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National News Australia

Federal Government commitment to bulk billed telehealth psychiatry consultations a step forward for rural and regional Australia

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 Federal Government commitment to bulk billed telehealth psychiatry consultations a step forward for rural and regional Australia 

The Federal Government’s announcement today that it is restoring bulk billed telehealth psychiatry consultations for Australians living outside metro areas is a promising first step towards improving the accessibility and affordability of mental health services for all Australians, the peak body for psychiatrists in Australia says.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, said the Federal Government’s reinstatement of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Item 288, as promised before the election, should be seen as the beginning of wider reform to provide affordable access to psychiatry.

“The removal of bulk-billed telehealth compounded existing economic inequities by burdening patients with unaffordable gap-fees and out-of-pocket costs and while affordability is still a major issue across the board, this reinstatement is a step in the right direction,” Associate Professor Lakra said.

“The RANZCP has been very vocal about the need for the Federal Government to address access to mental health services broadly and reinstating the bulk-billing arrangements for those living in regional and rural Australia is one of the measures that will make a difference.

Associate Professor Lakra said the RANZCP has been advocating for a number of measures to address systemic issues in the mental health system and deliver affordable access to a psychiatrist for those facing both geographic and socioeconomic disadvantage.

Among the measures being advocated for by the RANZCP include the reinstatement of multiple MBS items for telephone-based consultations. Their expiry on 1 July 2022 has deprived those unable to afford a full-cost treatment access to a longer consultation with a psychiatrist.

“There remain serious gaps to affordable mental health care access across both rural and metropolitan areas. Every Australian should be able to access the support they need for their mental health and wellbeing.

“The RANZCP looks forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure further measures are put in place to expand bulk-billing arrangements for all Australians who face financial disadvantage.

“It’s never been more important that we make accessing mental health support as affordable and accessible as possible to everyone, regardless of how much they earn or where they live”.

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

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Fit for the Long Haul: NHVR Urges Truck Drivers to Prioritise Well-Being This Men’s Health Week

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Fit for the Long Haul: NHVR Urges Truck Drivers to Prioritise Well-Being This Men’s Health Week

 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is urging truck drivers to prioritise their mental and physical health during Men’s Health Week.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto OAM highlighted the unique challenges truck drivers face, such as long hours on the road and extended periods away from family and friends. “Men’s Health Week is a crucial time for truck drivers to reflect on their well-being and make it a top priority,” Mr. Petroccitto said.

Truck drivers are vital to Australia’s logistics network, but the demands of the industry can take a toll on their health. Long periods of sitting and the isolating nature of the job contribute to higher rates of mental and physical health issues among heavy vehicle drivers.

“It’s imperative for all truck drivers to remember that their mental and physical health comes first,” Mr. Petroccitto emphasised. He advised drivers to manage their health by exercising, eating healthy foods, and getting enough rest and sleep.

The NHVR is calling on industry partners to support a culture that values the mental health of truck drivers and reduces the stigma associated with seeking help. Through the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative program, the NHVR is enhancing mental health resources for truck drivers, including funding projects like OzHelp Foundation’s Health in Gear program.

OzHelp CEO Caroline Walsh noted the high risk of suicide among truck drivers, the second-highest industry group at risk in Australia. The Health in Gear program offers on-road presence, online support, information, and counselling services for transport and logistics workers.

“Truck drivers need to know that while the road may be long, they are never alone,” Ms. Walsh said. OzHelp provides free counselling and 24/7 phone support for transport and logistics workers and their families at 1800 464 327.

For more information on the NHVR’s initiatives and resources available for truck drivers, visit the NHVR website.

 

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Local News

KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM FOR ACTION ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM FOR ACTION ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

By Janelle Saffin MP, Member for Lismore

I have fought for action on domestic violence for more than 40 years.

Recent horrific cases of domestic violence murders have led to a public outcry and media campaigns for action. I welcome the Minns Government announcement of a $230 million emergency package for DV prevention and support.

BUT we must keep up this momentum and not go quiet on this issue.  I want to share with you this excerpt of what I said in the last session of Parliament. (Edited for length)

DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE

Ms JANELLE SAFFIN (Lismore) (20:16): Domestic violence must stop. We all know it. We all say it. Molly should not have died, and her death cannot be in vain. There is a willingness and mobilisation on behalf of the whole community that I have not seen in the more than 40 years I have been involved in advocacy around domestic violence. I thought when I came back to this place that I could do some other things—but I cannot. I absolutely have to re-engage with everyone on trying to stop domestic violence.

