DArcy Photography Leanne Beagley 070 cropped and resized2

PHNs assist with emergency alerts

Last week Victorian residents experienced a smoke incident in Coolaroo, on the northern outskirts of Melbourne. The smoke resulted in very poor air quality in the area and, as a result, some residents were evacuated.

Recently the Department of Health and Human Services instigated a new alert procedure whereby PHNs would ensure health care providers across their particular areas were alerted of an emergency and to any potential consequences that could emanate from such an event.

In this instance we, along with other PHNs, contacted health care providers in our region about the Coolaroo smoke. We contacted over 130 health care providers.

Although this smoke incident was not in our area, residents from western Victoria may have been in the area during this incident and could seek medical or other assistance when they return home. Or others might present with anxiety and questions having become aware of the situation.

The Department of Health and Human Services would like to understand the health impacts of this smoke event on the community and individuals.

If you have any individuals who present to your practices who have been in the area during this period, please assist by emailing PrimaryHealthEM@dhhs.vic.gov.au with the following information:

  • Time and date (of writing report)
  • Number of patients seen with possible smoke related health issues due to the Coolaroo incident
  • Main health concerns reported by those patients
  • Any other general GP observations.

We appreciate your assistance.

Leanne Beagley, Chief Executive Officer 


ePIP – Shared Health Summary upload targets
Congratulations Garry!
New LGBTI resources for aged care providers, workers and consumers
Communication materials to support the National Immunisation Program (NIP) expansion measure
Aboriginal Maternal Child Health (MCH) Initiative Grants close next Wednesday
Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs: Victoria 2016
Medication assisted treatment for opioid dependence

Ballarat Goldfields

HealthPathways update
Prescribed Drugs of Dependence Program
Referrals to Rapid Access Lung Lesion Clinic (RALLC)
Accepting referrals to August Therapeutic AOD Day Rehabilitation Program
Training for volunteers providing palliative care support

Geelong Otway 

HealthPathways update
Women's Health Update Series
Concussion and musculoskeletal/sports injuries in general practice symposium
Mental Health First Aid course

Great South Coast 

Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly & Community Health Services receive STAAR Healthier Workplace Award
'Getting to the bottom of things': Colorectal Cancer Study Day

Wimmera Grampians

HealthPathways update
The ABCs of Practice Sustainability
Understanding Immunotherapy Dinner: Stawell


ePIP – Shared Health Summary upload targets

PHN Western Victoria Logo tiny

The current PIP quarter ends on Monday 31 July.  If your practice is registered for the eHealth PIP incentive, please check that you are on track for the number of Shared Health Summary (SHS) uploads required for your practice.

You need to upload 0.5% of your practice SWPE (standard whole patient equivalent) of the previous PIP quarter, which may be found at the bottom of the front page of your last statement or on HPOS. For example, if your SWPE is 2,500, you would need to upload 13 shared health summaries. Please contact your designated Primary Care Consultant if you’re unsure how to calculate the number of SHSs required to be uploaded.

You can check how many SHSs have been uploaded by:

  • Most recent versions of clinical software have an inbuilt report
  • PENCAT SHS recipe.

Failure to reach targets

If you’re not going to reach your target of required SHS uploads, you will need to withdraw from the eHealth PIP incentive entirely online through the Health Professionals Online Services (HPOS). We are aware of audits being performed and where there has been non-compliance to the eHealth PIP incentive, practices may be asked to return ePIP funds paid.

Contact PIP for advice specific to your practice:

Important notice regarding your last SWPE

The following was announced on the Department of Human Services website:

The eHealth Shared Health Summary (SHS) target on your May payment advice may be incorrect. Log onto HPOS to see your ePIP practice profile online to confirm your SHS target for the August 2017 payment quarter.

Congratulations Garry!

Gary pic

Congratulations to Garry Hurst from Ararat Medical Centre for being named the Victorian 2017 AAPM State Practice Manager of the Year!

According to Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL), Garry is an integral member of the Ararat practice team, who has been able to go above and beyond to dramatically improve the efficiency and stability of the practice through improved communications, streamlining of expenses and a constant commitment to risk management and quality improvement.

All state winners will be in the running for the 2017 AAPM National Practice Manager of the Year, who along with this title will win a $5,000 travel voucher, proudly sponsored by AGPAL and QIP.  

