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Message from the CEO

Our weekly newsletters are most often the product of the robust team discussions we have on a daily basis within SARRAH (over Zoom, of course).  I am so fortunate to work with such a talented team who provide a rich working environment and are an awesome think tank.  So the first item of business today is to send a big thank you to our Project Manager, Rhiannon Memery, who wrote last week's newsletter in my absence and continued our theme for July of the role of Allied Health in Chronic Disease.  And our Principal Project Manager Gemma Tuxworth has contributed substantially to this week's content.  It's good to know that SARRAH is in such capable hands!

The most recent advice from MBS data gleaned from our stakeholder meetings with government tells us that people are still avoiding returning to “usual care”, prompting concerns that those living with chronic illness, whose care has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, will more than likely experience a further decline in health.  And as we watch with empathy the predicament of our Victorian colleagues subject to further lockdowns, which could so easily happen elsewhere in Australia, we understand that this situation is likely to persist for some time yet.  With MBS claims continuing to show a decline, it seems that the messages for patients to return to their health professionals to resume their care is not cutting through.  

Perhaps we need to reframe the message.

The risk of moderate to severe illness from COVID-19 is greater for individuals with chronic disease. So, perhaps right now, in an effort to stay well in our current environment, people with chronic diseases should be engaging in “pre-exposure conditioning” or, undertaking COVID-19 ‘prehabilitation’.

I admit to using these phrases with a certain amount of tongue in cheek, as there is currently no evidence of a direct relationship between prehabilitation and improved COVID-19 outcomes, but bear with me. Preparing the body for upcoming physiological stress caused by illness (or surgery) involves taking pre-emptive steps to optimise physical and psychological health. For many this may look like seeking assessments and treatments from their health professional; smoking cessation, exercise, improved nutrition and stress reduction. For many this equates with better managing their chronic diseases; in conjunction with their multidisciplinary health care team that includes allied health professionals. 

It seems that now, more than ever, people living with chronic illness have clear reasons to take control of their condition in order to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in the event they are exposed.  Public media campaigns could be harnessing this approach to find ways to motivate the community to manage their health proactively during the pandemic.  Now, more than ever, the government must support people to access the services they need to minimise the impact of COVID-related and non-COVID illness.  This includes reviewing access to MBS items for relevant services, and preparing health services to deliver higher levels of post-acute and sub-acute care for people recovering from illness.

Right now, patients, health care professionals and policy and decision makers are very engaged with COVID-19 particularly as the virus resurges in various parts of the community. Could viewing chronic diseases through a COVID-19 lens refocus attention on prevention and management, and further the agenda?

More needs to be done to address the impacts of chronic disease, especially in rural and remote Australia where the burden of disease is higher. Allied health professionals are an essential and underutilised resource across the spectrum – from health promotion to management - of chronic disease.  Greater investment in the allied health workforce will ultimately help people live longer, healthier lives - and perhaps another benefit will be to boost resilience and afford some protection against future physiological stress, whatever the cause. 

Stay well everyone,


Save Social Work Petition
The government’s recent overhaul of the university fee system last month has resulted in some unintended consequences, including a significant increase in course fees for those wishing to study Social Work.
Social Workers are vital members of the multidisciplinary team, undertaking roles in casework, counselling, advocacy, community engagement and development and social action to address both personal and social issues. They provide invaluable assistance to patients and families during times of crisis, helping the family navigate their way through difficult circumstances to make best decisions for everyone involved.  Particularly at a time when communities are experiencing so much grief and trauma, we need to ensure we have enough Social Workers around to help individuals and families get back on their feet.
As an Allied Health discipline, we believe that Social Work should be included in the same group as other Allied Health professions that have seen a reduction in course fees.  If you feel the same way, please follow this link to the “Save Social Work” web page and sign the petition, which is supported by the Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work.
Contribute to the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals Review Process
The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals- CARPA Standard Treatment Manual, Minymaku Kutja Tjukurpa - Women’s Business Manual, Clinical Procedures Manual for remote and rural practice and Medicines Book for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are used across Australia to guide and support the provision of high quality, evidence-based care to people living in rural and remote areas. RPHCM are calling for contributions to the project which are voluntary and are supported by a small project team to reduce the burden of administrative tasks and improve the efficiency of processes. The project review team is keen to invite organisations and individual users of the manuals to collaborate in the review process. Further information can be found here.
Clinical Care Standards Survey
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care develops clinical care standards to support the delivery of appropriate care. This survey is being carried out to help evaluate three clinical care standards: Antimicrobial Stewardship, Delirium, and Hip Fracture Care. You are invited to complete the survey if you are a healthcare professional or work for a health organisation that provides care to people with delirium or hip fracture or that involves antimicrobial treatment. The answers will help inform the Commission about the impact of these clinical care standards and how they could be improved. The survey will take about 5 minutes to complete (slightly longer if you choose to share your views on more than one clinical care standard). Further information and the survey can be found here.
Free SARRAH Webinar - Allied Health Utilisation Findings from the Crossroads-II Study

Rural communities are distinctly different from urban communities, and from each other. Health services need to be tailored to each community. 'One size fits all' solutions are unlikely to be effective. On Tuesday 28 July 2pm (AEST), SARRAH will be hosting a free webinar presented by Dr Kristen Glenister.