Domestic violence is more than the physical act of violence; it is a spectrum of behaviour. In sociological terms, the spectrum extends from circumlocution—the derogatory comments, the bad words, the put‑downs—to extermination, which is murder. Women experience domestic violence right across that whole spectrum. It is not just being a little bit scared; it is living with terror. That absolute terror dominates those women’s lives at the hands of someone who is supposed to be a loving partner—someone they love. It is “What do I wear? What do I think? What do I do? Who do I talk to? Who do I text, because my phone will be monitored?”. Family and friends are moved away, but the perpetrator makes it look like the woman is doing that. Every act is under subjugation.

For women in that situation, it is like living with a sometimes benevolent dictator. Everything they do is circumscribed. It is hard to imagine raising children in that environment. These things have happened for a long time. I set up the Far North Coast Domestic Violence Liaison Committee. I worked in a refuge for years. Earlier, I have been at the forefront of changes, including changes to the laws. There was a Crimes Act, but women were not seen as worthy of protection under that law.

I was looking at the headlines and I thought, I hope they do not disappear quickly like they often do on this issue. I will read some of those headlines: “We’re sick of living in terror”, “This has to stop”, “How many more women have to die?”, “It was murder waiting to happen”, ,,”Time to tackle this crisis in our community”, “‘You get ostracised in a small town if you speak out'”—if you are the domestic violence victim. We know that it can happen anywhere, but it happens to a greater degree in some of those smaller country towns. “Why country women are sitting ducks”, “Misogyny driving violence” “It’s time for men to get uncomfortable”, and “Bush in plea for more DV support”.

The headlines go on and on. (..) I note that in the package the Government has introduced we are looking at perpetrator behaviour. We have to do that. I wish I had 50 minutes, not 5 minutes, to talk about this.

Dr Hugh McDermott: Five hours.

Ms JANELLE SAFFIN: Yes, five hours. We need to open up. On International Women’s Day I said, “We’re so sedate. It’s so polite. We’re having these wonderful lunches. Aren’t we lovely?” I said, “We need to be on the street screaming.” That is what I am doing here.

Link to full speech here.

 

For more National Australia News, visit here.

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US giant Hard Rock flatly denies a takeover for The Star

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US giant Hard Rock flatly denies a takeover for The Star

 

Hard Rock International has unequivocally denied any involvement in a takeover bid for The Star Entertainment Group (ASX: SGR). The US-based casino and hospitality giant released an official statement overnight refuting claims that it is part of a consortium aiming to acquire the Australian casino operator.

The denial came in response to a statement from The Star, which suggested that Hard Rock was part of a group exploring a “potential transaction” with the company.
“Hard Rock International wants to clarify that it is not engaged in, nor has it authorized, any discussions, activities, or negotiations related to a proposed bid for The Star,” the company stated. “Furthermore, Hard Rock International has not permitted the use of its brand in any proposed bid for The Star by any third party.”

This rebuttal has created confusion, as The Star’s previous statement identified Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts (Pacific) as part of the consortium, implying a connection to Hard Rock.

The US company strongly disputed this claim, even suggesting potential misuse of its brand. “Our brand is built on a legacy of integrity, excellence, and a commitment to our guests, partners, and team members worldwide,” Hard Rock stated. “Any unauthorized use of the Hard Rock name in business dealings is taken very seriously. We are currently investigating this matter and will take all necessary legal actions to protect our brand and reputation.”

Hard Rock urged stakeholders and the public to rely solely on official communications from Hard Rock International for accurate information regarding its business activities and partnerships.

The Star responded briefly to Hard Rock’s statement but did not provide further clarification. The company reiterated that it had not received any proposal directly from Hard Rock International.

“The Star confirms that it has not engaged in substantive discussions with the consortium regarding its proposal,” The Star stated. The company acknowledged Hard Rock International’s statement, which clarified its non-involvement in any discussions or negotiations related to a proposal for The Star.

The Star’s initial statement followed media speculation about a potential takeover or recapitalisation plan amid a second Bell inquiry into the company’s suitability to hold a casino license in NSW. The news of a possible transaction led to a 20% increase in The Star’s share price, closing at 54 cents.

 

For more business news, click here.

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