Closing The Gap highlights value of collaboraiton and integration

Kate Barlow

Western Victoria Primary Health Network joined Barwon Health this week to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. The anniversary preceded the latest ‘Closing the Gap’ report, tabled in federal parliament, which provides a sobering reflection on the forecast improvement of Indigenous Australians’ health and wellbeing. But two key points in the report highlight the value of Western Victoria Primary Health Network initiatives, designed to help improve the wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

2017 02 13 10.52.51 banner

Barwon Health and Western Victoria PHN staff on the ninth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

The 2017 report finds that over the longer term, Indigenous mortality rates have declined significantly by 15 per cent since 1998, although Australia is not on track to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031. Indigenous Australians still die about 10 years younger than non-Indigenous Australians.

Between 1998 and 2015, Indigenous child mortality rates declined and the gap narrowed but the rate of decline since 2008 is not considered significant. The report finds that child mortality rates actually increased slightly from 2014 to 2015.

Importantly, the report also noted:

  • Working collaboratively across governments, the health sector and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on local and regional responses is central to improving life expectancy
  • Better integration of services across health, childcare, early childhood education and school will result in better access to the right services.

I am encouraged that Western Victoria Primary Health Network is continuing to work collaboratively to enhance health outcomes for Indigenous Australians in our region , including an ongoing review, to identify gaps in service needs and services system, of the Integrated Team Care – Care Coordination and Supplementary Services. In-depth consultations are being conducted throughout Western Victoria with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to inform the outcome of this important review.

Kate Barlow, Acting Chief Executive Officer


New hepatitis C patient resource
Free Meningococcal W vaccination program
Foods That Do Good: lactose intolerance
SARRAH nursing and allied health scholarships closing soon
Practice management networking breakfasts
Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis: webinar
Mental health and the military experience: webinar
Understanding and responding to AOD issues: workshop
Preventing chronic diseases seminar
Victorian Integrated Cancer Services conference

Grampians Wimmera

Referring clients for dementia support nurse services

Ballarat Goldfields 

Government calls for Supercare Pharmacy tenders
New palliative care drug guides

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update
Paperless pregnancy files for maternity care
Prescribing opioids: international guest lecture
Lung cancer forum
River's Gift SIDS symposium


New hepatitis C patient resource 

Western Victoria PHN logo

The Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) has released a new resource for people living with hepatitis C. Almost 90% of new hepatitis C transmissions are attributable to injecting drug use, but with the introduction of effective and well tolerated Direct Acting Anti-viral (DAA) therapies to the PBS in 2016, there is a new opportunity to decrease the rates of new transmissions in this community.

The new 'Hep C and You: A User Guide to the Latest Information' resource aims to increase hepatitis C literacy by acting as a plain language explanation of the condition, screening and treatment options. The new guide aims to encourage people living with hepatitis C or at risk of transmission to get tested and undertake treatment.

If you or your practice would like to order copies of the resource, please email AIVL's James Dunne or telephone 02 6279 1600.

For information about the local options for GP prescribers, contact your local Western Victoria Primary Health Network office, or visit the hepatitis C page of HealthPathways.

Geelong Otway Tracey Roebuck  Mon - Wed 5222 0800
Wimmera Grampians

Krista Fischer 

Clair McDonald 

Mon - Fri

Mon, Wed & Thurs

5381 1756

5381 1756

Ballarat Goldfields Jacqui White  Mon - Fri 5304 5605
Great South Coast Raj Samrai  Mon - Fri 5564 5827

Free Meningococcal W vaccination program


The Victorian government has announced a free, one-year school-based Meningococcal W vaccination program, beginning Term 2 (Monday 18 April 2017), for Victorian aged 15 to 19 years. The prevalence of the W strain has increased significantly across Australia recently, with Victoria experiencing 48 cases in 2016, up from just one in 2013.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer has issued an updated advisory addressing the Meningococcal W strain. For more information visit.

Foods That Do Good: lactose intolerance

Dairy Australia

Dairy Australia’s ‘Foods That Do Good’ program is designed to provide health professional with accessible, evidence-based nutrition information. The site is curated by Dairy Australia with input from qualified health professionals and peak bodies representing the other four food groups, mindful of evidence showing Australians consume too much discretionary food and not enough foods from the five food groups for a healthy diet.

'Foods That Do Good’ has produced new content focusing on digestive problems, including lactose intolerance. The latest bulletin advises that lactose intolerance is mostly a deficiency rather than an absence of the lactase enzyme, which helps break down lactose. It also recommends a number ways that health professionals can help patients with digestive problems find ways to keep dairy foods in their diet, including a 21-day milk-drinking intervention and consuming dairy differently.

Visit 'Foods That Do Good' for the latest on lactose intolerance or download the following information:

SARRAH nursing and allied health scholarships closing soon   


Applications for Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) nursing and allied health scholarships close Monday 27 February 2017. SARRAH has announced a limited round of scholarships for the 2017 academic year, with funding covering a 12-month period only.

