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In this edition:
  • A call for facilitated access to allied health services for bushfire-affected communities
  • Links and contacts for health professionals wishing to support victims of the bushfires
  • Expressions of Interest in a telehealth forum
 Message from the CEO

Words will never be enough to express the devastation I feel as I watch the ongoing bushfire disaster unfold around us.  But I am also in awe of the efforts of our regular and volunteer fire services, and of the generous nature of everyday people to pitch in and help in whatever way we can.  Because whether we are on the front line or not, we’re all in this together, we are all feeling the loss - of lives, homes, livelihoods, and our unique natural habitat.
 
It is gratifying to see efforts being made to organise services to meet the current needs of bushfire-affected communities.  The Department of Health has coordinated a range of responses to address the immediate needs of communities (see contact details below).  But what will happen in the months ahead, when the real impact of these fires begins to emerge?  What access will those affected by the bushfires have to the healthcare services they will need to recover effectively?  Support will be required for months, if not years, and rural GPs will need the support of comprehensive multidisciplinary services locally to manage the health needs of bushfire-affected communities.
 
As a physio who worked most of my clinical career in rural NSW, I observed that when the going gets tough, people express their internal distress in many and varied ways.  The stoic farmer who presents to the clinic with his niggly back or gammy knee will often harbour anxious thoughts about other things that are going on in his life.  It’s as though the physical complaint is a more “acceptable” way of expressing emotional distress.  As allied health professionals we are trained to pick up on these cues, and we use our close connections with general practitioners, psychologists, and a multidisciplinary network of services, to ensure the person in distress has access to the right care. 
 
This is what a robust primary health care system should look like.  There should be multiple entry points to a range of linked-up services available through the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS), where participating service providers understand and have access to the healthcare pathways relevant for the person presenting to them.
 
Public access to allied health services in primary healthcare settings is constrained by the limited items available through the MBS and the high cost of private health insurance (PHI).  Out-of-pocket expenses, whether these are co-payments for MBS items or gap payments associated with PHI rebates, are a significant barrier to accessing essential primary healthcare services, especially in rural and remote communities that are of lower socioeconomic status.  Out-of-pocket expenses can deter people from seeking care, affecting their long term health and potentially leading to higher future health care costs.  Primary Health Care reforms presently under consultation will not happen fast enough to meet community needs.  Governments need to put contingencies in place now to support the health and well-being of bushfire-affected Australians.  This might look like special, time-limited MBS items or vouchers for people affected by bushfires and firefighters to access allied health services as the need arises. This could be several months down the line. 
 
SARRAH has been putting heads together with members and with partner organisations to identify practical supports for affected communities.  While we are a small organisation we can work with government to raise awareness about what is needed to facilitate recovery, and connect people to strengthen our community’s response to the ongoing bushfire disaster. We would be very keen to hear about initiatives happening in your neighbourhood to support local communities.  If your practice has been directly impacted by the fires, we would value hearing your story to raise awareness of what is needed to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.  You can contact me directly by contacting the national office on 02 6285 4960 or emailing me at Catherine@sarrah.org.au
 
Stay safe,
Cath
Links for Health professionals seeking to volunteer to support health care in bushfire-affected communities

The Federal Government has put in place emergency protocols to expedite the process of getting GPs and allied health workers to bushfire-affected communities where they are needed most.

The Department of Health and Department of Human Services will prioritise all applications from health professionals who want to work in bushfire-affected communities.Doctors who are unrestricted in where they can work, and allied health professionals, can work at a new practice for up to two weeks using their existing Medicare provider number. 

Health professionals wishing to offer support to bushfire affected areas should contact their relevant Rural Workforce Agency (RWA):

People wishing to provide supplies and assistance are advised to direct their enquiries to the relevant state government.  Financial donations are preferred at this point, as services have been overwhelmed with donated clothing and household goods.  Donations can be directed to the relevant organisation in their state:

  • The Victorian Bushfire Appeal;
  • The NSW Fire Service; or 
  • The State Emergency Relief Fund (SA)
Bushfire smoke and air quality - helpful information

As bushfires continue to burn in multiple states, the exposure of communities to bushfire smoke is unprecedented.  The Centre for Air pollution, energy and health Research (CAR) is a National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Australia. They have produced a fact sheet  focusing on the impacts of bushfire and other landscape fire smoke on health.  This can be found on SARRAH's website here.

The Emergency Services Agency (ACT) has some helpful advice regarding P2/N95 masks:

It is best to avoid exposure to smoke by staying indoors where possible, and not using evaporative air conditioners which draw air into the house from outside. 

P2 and N95 masks filter some smoke, however, they cannot completely eliminate exposure to smoke, and are not recommended for use in the general community as an alternative to avoiding outdoor exposure. 

Ordinary paper masks are not effective at filtering smoke, however do not cause any harm if people choose to wear them and they feel they get some benefit.

The Government is continuing to monitor demand for masks and is working closely with community service partners to tailor support for vulnerable people experiencing extended exposure to hazardous weather.

