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Message from the (not) CEO

Happy Friday everyone!

This week the SARRAH team has been busy at work! We have been ensuring the best interests of rural and remote allied health professionals are considered during this COVID-19 pandemic through meetings with the Commonwealth Department of Health Primary Healthcare Division. As a part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health have been holding regular COVID-19 Primary Care and Allied Health Webinars to address concerns, questions and to provide updates regarding COVID-19 care and prevention. We are pleased that the South Australian Chief Allied Health Officer has joined these webinars. We welcome her expertise, input and understanding into these discussion especially from an allied health perspective. This has no doubt benefited many and we encourage you all to view these webinars (notifications about upcoming webinars will be published on our social media platforms!).

Finally, it is with regret and disappointment to report that the 2020 SARRAH Conference in Townsville has been cancelled due to the uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our thanks go to our fantastic conference organising committee for working through some tough decisions, our sponsors as always for their support, our keynote speakers and to those that contributed submitted abstracts. We also give a big thank you to those that have supported us in previous conferences and planned to attend our 2020 conference. We will be back in 2022 with a fantastic conference program for you all and cannot wait to join you soon.

Stay well, everyone.

Jay
Natural Disaster and Emergency Response Recovery Grant Expression of Interest

Primary health care services and professionals are still recovering from the impact of bushfire and long-term drought.

NSW Rural Doctors Network has grants of up to $10,000 to support eligible practices and practitioners towards recovery and sustainability. Primary care practices and individuals can complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) in funding to address the significant physical, social or emotional impacts of a natural disaster or emergency. Find out if you are eligible and complete an EOI here.

SQRH Research into impact of COVID-19

Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) is conducting a research study exploring attitudes and practices towards the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. The aim is to investigate whether concerns about COVID-19 community transmission and adherence to social distancing rules and hygiene practices differ depending on infection rates in different Australian geographical locations (metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas).

The survey is for people aged 18 years and over who live in Australia and are willing to participate in the study. It is anticipated that the survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. The survey can be found here.

Digital Health CRC Telehealth Hub

The Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) has today launched a new website, the Telehealth Hub which will help clinicians, health professionals and health consumers to access and deliver telehealth services in Australia more effectively. The site was created through a collaboration between Curtin University, La Trobe University and the DHCRC. The team quickly mobilised highly skilled people to check, collate and index the crowd-sourced information and develop this website. The website can be found here.

National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is continuing the consultation process on the draft National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health (NSQDMH) Standards. To allow organisations and individuals additional time to respond, the Commission is extending the end date of the consultation process to 29 May 2020. Stakeholders can view the draft NSQDMH Standards on the Commission’s website.

The Commission has developed a series of fact sheets to provide tips for consumers, carers and clinicians choosing a digital mental health service. These fact sheets are based on the research and consultation the Commission has undertaken during the development of the NSQDMH Standards. The fact sheets and further information on the consultation process can be found here.

Cultural safety in the health workforce – no time to wait

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), the peak organisation for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce, is committed to supporting the good health and social and emotional wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, our people, families and communities, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
IAHA stands against all forms of racism and discrimination, which have no place within the health system and Australian communities. Racism has been demonstrated to contribute to poor health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, both by actively causing harm and acting as a barrier to essential care.  
 
IAHA support the release of the No place for racism in healthcare statement from Ahpra and the National Boards which calls on practitioners to provide culturally safe care, free from racism. Ahpra acknowledges these issues continue to exist and cites disturbing examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been subjected to racism and culturally unsafe care. Unfortunately, these are not isolated instances and can have particularly damaging impacts in these challenging times. Aphra’s work in this area is welcomed and extremely important. 
 
IAHA Chairperson, Nicole Turner said “IAHA joins Ahpra in their message to health practitioners and in condemning all forms of racism and discrimination. IAHA look forward to real change from National Boards and professions in stamping out racism and building cultural safety and responsiveness across the breadth and depth of allied health professions.” 
 
IAHA reinforces the message that racism will not be tolerated, whether as people being cared for or providing that care. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals are also subjected to racism, discrimination and unsafe work environments. Under no circumstances should this ever happen. 

The existing inequities in health, social and emotional wellbeing and the social determinants of health, place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at a higher risk of adverse outcomes associated with COVID-19. IAHA, alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peer organisations, have been working with Ahpra and the National Boards to embed cultural safety within the registered professions, in order to improve access to care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is critical in transforming health practitioner behaviours, attitudes, perspectives and assumptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 
Current Job Vacancies
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.