Department of Health

New LGBTI resources for aged care providers, workers and consumers

New LGBTI resources are now available from the Department of Health's website, including a:

  • Consumer factsheet providing an overview of aged care services available and how to access them, specifically for the LGBTI community
  • Booklet to guide aged care workers on providing aged care services to people living with HIV
  • New ‘palliative care in aged care' website with LGBTI resources.

For further information please email ageing.and.diversity@health.gov.au.

Communication materials to support the National Immunisation Program (NIP) expansion measure

The Commonwealth government announced $14.1 million over four years to provide ongoing access to catch-up vaccines from 1 July 2017 for all individuals aged 10 to 19 years and newly arrived refugees and humanitarian entrants, through the NIP. This is in addition to free vaccines for all children up to 10 years of age.

The following NIP expansion communication materials developed by the Commonwealth government are available for you to use as reference material and to place in your practices.

Aboriginal Maternal Child Health (MCH) Initiative Grants close next Wednesday

Victoria State Government

This is a reminder that the Aboriginal MCH Initiative Grants process will be closing next Wednesday 26 July.

The grants will enable innovative partnerships and initiatives to be trialled and evaluated, to inform future improvements to the Universal MCH Service to the benefit of all Aboriginal families and communities.

The grants are available to deliver the Universal MCH Service to Aboriginal families through local government, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), or through integrated partnerships. Funding is available to incorporated organisations, not-for-profit organisations, ACCOs and local councils.

The Grant Application Guidelines and information pack are available via the DET website. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact DET to access an application form.

Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs: Victoria 2016

Social media tile ScriptWise Codeine Launch

According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, more than 900,000 Australians (4.8%) aged 14 years or more had engaged in non-medical use of prescription drugs in 2016.

The number of Victorian adults estimated to be engaged in non-medical use of pharmaceuticals was more than 230,000 (4.8%), including:

  • Pain-killers and opioids (excluding non-opioid analgesics such as paracetamol or aspirin) (> 170,000);
  • OTC codeine (> 130,000);
  • Prescription codeine (> 70,000);
  • Oxycodone (>29,000);
  • Tramadol (>16,000);
  • Morphine(>7,000); and
  • Other painkillers/opioids (>26,000).

More than 79,000 Victorian adults (1.6%) reported non-medical use of tranquillisers or sleeping pills.

Codeine will not be available over the counter from February 2018 after the Therapeutic Goods Association decided last year that the risks associated with the long-term use of codeine are too high without a doctor’s involvement.

Last week, not-for-profit organisation ScriptWise, launched three online toolkits to help prepare community members, pharmacists and GPs for codeine rescheduling. ScriptWise is dedicated to preventing prescription medication misuse and overdose in Australia.

The online toolkits feature interactive content such as infographics, video interviews with experts and talking points to help health professionals and community members start potentially life-saving discussions about alternative pain management options.

Medication assisted treatment for opioid dependence

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RACGP are offering online and face to face training to provide prescribers with information and strategies for safer prescribing of opioids in chronic pain settings.

Online training is available anytime and face-to-face training is scheduled in Ballarat on Saturday 29 July and in various parts of Melbourne from September to November 2017.

To find out more, see this flyer

Ballarat Goldfields

HealthPathways update


Recently, localised HealthPathways for the Ballarat Grampians region include:

  • Mother and Baby Unit
  • Fertility referral
  • Disability support services
  • Aged Care Assessment Services
  • Perinatal mental health.

To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines see the HealthPathways website.

Prescribed Drugs of Dependence Program

Practice Support and free CPD event for GPs (40 Cat 1 RACGP QI&CPD points)

PHN Western Victoria Logo tiny  Orticare.160359

The Coroner’s Court of Victoria revealed that 80% of Victorian overdose deaths between 2009 - 2015 involved pharmaceutical drugs, making them bigger killers than illicit drugs or road accidents. Opioids and benzodiazepines were the most commonly implicated medications. Due to the higher rates of prescribing and limited access to pain and addiction services, patients living in regional and rural areas were particularly vulnerable.

Western Victoria PHN in partnership with Orticare Pharmacotherapy Network will be addressing these concerns by offering support and resources to practices in the Ballarat Goldfields region to promote safer prescribing of drugs of dependence in general practice.