For further information about masks and how to fit them visit the ACT Health website at: https://health.act.gov.au/public-health-alert/heavy-smoke-and-hot-conditions-act 

SARRAH Telehealth Forum: Expressions of Interest



We are interested in hearing from any of our members who are planning to or currently offer telehealth services.  The purpose of the forum is to share resources, knowledge and experiences regarding the use of telehealth.

Chris Leung is a SARRAH member interested in connecting with other practitioners working in this space.  Chris works as the SA Telerehabilitation Clinical Lead for Allied Health and supports the implementation, training and development of telehealth enabled rehabilitation specialist services across SA Health including relevant regional Local Health Networks.  Chris has offered to be involved and take the lead in the forum with support from SARRAH secretariat.

If you are interested in being involved, please email the national office at sarrah@sarrah.org.au 

Good Luck, Deslie!

I am sad to say that after more than eleven years with SARRAH, Deslie Rosevear has decided to call it a day.  Deslie is our longest-serving staff member.  She joined the team in 2008 as an admin officer for the former NAHSSS program and has held a variety of roles over the years, rising to the role of Deputy CEO and acting as CEO on several occasions between 2017 and 2019.  It’s Deslie’s friendly voice you’ve heard on the end of the line when you’ve called the national office. She is the familiar face you’ve encountered when you visited the SARRAH booth at many a conference.  Deslie has been the glue that has held the national office together for many years and we will miss her greatly.  Deslie, thank you for your dedication to SARRAH’s work and to our scholars, and we wish you health, happiness and a bright future.

Other News

The Department of Social Services, through its "Boosting the Local Care Workforce" program has released an updated NDIS Demand Map with the latest statistics to give you a picture of NDIS Demand for your postcode area.  Check out the NDIS Demand Map at https://blcw.dss.gov.au/demandmap/

The Cancer Institute of NSW and the Health Education & Training Institute have developed a Basic Sciences in Oncology Course (BSOC),  a multidisciplinary training program designed to support best practice and provide core skills and competencies for health professionals working with oncology patients.

Be a presenter at Compass 2020
The Compass Teaching & Learning Conference is the premier professional development and networking event for people working in primary health care in the Northern Territory.  Compass 2020 is taking place on 14-15 August 2020 at the Darwin Convention Centre.  Abstract submissions close on Monday 10 February.  For more information, go to the NT PHN website

Upcoming Events and conferences

FEBRUARY 2020  

eHealth@Sydney 2020

11th February, 2020

The University of Sydney

Charles Perkins Centre, Lecture Theatre
John Hopkins Dr, Camperdown NSW 2006

Universities Australia Conference 2020

25-27 February 2020

National Convention Centre in Canberra

MARCH 2020  

Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference

30 March - 1 April 2020

Mantra Legends, Gold Coast

2020 New Zealand Mental Health Conference

16th - 17th March 2020

Christchurch, New Zealand

WA Rural Health Conference 2020

21- 22 March 2020

Pan Pacific Perth

MAY 2020  

SPA 2020 National Conference

24 – 27 May 2020

Darwin Convention Centre, NT

7th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium:
Shaping the future

25-26 May 2020

Alice Springs Convention Centre, NT

JUNE 2020  

Associations Forum National Conference

22-23 June 2020

Royal International Convention Centre, Brisbane

OT Exchange 2020

22-23 June 2020

Crown Promenade Melbourne

JULY 2020  

21st International Mental Health Conference

29-31 July 2020

RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, QLD

HIC 2020

27-29 July 2020

Brisbane, QLD

AUGUST 2020  

The 2020 Workplace Mental Health Symposium

31 August-1 September 2020

Hilton, Brisbane, QLD1

 

OCTOBER 2020  

38th CRANAplus Conference

14-16 October 2020

QT, Canberra, ACT

#SARRAH2020

SARRAH 2020 National Rural and Remote Allied Health Conference

The Organising Committee is delighted to present the SARRAH 2020 National Rural and Remote Allied Health Conference.

Hosted by SARRAH since 1995, this biennial conference is for all involved in regional, rural and remote allied health.

The Organising Committee invites you to Townsville

  • to hear a range of eminent speakers,
  • to join us as we share stories to shape the future success for remote, rural and regional allied health, and
  • to celebrate 25 years of SARRAH networking, advocacy and events.
We look forward to sharing our beautiful city with you in 2020.
Current Job Vacancies
Allied Health Team Leader - Allied Health Western, Allied Health Division, Location negotiable, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service. Are you a conscientious and caring Allied Health Team Leader who can provide leadership and direction to the Allied Health team, Western?

Physiotherapist - Rural Workforce Agency Norther Territory (RWA NT) are partnering with Alice Springs Physiotherapy and Sports injury Clinic to find a Physiotherapist to join their multi-disciplinary team. Alice Springs Physiotherapy and Sports injury Clinic was established in 1994 and has continued to develop and provide excellence in Physiotherapy services and other Health Services to the population of Alice Springs and surrounding areas.
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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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