Kate Barlow head shot

Welcome to 2016!

As we are all acutely aware, we are in the middle of the fire season with a significant part of the Western Victoria region frequently experiencing weather conditions and environmental factors that put our communities at risk.

The Wye River Jamieson Track fire has been alight since the 19 December, moving south on Christmas Day with devastating impacts on homes in Wye River and Separation Creek. It has been confirmed that 116 properties were destroyed with 22 residents losing their permanent home. Fortunately, there has been no loss of life. This fire is still burning and may do so for some weeks.

Other fires across the region have also caused loss of property and caused much distress to those affected.

Given the impact of the loss of homes, as well as, the stress of living with fire in the environment, the communities in affected areas may be feeling stressed and vulnerable. GPs and other health professionals play a critical role in responding to people experiencing these issues and are likely to have an increase in demand for information around bush fires and health risks, as well as, an increase for psycho-social support. General practice will be relied upon and it reminds us of the importance of primary care in responding to community crises.

The Department of Health and Human Services provides a suite of community factsheets, which may provide some helpful resources.

Take care and stay safe. 

Kate Barlow Deputy CEO and Director Health Services, Western Victoria PHN

General updates

Needs Assessment service provider and community forums

After hours grants available for primary health service providers

GP Mental Health Treatment Plan templates available from RACGP

New Requirement Quality Improvement Activity - RACGPP

Optimal care pathways for cancer

Tele-derm National offers free specialist advice

New diabetes society for primary care professionals

Palliative care resources on the CareSearch website

ACP Survey and legislative changes

Victorian osteoarthritis Model of Care initiative – Seeking responses

Asthma triggers over Christmas and Summer holidays

National Heart Foundation Tick to be retired

Department of Health updates

APNA updates

2016 Allied Health CPD Scholarships

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence

Rural Anaesthetists Conference 2016

Barwon South Western and Grampians Allied Health Conference 2016

Ballarat updates

Ballarat GP awarded Family Planning Victoria scholarship

Grampians Region Highway Model of Continuing Nurse and Midwifery education event

Safer Opioid Prescribing in General Practice - Ballarat

Suicide Prevention Workshop

Geelong updates

HealthPathways news

Clinical Attachment Program

Lake Imaging - extended hours for urgent x-rays

Closure of Dr Chris Corcos' private psychiatry practice at Barwon Health

Horsham updates

Community consultations for drought affected communities

Grampians Region Highway Model of Continuing Nurse and Midwifery education event

Sexual and Reproductive Health Updates 2016


Needs Assessment service provider and community forums

The Western Victoria PHN is focussed on working with health service providers, users and communities to develop and improve access to the right primary health services, in the right place, at the right time. As part of this process, we are conducting our 2016-17 Population Health Planning Needs Assessment, collecting and collating information to identify systems and service development priorities, building on our previous work and knowledge.

Our Needs Assessment is our roadmap about what primary health care our region needs. We develop the Needs Assessment collaboratively with local health organisations and community groups, bringing all that expertise together to develop a shared understanding of what’s really needed in our region.

Our success depends on a collective effort to ensure better health outcomes for all communities in our region. 

This is your opportunity to have your say! Please join us and make a positive difference to the region’s primary health system by providing feedback on local health needs, health system issues and service utilisation to inform the prioritisation and commissioning of future health services. Forums have been scheduled across the region. Please forward forum details to community members, individuals or organisations that will have an interest in attending. If you are unable to attend, please email us your input and feedback.

Geelong 6.30pm at 131 Myers Street
• Wednesday 3 February (Service providers)
• Thursday 4 February (Community)

Horsham 6.30pm at Horsham Golf Club, 304 Golf Course Road, Haven
• Wednesday 3 February (Service providers)
• Thursday 4 February (Community)

Portland 7pm at Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service, 18 Wellington Road, Portland
• Monday 8 February (Community)
• Tuesday 9 February (Service providers)

Warrnambool 7pm at Bayside City Plaza, 24-36 Fairy Street
• Wednesday 10 February (Community)
• Thursday 11 February (Service providers)

Ballarat 6.30pm at Cooinda Centre Hall, 10 Learmonth Rd, Wendouree
• Wednesday 10 February (Community)
• Thursday 11 February (Service providers)

After hours grants available for primary health service providers

Western Victoria PHN has funding grants available to address gaps in after hours service arrangements and improve service integration within the region. 

