day Workshop

Friday 28 May 2021, 9.30am-12pm (Via Zoom)

Nearly 30 per cent of older Australians are from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background.

The integration of culture into the Australian Aged Care Quality Standards and across several recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety means that all providers have an obligation to provide culturally safe and appropriate care. This is no easy task given the increasing health and cultural complexities of Australia’s older populations.

This evidence-based highly interactive workshop will focus on:
  • The challenges and opportunities for services given the changing demographic profile of Australia's older population
  • How to negotiate diverse cultural understandings of dementia and care
  • How to communicate with culturally diverse families about dementia
  • How to access resources
Cost: $100 per person (excluding GST)

Who should attend?
  • Staff working in the community, hospital or residential aged care settings
  • People who are new to the field of aged care and care for older people
  • Staff working with older people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds

A/Prof Bianca Brijnath - Social Gerontology Divisional Director, NARI
Dr Josefine Antoniades - Research Fellow, NARI

Click here to register.


Newspaper article: 'Kids health at risk from seeing abuse'

Children exposed to family violence from infancy are up to three times more likely to develop asthma and have a psychiatric diagnosis, emotional behavioural difficulties or impaired language by the age of 10.
These are some of the grim findings from a decade-long study led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, which documented the experiences of more than 1500 first time Victorian mothers.

Read this article below from about the findings, published in The Age digital edition, 22 April.
Article from The Age
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