In addition, Western Victoria PHN is hosting a FREE CPD event for GPs and registrars with speaker Dr Paul Grinzi (Medical Educator, RACGP Victorian Faculty Drug and Alcohol Committee chair).  

The Active Learning Module, ‘Prescribed Drugs of Dependence and your Practice’ will include three evening sessions:

  • Thursday 14 September
  • Thursday 19 October
  • Thursday 9 November.

Places are limited.  Registrations close Monday 11 September.  

This activity has been approved by the RACGP QI&CPD Program in the 2017-19 triennium 40 Category 1 points (Activity: 106170). 

To find out more and to register, please see this flyer.

Referrals to Rapid Access Lung Lesion Clinic (RALLC)

Ballarat Health Services

Ballarat Health Services in now accepting referrals for their new Rapid Access Lung Lesion Clinic (RALLC) which will be located at BRICC, 1st Floor, Outpatients.

RALCC provides a single referral pathway for patients with a proven or suspected diagnosis of Lung Cancer. This multidisciplinary clinic comprises a team of specialists from oncology, surgery and respiratory medicine.

The clinic aims to expedite the assessment process and provide streamlined and timely care, as recommended by the Lung Cancer OCP.

Previous evidence has shown Rapid Access Clinics are associated with faster diagnosis, less hospital visits and reduced patient anxiety.

Referrals can be made using the BHS smart referral template or via referral letter addressed to “Rapid Access Lung Lesion Clinic, RALLC”.

Further information can be found via the HealthPathways portal or by contacting the Clinic Coordinator, Ms Kath McCann on 0437 270 743.

Accepting referrals to August Therapeutic AOD Day Rehabilitation Program

Ballarat Community Health

Ballarat Community Health is currently accepting referrals for their August Making A Change Program.

  • Participants must be over the age of 18 years.
  • The program is free.
  • Places are limited and an assessment will be undertaken prior to successful enrolment in the program.

To express interest in participating in the program contact: Claire Coutts on 0409 414 017 or Beth Mc Donald on 0497 443 733.

Please email your details and referrals to aodintake@bchc.org.au.

Participants must be stable in their substance use and mental health and they must be able to attend the program not affected by alcohol or other drugs.

Training for volunteers providing palliative care support

Shannons Bridge

Shannon's Bridge is offering training to help local volunteers providing palliative care support.

Date: Saturday 5 August
Time: 9am - 2pm
Venue: John Curtin Aged Care, 6 Cushing Ave, Creswick

Lunch will be supplied. Places are limited. To register, for further information, special dietary requirements or special needs, please email shannonsbridge@gmail.com.

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update


New on HealthPathways:

  • ST-elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI)
  • Heart valve disease - follow-up
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Pancreatic cancer - established
  • Heart murmurs (Adults).                              

  Recently reviewed and updated HealthPathways

  • Immunisation - Childhood
  • Immunisation - Adolescents
  • Immunisation - Pregnancy
  • Mother and Baby Units
  • UTI in men
  • Painful scrotum.

To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines visit HealthPathways.

Women's Health Update Series 

PHN Western Victoria Logo tiny

Western Victoria PHN will host three events over the next four months addressing:

  • Pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction: Thursday 3 August
  • Contraception, consultation discussions you need to have: Thursday 7 September
  • Cervical screening: Thursday 23 November.

Speakers include Dr Marilla Druitt (Obstetrician / Gynaecologist), Becky Hollows (Physiotherapist), Rochelle Hamilton (Sexologist), Suzanne Pearson (Family Planning), and Stella Heley (Sexual Health Physician).

GPs must attend all three of these events to qualify for RACGP Cat. 1 points.

Read more 

Concussion and musculoskeletal/sports injuries in general practice symposium

Epworth Geelong

Epworth Geelong is hosting a CPD GP Symposium covering:

  • Concussion
  • Facial and ENT injuries
  • Ankle, hand, knee, shoulder and hip injuries
  • Assessment of degenerative spine.

Date: Saturday 29 July
Time: 8.30am - 4.30pm

For further information, please see this flyer

Mental Health First Aid course

Mental Health First Aid small

Open to practice staff, this Mental Health First Aid course provides participants with skills to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, knowledge of the possible causes or risk factors for these mental health problems and an awareness of evidence-based medical, psychological and alternative treatments available.'