Applications close Friday 29 January 2016. Grant guidelines and applications are available on our website

GP Mental Health Treatment Plan templates available from RACGP

Four GP Mental Health Treatment Plan (GPMHTP) templates are now available.The suite includes:

  • A template for use with Adult patients
  • A template for use with Child and adolescent patients
  • A Subjective Objective Assessment Plan template that outlines a different method for collecting and recording information
  • A minimal requirements template that includes only the basic information required for referral, as specified by Medicare Australia.

These new GPMHTP templates are available for download as are some additional resources relating to development of GPMHTP.

The aim of these templates is to enhance the quality of mental health care provision and support GPs in the management of patients with a mental illness. They are designed to provide prompts in the assessment, treatment planning and review of patients experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, and to assist in the documentation of this information. It is not necessary to complete all fields in preparing the GPMHTP. GPs may choose to adapt the templates according to the needs of their practice and their patients.

Please note it is not mandatory to use any particular form when preparing and claiming for a GPMHTP.

New Requirement Quality Improvement Activity - RACGP

GPs must undertake at least one Quality Improvement (QI) activity during the 2014 -16 triennium. This activity may be chosen from the suite of RACGP inherent QI activities, or developed by an Accredited Provider, or identified by the quality improvement reflection.

Activities the College recognises as inherently QI are:

  • Supervised clinical attachment (SCA)
  • Plan, do, study, act (PDSA)
  • Clinical audit
  • GP research
  • Evidence based medicine journal club (EBMJC)
  • Small group learning (SGL)

For more information go to the RACGP website or contact Helene Gilmore or 0418 491 245 at Western Victoria PHN.

Optimal care pathways for cancer

cancer council vic

On behalf of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, the Cancer Council Victoria has developed Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) for Cancer, which aims to facilitate the delivery of consistent and evidence-based cancer care for 15 specific tumours. The purpose of the pathways is to set care expectations by describing the type of care a person with cancer should be offered according to evidence-based practice. The OCPs will be adopted nationally.

The Cancer Council Victoria are on schedule to complete OCPs across 15 tumour streams with corresponding GP quick reference guides and quick reference consumer versions, by March 2016 (with 13 completed to date).

Clinical OCPs are available at www.cancer.org.au/OCP. The interactive consumer web portal with printable PDFs for patients is now live at www.cancerpathways.org.au.

Please note: The Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) have recently endorsed the published OCPs, enabling centralised structural support for implementation across Australia.

Tele-derm National offers free specialist advice

Tele-Derm is an internationally recognised online resource designed primarily to allow rural doctors to submit de-identified cases for free specialist advice on diagnosis and management by Dermatologists, Dr Jim Muir and Dr Rachael Foster. Online case studies, tips, and cases of the week are also available.

Tele-Derm is hosted through the ACRRM website and funded by the Department of Health, Rural Health Outreach Fund (RHOF).

ACRRM members and RRMEO subscribers can click the 'Enrol' button to gain access. Non ACRRM members / subscribers may be eligible for free access to Tele-derm, apply here for free access.

New diabetes society for primary care professionals

The University of Melbourne has announced the formation of the Primary Care Diabetes Society of Australia (PCDSA), chaired by Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne Associate Professor Mark Kennedy.

The not-for-profit society has been established to support primary health care professionals to deliver high quality clinically effective care, in order to improve the lives of people living with diabetes.

The majority of the one million people in Australia with diabetes receive most of their care in primary care, yet there is no primary care-based multidisciplinary society to support those health care practitioners.

Education will be a key role of the society. They are establishing a quarterly online journal, online continuing professional development and will hold the first annual conference in Melbourne on 30 April next year.

The PCDSA will also:

  • Share best practice in delivering quality diabetes care.
  • Provide high-quality education tailored to health professional needs.
  • Promote and participate in high quality research in diabetes.
  • Disseminate up-to-date, evidence-based information to health professionals.
  • Form partnerships and collaborate with other diabetes related, high level professional organisations committed to the care of people with diabetes.
  • Promote coordinated and timely interdisciplinary care.

Primary health care professionals can join the PCDSA and access the online journal via their website.

Membership of the PCDSA is free for Australian primary healthcare professionals who manage diabetes.