Data from studies like Crossroads-II can be used to advocate for additional allied health services to meet the needs of rural communities. Findings from Crossroads-I were used to advocate for increased numbers of allied health professionals from one at a particular rural hospital to 11 at the time of Crossroads-II.

Allied health utilisation results from the Crossroads-II study capture allied health services subsidised by Medicare or private health insurance, as well as services paid for 'out of pocket', and thus provides a unique insight. For example; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures for 2017-2018 report that 3% of Australians received Medicare subsidised physiotherapy services in that financial year, whereas 18% of Crossroads-II respondents had received physiotherapy services in the past 12 months, likely via Medicare subsidy, private health insurance or paid 'out of pocket'.

Registration for this webinar can be found here.

Rural Locum Assistance Program Extended
Rural Locum Assistance Program has approval to continue supporting rural and remote health services with vacant positions during COVID-19. The Australian Government Department of Health extends support of vacant positions until 30 September 2020. Further information can be found here:
Department of Veteran Affairs Latest Articles
‘Misleading advertising about veteran healthcare by third-party organisations’ - Veterans and their families are being advised to avoid engaging with misleading advertisements by third-party referral organisations, about veteran healthcare. 
‘Allied health treatment cycle arrangement continue during pandemic’ - The allied health treatment cycle arrangements for DVA clients continues to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
‘Provisional Access to Medical Treatment trial for veterans’ - While their claim is being considered, eligible claimants will be able to receive medical and allied health treatment on a provisional basis for one or more of the 20 most commonly accepted conditions for ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). 
Hearing services for your DVA patient - Access the latest information about hearing services available to veterans, including a free brochure that health providers can order. 
DVA advises veterans to contact GP for healthcare options during pandemic - DVA clients have been advised to continue accessing health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to contact their usual General Practitioner (GP) to discuss the options available to them. 
Other News
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare have this week released the latest two-yearly report card on the health of Australians the Nation’s health report - Australia's Health 2020. The AIHW Report shows Australians are doing better than most other western nations, including in life expectancy, lower mortality rates for coronary disease and colon cancer and falling smoking rates. However, the same cannot be said for overweight and obesity rates, which for Australian adults is significantly higher than the average for developed nations.  So too, data show that people living in rural and remote areas have higher rates of hospitalisations, deaths, injury and also have poorer access to, and use of, primary health care services, than people living in Major cities, which is a familiar story for our readers.
SARRAH Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how we do business and highlighted how allied health can adapt to thrive. An Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway grant can support you in recruiting or retaining an early career professional to future-proof your business by capability in emerging areas like telehealth. The overarching goal of the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway strategy (AHRGP strategy) is to improve health outcomes for rural and remote consumers through increasing access to a highly skilled allied health workforce and enhancing opportunities for multi-disciplinary care in rural healthcare teams. Applying is simple and will help you put the right foot forward in this new era. Visit to learn more and apply.
Current Job Vacancies

Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist - Darwin
A fantastic opportunity is available in Darwin for an experienced, enthusiastic Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist to join our friendly and supportive multi-disciplinary team. You will have postgraduate experience in either OT or PT with experience in seating and assistive technology and some experience in staff supervision and program development. Read more here.

Community Speech Pathologist - Rural Generalist 
LTTS is a locally owned and operated business that offers assessments and therapy, paediatric services, and community services to a wide range of clients. LTTS are seeking suitably qualified professional Speech Pathologists to join our dynamic team and help the successful candidate toward becoming a rural generalist, by supporting them to commence the allied health rural generalist pathway. Read more here.

Community Psychologist (Rural Generalist) - Remote/Rural Queensland
LTTS is a locally owned and operated business that offers assessments and therapy, paediatric services, and community services to a wide range of clients that include Educational groups, Community based groups, Disability groups and Aged Care groups.  LTTS is excited to help the successful candidate toward becoming a rural generalist, by supporting them to commence the allied health rural generalist pathway. Read more here.

Occupational Therapist - Allied Health Rural Generalist Position - Albury NSW
My Word Speech Therapy is expanding their service to include Occupational Therapy services and have an exciting new position that includes training in rural allied health. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to participate in the Allied Health Rural Generalist Workforce and Education Scheme. For more information, follow the link to our website.

Physiotherapist – Katherine Physio - Katherine
Rural Workforce Agency Northern Territory (RWA NT) are partnering with Katherine Physio to find a Physiotherapist to join their passionate Katherine based team. Katherine Physio is a community based practice who work hard to educate their patients on their condition and empower them with the tools to assist self-management. For more information visit our website.

SARRAH Telehealth Community of Practice

As remote working becomes the new norm, telehealth is more popular than ever. SARRAH is ready to support allied health professionals navigate telehealth. To find further info or join our SARRAH Telehealth Community of Practice email or visit our dedicated telehealth resource page here.

Upcoming Events and conferences 

OT Exchange 2020
22-23 June 2020
Online Conference
HIC 2020
19-21 October 2020
Brisbane, QLD
21st International Mental Health Conference
12-14 November 2020
RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, QLD
Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference
25 - 27 November 2020
Mantra Legends, Gold Coast
Associations Forum National Conference
30 November - 1 December 2020
Royal International Convention Centre, Brisbane
The 2020 Workplace Mental Health Symposium
Hilton, Brisbane, QLD1
7th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium:
Shaping the future

Alice Springs Convention Centre, NT
Copyright © 2018 Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH). All rights reserved.

Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health
Unit 4, 17 Napier Close, Deakin, ACT, 2600

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