Occupational Therapist - Top End Health Service - Darwin/Palmerston
Provision and co-ordination of clinical Occupational Therapy (OT) Services at the Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) and Palmerston Regional Hospital as well as specific leadership, supervision/mentorship and education to directly reporting staff, as well as other professionals within their own team and/or across disciplines throughout the Top End Health Service (TEHS). Advanced clinical experience in any of the following areas, Paediatrics, Hand Therapy, or Surgical. For more information visit our website.
Other News

1 in 5 Australians aged 45 years and over experienced chronic pain in 2015-16 as reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). In 2016, it was estimated that almost 1 in 5 (19%, 1.6 million) Australians aged 45 and over had chronic pain with higher rates for women compared to men. There were almost 105,000 hospitalisations in 2017–18 where chronic pain was deemed relevant to the patient’s care and patients with chronic pain were more likely to have a longer stay in hospital compared to those without.

Consumers Health Forum highlights COVID-19 shows prevention can be the difference between life and death. The impact of COVID-19 provides powerful evidence for the Government to boost Australia's health prevention measures in the latest edition of CHF's ejournal Health Voices.It has underscored how avoidable chronic health conditions have made many patients more vulnerable to the worst effects of a disease like coronavirus.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Provider News has published an article, ‘DVA arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic’. The article offers support services and resources that can assist you to provide the best care to your veteran patients during the COVID-19 pandemic provided by the DVA.

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 sarrah@sarrah.org.au or visit our dedicated telehealth resource page here.
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 https://sarrah.org.au/ahrgp to learn more and apply.
COVID-19 Information for Allied Health Professionals
The Department of Health has released a 30-minute online training
module covering the fundamentals of infection prevention and
control for COVID-19 and is intended for health care workers in
all settings. It also includes COVID-19 - What is it?, signs and symptoms, keeping safe - protecting yourself and others and mythbusting.

For up-to-date developments relating to COVID-19 visit:

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

and

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Healthdirect Australia is working with the Australian Government Department of Health to provide information about COVID-19 to the public. They are sharing messaging and resources to help you provide evidence-based trusted information about COVID-19 to your community. These resources will be updated continually throughout this pandemic.

Healthdirect Australia has worked with the Department of Health to establish the Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080) to provide non-clinical information about COVID-19. Our healthdirect helpline (1800 022 222) is triaging people calling with symptoms. Both lines are receiving unprecedented call volumes, resulting in extended wait times for some callers. As part of the Australian Government’s health plan announced yesterday, we are expanding these helplines to be able to provide timely advice and support to everyone who needs it.

As an alternative to the helplines, answers to many questions are available on the healthdirect website coronavirus hub. Please direct your community to this hub as their first point of reference for reliable information about COVID-19. The healthdirect Symptom Checker provides self-guided triage to find out what to do next. A series of social media assets and videos are also available to download and use in your campaigns.

Resources to use and share:

This fact sheet relates to a temporary six-month measure for  Bulk Billed MBS Telehealth Services for doctors, nurses and mental health professionals to deliver services via telehealth, provided those services are bulk billed. The new MBS items will allow people to access essential health services in their home while they undergo self-isolation or quarantine, and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for vulnerable people in the community.

The DOH has also released a fact sheet providing guidance on the distribution of PPE such as Tranche 1, Surgical masks and P2/N95 respirators in PHNs.

We are sharing this important information with all of our Information Partners - feel free to share both within your community and externally to help people easily find reliable information about COVID-19.

Additional resources

Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Australian Government Department of Health
Coronavirus (COVID-19) daily health alerts  – Australian Government Department of Health  
COVID-19 National Health Plan – Primary Care – Bulk Billed MBS Telehealth Services – Australian Government Department of Health

Online training provided by Phoenix Training assisting healthcare professionals communicate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with hearing loss can be found here.


Webinar recording of "Experiences and Outcomes of Rural Generalist Trainees in QLD, NSW and TAS" now available!

On Thursday 19 March a group of Allied Health Rural Generalist trainees presented summaries of their service development projects. You can catch the recording 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
TBC
Hilton, Brisbane, QLD1
7th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium:
Shaping the future

TBC
Alice Springs Convention Centre, NT
Links for Health Professionals Supporting Health Care in Bushfire Affected Communities

Volunteering Opportunities

The Federal Government has put in place emergency protocols to expedite the process of getting GPs and allied health professionals 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. 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)
Emerging Minds: Community Trauma Toolkit
This toolkit contains resources to help and support adults and children before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event. It will help you understand some of the impacts of disaster and how you can help lessen these impacts.
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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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