Palliative care resources on the CareSearch website

CareSearch is an Australian Government funded website designed to support health professionals involved in palliative care, as well as families and friends.

A range of resources are available including:

  • Separate CareSearch hubs for different health professionals (e.g. GP, Allied Health, nurses)
  • MyLearning - eLearning modules for health professionals
  • Videos
  • Patient, carers and family section, which aims to help community members understand the palliative care approach, find tools to assist with managing living with illness and to understand bereavement, grief and loss.

ACP Survey and legislative changes

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) welcomes all GPs to complete a survey to test their knowledge of the law as it relates to advance care planning (ACP). 

To ensure the survey maintains its integrity, DHHS will provide respondents with the answers to the survey questions in late January.

The Victorian Government has committed to enabling statutory recognition of advance care directives, so competent Victorians can document treatment preferences for existing and/or future conditions.

DHHS is currently considering the existing legislative framework and as part of this process is surveying doctors on their knowledge and understanding of current laws in Victoria.

Victorian osteoarthritis Model of Care initiative – Seeking responses

Practices within the Western Victoria region are invited to contribute to the development of the Model of Care for Osteoarthritis (OA). The project is being undertaken by St Vincent's Hospital under the auspices of the DHHS Musculoskeletal Clinical Leadership Group to develop a Model of Care for OA.

A key deliverable from this project is a documented Model of Care for OA and the development of resources to support its implementation in Victoria.

The need to address the issue relating to implementing evidence based practice change is a priority focus. Practices involved in the delivery of primary care to people who have OA are requested to complete an online survey by Friday 29 January 2016.

Asthma triggers over Christmas and Summer holidays

Over Christmas and the Summer holidays there are many triggers that can cause asthma and allergies.

The National Asthma Council Australia have released information to help control symptoms.

National Heart Foundation Tick to be retired

After 26 years the National Heart Foundation has decided to retire its “Tick” endorsement program. The Foundation has been working with Federal Government and other stakeholders to develop the Health Star Rating System, which was launched in December 2014. The program will be fully retired within the next 12-24 months.

Department of Health updates

Practice Incentives Accreditation

You no longer need to provide accreditation certificates to PIP. As long as your practice renews its accreditation certificate, these details are updated automatically. PIP receive accreditation details directly from the accrediting bodies for practices that are registered with the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) and the Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP).

You will still need to provide accreditation certificates if:

  • Your practice is applying for the PIP and/or PNIP.
  • Your practice is relocating, amalgamating with another practice or changing ownership.
  • Your practice is adding another location that provides more than 3000 MBS services.
  • You change your accrediting body.

For more information about accreditation requirements, go to humanservices.gov.au/pip or humanservices.gov.au/pnip.

Combined Practice Incentives forms

The Practice Incentives Individual general practitioner or nurse practitioner details form (IP003) has replaced the PIP Individual Practitioner details and PNIP Individual GP details forms.

From 1 January 2016, the Practice Incentives Individual general practitioner or nurse practitioner details form (IP003) will be the only form practices can use to add a practitioner.

It is important you use and submit the correct form. If you submit an old version of a form you will be asked to submit the correct version.

PIP will advise practices of new forms as they become available. For up-to-date forms go to humanservices.gov.au/hpforms and search under P for Practice Incentives.

Changes to the way you bill Healthy Kids Checks

From 1 November 2015, there were changes to the way you bill Healthy Kids Checks. Healthy Kids Checks must be billed under an MBS attendance item.

You can no longer bill Healthy Kids Checks under the following MBS health assessment items:

  • 701
  • 703
  • 705
  • 707

Item 10986 is no longer listed on the MBS. This item was for Healthy Kids Checks performed by a practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still eligible for a health assessment every 9 months under MBS item 715.

State and Territory funded infant health clinics can also provide health assessments for young children, at no cost to patients.

News for health professionals online

For Department of Health updates you can subscribe to news highlights for health professionals and receive email notifications of news articles sent to your email every month. You can opt out at any time.

APNA updates

  • The Department of Health has launched a consultation process on the National Immunisation Education Framework for health professionals. The Framework sets out practice standards that form core skills/knowledge required to operate as an independent immuniser. Public consultation on the draft Framework closes on Friday 22 January 2016. Members are welcome to contribute to APNA's response.
  • APNA offers a Transition to Practice program, which is scheduled to commence in April 2016. This is a structured 12 month transition program, with the aim of increasing the confidence, competency, skill and knowledge of nurses commencing work in primary health care settings. More information..