Details about scholarship categories and information about how to apply are available online

Practice management networking breakfasts


The Australian Association of Practice Management will welcome practice managers, particularly those new to management and people keen to learn more about the association to breakfast networking events in Geelong and Warrnambool next week. 

Members and non-members are welcome to spend time with AAPM committee members and your colleagues sharing ideas, knowledge and experiences.

Date: Thursday 23 February 2017
Time: 8am - 9am
Venues: (Geelong) James Street Bakery, 10 James Street Geelong; (Warrnambool) Figsellars Cafe, 89 Liebig Street Warrnambool.

Register online.

Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis: webinar


A Mental Health Professionals Network webinar will explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide later this month. The discussion will also address: 

  • Key principles in the early identification of youth experiencing psychological distress
  • Appropriate referral pathways to prevent crises and provide early intervention
  • Challenges, tips and strategies to implement a collaborative response to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Date: Thursday 23 February
Time: 7.15pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Online

Register online.

Mental health and the military experience: webinar

Australia DVA  MHPN

A free webinar this month will address case studies related to recognising, responding to and treating common sleep disorders in veterans. 'Promoting Healthy Sleep: Recognising, Responding to and Treating Common Sleep Disorders in Veterans' is designed to help participants support veterans by increasing their knowledge of evidence-based psychological and medical treatments for sleep disorders.

Date: Tuesday 28 February 2017
Time: 7.15pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Online

Register online.

Understanding and responding to AOD issues: workshop

Turning Point

An alcohol and other drugs (AOD) workshop next month will discuss reported findings that problematic substance use often goes unreported or is minimised by clients, which can have an adverse impact on treatment outcomes. Turning Point's 'Understanding and responding to AOD issues' workshop is targeted to health professionals including psychologists, social workers, nurses and doctors who have limited experience in the AOD field.

The workshop will also cover: 

  • Effects and harms of alcohol and other commonly misused drugs
  • Prevalence and patterns of AOD use
  • AOD frameworks and models
  • AOD screening and assessment tools
  • Harm reduction strategies
  • AOD treatment options
  • Referral pathways to AOD services.

Date: Thursday 16 March 2017
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Venue: Turning Point, Eastern Health, 142 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Register online.

Preventing chronic diseases seminar

Discussions about the relationship between Primary Health Networks and chronic disease prevention, the importance of sleep and oral health will feature at a new seminar in March, focusing on the prevention of chronic diseases in an ageing population. The Prevention of Chronic Diseases – Healthy Ageing seminar, hosted by the Australian Disease Management Association and Dementia Training Australia will feature presentations from Peter Breadon (Victorian Department of Health and Human Services), Professor Jonathan Shaw (Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute), and Elise Davies (North West Melbourne Primary Health Network) among others.

Date: Friday 24 March 2017
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Venue: AMREP Lecture Theatre, The Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Melbourne

Register online by Wednesday 17 March 2017.

Victorian Integrated Cancer Services conference

Integrated Cancer

Victorian Integrated Cancer Services' 3rd biennial conference offers health service practitioners, clinicians, researchers and consumers an opportunity to learn about current and emerging work in the cancer sector and to foster connections across the cancer community. 

The conference theme 'optimal care in cancer' will encompass discussions about:

  • Optimal cancer treatments
  • Primary care
  • Supportive care
  • Patient-centred palliative care
  • Survivorship
  • Using research and date to improve services.

Date: Thursday 11 - Friday 12 May 2017
Time: 8am - 5pm 
Venue: Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre (Level 1), 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf

Program and registration details are available now.

Grampians Wimmera

Referring clients for dementia support nurse services

Wimmera HC Group

The dementia support nurse service is a commonwealth and state government funded program that provides short-term care co-ordination, support and assistance for future planning for people with memory and thinking difficulties in the Horsham, Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack and West Wimmera shires.


The service provides support for clients related to:

  • Behavioural difficulties
  • Carer stress
  • Concerns about client safety
  • Memory and thinking problems.

The dementia support service does not see clients who are currently on packages who are receiving case management services and in residential aged care.

How do clinicians and service providers make direct referrals for dementia support nurse services?

Referrals are to be directed to Community Rehabilitation Services Centre – Intake for Dementia Support Nurse Services via: 

  • Connecting Care/ RIMS (CRC and add in dementia support nurse)
  • Fax - 5381 9330
  • Mail - Intake Worker Arapiles Building Wimmera Health Care Group Baillie Street, Horsham VIC 3400.

Referrals are to include the following information:

  • Client name and address
  • Next of Kin
  • Medical history
  • Current Medications
  • Date of dementia diagnosis (If applicable)
  • Support Services
  • Current Issues/concerns
  • Any supporting information (recent MMSE, DASS).

For more information telephone 5381 9333.

Ballarat Goldfields

Government calls for Supercare Pharmacy tenders

VictorianGovernment logo

The Victorian government is calling for tenders for another seven Supercare Pharmacies, which will open every day (24 hours), with a nurse on site from 6pm to 10pm.