Date: Thursday 10 August and Thursday 17 August
Time: 10am - 4pm
Venue: Western Victoria PHN, 131 Myers St, Geelong

Read more

Great South Coast

Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly & Community Health Services receive STAAR Healthier Workplace Award

DWECH logo

Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly & Community Health (DWECH) Services was pleased to receive a STAAR Healthier Workplace Award at the National No More Harm Conference in Brisbane. John Bell, CEO and Tess Howells, Psychologist accepted the award.

The STAAR Award recognises outstanding achievement in prevention and management approaches to behaviour that causes harm and is a joint initiative of the No More Harm National Conference and the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association.

Titled Tackling Lateral Violence in an Aboriginal Health Service and Community John and Tess presented on the holistic approach DWECH had taken to reduce unacceptable levels of lateral violence and workplace bullying and the associated mental distress.

According to Tess Howells, lateral violence is a form of aggression or bullying that is directed sideways or laterally towards peers and has its roots in colonisation and the resultant oppression, loss of identity, inter-generational trauma and feelings of powerlessness. Tess says that it is estimated that up to 95 per cent of Aboriginal people have experienced it.

Since John Bell took up leadership of DWECH in July 2016, and announced his Zero Tolerance to lateral violence and disrespectful relationships, the organisation has, with the assistance of Tess Howells implemented a range of strategies including:

  • Mandatory training in respectful workplace behaviours, positive communication, lateral violence, cultural awareness, nutrition and mood, professional skills
  • Up-skilling of line managers to effectively model positive behaviour and performance manage unacceptable behaviour
  • Review of all position descriptions
  • Review and strengthening of policies and procedures
  • Development of a new five year strategic plan based on a holistic social and emotional wellbeing model of health
  • Toolbox sessions – information sessions delivered to community members over lunch.

Measures of psychological distress and workplace engagement were taken at the commencement of the initiative and repeated just a week prior to the conference. The results showed a significant decrease in clinical levels of depression and anxiety and a slight increase in stress levels (possibly due to the change process and increased accountability).

Levels of engagement increased with nearly a fifty percent drop in those showing low levels of engagement and a 22 percent increase in employees recording high and very high levels of engagement.

All line managers reported a significant drop in absenteeism. The results surpassed expectations, particularly given the relatively short period of time. 

'Getting to the bottom of things': Colorectal Cancer Study Day

SouthWest Healthcare

You're invited to this Study Day where participants will gain an understanding of the patient's experience of colorectal cancer diagnosis, from screening to treatment and beyond.

Date: Friday 28 July
Time: 8.30am - 4.30pm
Venue: Ace Radio Lecture Hall

To find out more and to register, please see this flyer.

Wimmera Grampians 

HealthPathways update


Recently, localised HealthPathways for the Horsham Wimmera region include:

  • Mother and Baby Unit
  • Fertility referral
  • Disability support services
  • Aged Care Assessment Services
  • Perinatal mental health.

To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines see the HealthPathways website

The ABCs of Practice Sustainability

Rural Workforce Agency Victoria small

This two day workshop is designed specifically for practice managers and owners who wish to expand their knowledge of business trends. You will gain a greater understanding in areas such as human resources, finance and risk management.

Date: Friday 28 July and Saturday 29 July
Venue: Wimmera Room - Horsham International Hotel 118 Baillie Street, Horsham 

To find out more, see this flyer and Program.

Understanding Immunotherapy Dinner: Stawell


This meeting is designed to help GPs and other health professionals confidently manage their patients who are receiving or may start on Immunotherapy. It will increase awareness of the drugs' pharmacology, adverse event profile and how these effects can be recognised easily and treated quickly and efficiently.

Dr Stephen Brown, Clinical Director of Medical Oncology at Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre will discuss the rapidly progressing Immunotherapy class of cancer treatments. Jade Cleary, Exercise Physiologist at Stawell Regional Health will also be giving an update on the multidisciplinary approach offered locally and the benefits these programs give to patients.

Date: Tuesday 22 August
Time: 6.30pm for 7pm start
Venue: Comfort Inn Goldfields, 7-9 Western Hwy, Stawell

A two course meal will be provided.  For further information, please see this flyer.