 2016 Allied Health CPD Scholarships


Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH), are offering Allied Health CPD Scholarships, applications are open now until 20 January 2016.

Please contact SARRAH on Toll Free number 1800 338 061 if you need further information regarding the NAHSSS scholarships.

Become a Nurse Immuniser

University of Melbourne’s Training in Immunisation and Travel Health for registered nurses is offered in semesters 1 and 2 in 2016. The programs are delivered via distance education. 

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence

Full day accreditation training courses.

Date: Sunday 28 February 2016
Venue: NHV Carlton


A pre requisite to attend the course is completion of Part 1 “Safer Opioid Prescribing” online. You will find the online link on the registration page for the full day workshop.

Rural Anaesthetists Conference 2016

Ballarat Health Services, in conjunction with the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) has organised a weekend meeting for Rural Anaesthetists. It is of interest to both Specialist Anaesthetists and GPA’s.

It includes the opportunity to attend ANZCA accredited workshops in “ Can’t intubate, Can’t Oxygenate” and in Regional anaesthesia.

Other topics of the meeting include;

  • Malignant Hyperthermia,
  • Local Anaesthetic toxicity
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Emergency Caesareans
  • Ironies in Anaesthesia
  • Smoking and Anaesthesia
  • Anticoagulants in the perioperative period
  • Obesity and Anaesthesia
  • Navigating the difficult airway
  • Controversies in sedation
  • Pricks, patches, posture and pills for the perfect puncture
  • Perioperative pain management in chronic pain patients
  • Discussion on Future Directions for Rural Anaesthetists
  • A problem based Learning Discussion

Accommodation is available, as is the golf course, at the RACV Goldfields Resort (previously the Novotel, Creswick)

Date: Saturday 5 - Sunday 6 March 2016
RACV Goldfields Resort, Creswick, Victoria

More information

Barwon South Western and Grampians Allied Health Conference 2016

Call for Abstracts

The Barwon South Western and Grampians Allied Health Conference Planning Committee would like to invite abstracts for the Barwon South Western and Grampians Allied Health Conference 2016. The conference is being held on Thursday, 21 April, 2016 at Federation University, Horsham campus. The theme of the conference is Facing the future: Innovation and collaboration in regional allied health.

Please click here to view the Call for Abstracts - Papers and posters guidelines, which includes a link to the survey monkey application for submitting an abstract. Please read through the guidelines carefully prior to writing an abstract.

The abstract applications are now open and close on Friday 5 February at 5pm. Any queries relating to abstracts should be directed to alliedhealth.conference@DHHS.vic.gov.au or phone either Dean Taylor P: 5333 6073 or Kate Breen P: 5226 4480.


Ballarat GP awarded Family Planning Victoria scholarship

We are delighted to announce that Ballarat GP, Dr Amy Litras from Ballarat Sexual Health Centre and Ballarat Group Practice has been awarded the scholarship for the 2016 FPAA National Certificate in Reproductive and Sexual Health for Doctors. Well done Amy!

Grampians Region Highway Model of Continuing Nurse and Midwifery education event

The art of living with PEP (passion, empowerment and peace) in our step for staff working within healthcare.

When: Thursday 11 February, 2016
Time: 9.30am - 4pm
Venue: RACV Goldfields Resort

More information

Safer Opioid Prescribing in General Practice - Ballarat

When: Thursday 21 April, 2016
Time: 7pm - 9:30pm
Venue: Ballarat Community Health Centre, 12 Lilburn Street, Lucas 

This evening session is Part 1 of the Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence Program. Completion of this module provides participants the opportunity to attend an advanced full day training session accrediting participants to prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone for more than 5 patients or methadone.

This workshop is provided free of charge through funding provided by ORTicare - Grampians and Loddon Mallee Pharmacotherapy Network, Mallee Primary Health Care Network and an education grant provided by Indivior Pharmaceuticals who have not influenced the content in any way.

Follow up support will be provided to all health professionals after this workshop.


Suicide Prevention Workshop

Wesley LifeForce will be conducting two Suicide Prevention Workshops.