In July 2016, the state's first five Supercare Pharmacies opened in Ascot Vale, Craigieburn, Wantirna South, Yarraville and Ballarat. The pharmacies provide round-the-clock access to pharmacists for advice, supply of medicines and dispensing prescriptions. The 6pm to 10pm nurse provides face-to-face health advice and treatment for minor injuries or illness.

The free nursing service also assists with wound management, physical assessment, flu and whooping cough immunisations, health screening, sexual health advice and referrals to other services. Supercare Pharmacies do not replace doctors or the need to visit an emergency department.

The two services - pharmacy and nursing - are being treated as separate services and are therefore the subject of separate tender processes involving separate request for tender documents.

Both tenders opened on 9 February 2017 and close on 10 March 2017. Further information is available on the Victorian government tenders website.

New palliative care drug guides 


New guides informing opioid conversions and syringe driver drug compatibilities have been designed in response to January's palliative care special interest group breakfast in Ballarat. The guides, developed by the Eastern Metropolitan Region Palliative Care Consortium, provide detailed information requested by GPs and other attendees at the breakfast and are available now for download:

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update


New on HealthPathways:

  • Immunisation - influenza
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Lymphoedema
  • Acute knee injuries.

Recently reviewed and updated:

  • Painless scrotal lumps in adults
  • Death certification
  • Immunisation – childhood
  • Immunisation – adolescents
  • Immunisation - pregnancy
  • Refugee Health in adults.

Visit HealthPathways for up-to-date, locally agreed guidelines.

Paperless pregnancy files for maternity care

Barwon Health

Women’s Services at University Hospital Geelong is currently in transition to paperless pregnancy files for maternity care provided at all Barwon Health sites. This process commenced in December 2016 with electronic documentation of the antenatal booking at the first booking visit in the Outpatients Pregnancy Care Clinic.

What this means for GPs

For all women participating in GP shared care, the previously hand written pregnancy booking summary information is now printed as an electronic front page. This is attached to a pregnancy visit record sheet to be used for hand written pregnancy care visits as is current practice. You should be seeing these documents carried by pregnant women from any time now.

Please continue to document pregnancy visits on the attached pregnancy visit record sheet.

Web-based access to pregnancy records for documentation of care

The hospital is investigating a web-based platform to enable multi user access including access for general practitioners to view and for electronic data entry for all pregnancy episodes of care. Until web-based access becomes available for direct documentation into the system for shared care women, please continue to document pregnancy visits on the pregnancy visit record sheet attached to the antenatal summary print out page.

Birthing Outcomes Discharge summaries

The hospital has re-activated pulse transmission of the baby BOS discharge summaries (including special care nursery) similar to that of the mothers BOS discharge summaries currently pulsed out to GPs. The transition is intended to create minimum impact on providing shared antenatal care.

For more information please telephone Kim Layton Shared Maternity Care Coordinator, University Hospital Geelong on 4215 2055 (Monday to Wednesday).

Prescribing opioids: international guest lecture

Western Victoria PHN logo

President of the German Pain League and Medical Director of Nuremberg's Institute for Neurosciences, Algesiology & Paediatrics Dr Michael Ueberall will present a guest lecture on prescribing opioids next week. Dr Ueberall's presentation 'Balancing Efficacy and Tolerability' will stream live from Sydney to Western Victoria Primary Health Network Geelong. 

The special presentation, supported by Mundipharma, will cover: 

  • The role of the modern opioid analgesics under real-life conditions
  • The effects of opioid analgesics in daily practice
  • Efficacy and tolerability in the management of non-cancer chronic pain.

Date: Thursday 23 February 2017
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Western Victoria Primary Health Network, 131 Myers Street, Geelong

RSVP by Tuesday 21 February 2017 by telephoning Mundipharma's Karen Bourchier (0407 665 430), Tanja Ilioski (0407 143 620), or Marni Wee (0438 191 863).

Lung cancer forum

Barwon Health and BSWRICS 

You're invited to attend a free lung and thoracic cancers forum that will include presentations from a range of cancer specialists and updates in diagnostic and treatment developments, advances in systemic therapies and updates from Supportive and Palliative Care.  The forum will also provide an overview of the new Barwon Health Lung Tumour Clinic.

Date: Thursday 23 February 2017
Time: 5.30pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre, HERB, Geelong Clinical School, Barwon Health

RSVP by email or telephone 4215 0459 before Friday 17 February 2017.

River's Gift SIDS symposium

Rivers Gift

World leading SIDS researcher Dr Hannah Kinney (Boston Children's Hospital) will headline a symposium in March, on her first Australian visit. Dr Kinner will be joined at the River's Gift SIDS symposium by the University of Sydney's Dr Rita Machaalani and Fiona Bright, River's Gift SIDS research fellow. 

Join other primary health practitioners at this exciting event for an update on the latest in SIDS research. 

Date: Thursday 9 March 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 9pm
Venue: REACH Building Lecture Theatre (DD2.101) Deakin University Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds

Register online.