  • Thursday 3 March 2016 9am - 1pm - Craig’s Royal Hotel Ballarat, 10 Lydiard St, Ballarat VIC REGISTER
  • Friday 4 March 2016 9am - 1pm - Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel, 124 Main Rd, Hepburn Springs VIC REGISTER

There is no charge to attend the workshop.

The program helps participants recognise when a person may be having thoughts of suicide, and provides a simple strategy to intervene and assist them.

The training is open to community members aged over 18 years.

Each participant will receive a certificate of attendance as well as support materials.

Morning Tea will be provided.

For further information contact: Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Program P: 1800 100 024, Fax: 02 8922 9096 


HealthPathways news

HealthPathways logo

New Live Pathways:

  • Memory Assessment (clinic information)
  • Thyroid Disease in Pregnancy
  • Referral to Dental Services

Recently reviewed: Developmental concerns in children. Acute Asthma in children.

The first clinical stream in 2016 is oncology, if you are interested in participating please contact the HealthPathways co-ordinator: margie.mcleod@westvicphn.com.au 

To stay up to date on the latest locally agreed guidelines and service information.  Save HealthPathways on your desktop as a favourite and shortcut.

Contact HealthPathways if you need password details or more information.

We value your feedback and input. Please use the “Send Feedback” on any page to send us a message about current pathways, or suggest a new pathway or clinical stream.

Clinical Attachment Program

Vacancies exist for GPs who are interested in participating in the clinical attachment program in Geelong. (40 category one points are available upon completion of 10 hours).

This program offers GPs an opportunity to attend a clinical setting, to learn or update specific skills or areas of knowledge. Hours and days of attendance are flexible; GPs identify which area they would like to work in. 

More information

Lake Imaging - extended hours for urgent x-rays

Lake Imaging are offering the following extended hours for urgent x-rays at the St John of God Hospital site:

  • Monday – Friday 8am - 8pm
  • Saturday and Sunday 9am – 5pm

Standard billing for x-ray examinations will apply:

  • Concession card holders: Bulk Billed
  • Private patients: minimum gap $65; maximum gap $135.

Please note a surcharge of $75 will apply for ALL patients x-rayed:

  • After 1pm Saturday
  • All day Sunday and Public Holidays

Images will be available for review on Visage, and a report will be delivered to you the next business day.

Please ask your patient to:

  • Return to you for review of x-rays and follow-up treatment, or
  • Present to St. John of God Emergency Department for review by an Emergency Physician and appropriate management and referral. An out of pocket expense of $195 will be incurred*, *Department of Veterans’ Affairs will cover this fee for Gold Card holders. Private health insurance and Medicare do not cover this fee. , or
  • Present to University Hospital Geelong Emergency Department for review and management.

While walk-in patients are accepted, to avoid delays phone 5273 1300 to make an appointment.

For more information contact Jim Petros or 5273 1200.

Closure of Dr Chris Corcos' private psychiatry practice at Barwon Health

Dr Chris Corcos, psychiatrist, is closing his private practice at the end of January 2016. He is now no longer accepting referrals.

For alternative referral options please refer to the list of private psychiatrists available from the PHN website.

Primary Mental Health Partners also offer a range of mental health services. Further details regarding services and eligibility are contained within this fact sheet.


Community consultations for drought affected communities

The Victorian Government is running an online forum in support of drought affected communities in our region. The online forum closes Sunday 31 January 2016.

Grampians Region Highway Model of Continuing Nurse and Midwifery education event

The art of living with PEP (passion, empowerment and peace) in our step for staff working within healthcare.

When: Tuesday 9 February, 2016
Time: 9.30am - 4pm
Venue: Grains Innovation Park

More information

Sexual and Reproductive Health Updates 2016

womens health grampians

  • Horsham – 17 February 2016
  • Stawell – 3 March 2016
  • Ballarat – 16 March 2016

Presented by Family Planning Victoria Medical and Nursing staff.

Women’s Health Grampians are hosting free full day professional development seminar for nurses, doctors and any other interested community or healthcare workers.

Curriculum includes:

  • Pregnancy testing and unplanned pregnancy options
  • Overview of the unplanned pregnancy and abortion service sector in Victoria
  • Abortion clinical practice overview: consultation, medical and surgical abortion; contraception; LARC and post-operative care
  • Support women’s decision making
  • Contraception and sexually transmitted infections update

For more information contact Women’s Health Grampians p: 5322 4100.