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Health News

LOCALS’ CONCERNS ABOUT THE COVID-POSITIVE CASES AT CHINDERAH AS NSW HEALTH CONFIRMS “SEVERAL PEOPLE” ARE ISOLATING IN ORGANISED ACCOMMODATION

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LOCALS’ CONCERNS ABOUT THE COVID-POSITIVE CASES AT CHINDERAH AS NSW HEALTH CONFIRMS

LOCALS’ CONCERNS ABOUT THE COVID-POSITIVE CASES AT CHINDERAH AS NSW HEALTH CONFIRMS “SEVERAL PEOPLE” ARE ISOLATING IN ORGANISED ACCOMMODATION

Margaret Dekker

There’s mounting concern across the Tweed Valley the two COVID-19 positive cases detected at the Ampol Northbound Service Station at Chinderah last week were not truck drivers as widely assumed.

An initial alert from NSW Health stated the pair had attended the “Chinderah truck stop” overnight.

Tweed Shire Councillor Warren Polglase told The Northern Rivers Times he’s been contacted by a number of people in the Tweed concerned about the identities of the COVID-positive pair and what they were doing at the service station between 8:30pm on Tuesday, July 13 and 7:30am on Wednesday July 14.

“Maybe there’s a bigger issue here than is being let on, and NSW Health is keeping a lid on it until it gets all the test results back,” Cr Polglase said.
Cr Polglase also said of the 40 people contacted by NSW Health for testing, some were from Murwillumbah. He believes residents of Far North NSW have a right to know if they are at heightened risk.

“If it was mentioned there was an issue or concern, awareness would increase dramatically he said.”

In a statement, Acting Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District, Lynne Weir said

“There are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents of Northern NSW Local Health District, nor any confirmed cases isolating here.
Several people are completing their 14 days of isolation in accommodation arranged by NSW Health with the assistance of NSW Police and the North Coast Public Health Unit, after being identified as close contacts at the Ampol Service Station in Chinderah at the same time as positive COVID-19 cases.
The accommodation has been arranged so that the individuals have suitable accommodation to be able to isolate properly.

These isolation accommodation arrangements provide a secure and supportive environment for these guests.

All guests will undergo the required testing during isolation, and will receive regular wellbeing checks from NSW Health,” the statement by Lynne Weir, A/Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District said.

A spokesperson from NSW Health said owing to privacy, NSW Health does not comment on individual cases and unless there is reason for the community to be concerned, it will not be providing further comment.

But Cr Polglase said the community is concerned.

“People want to know where these people in isolation are, are they in a house next to me? The state government should be honest and clear in their interpretation as to what is taking place,” Cr Polglase said.

“We basically need to know what is going on from Gladys Berejiklian,” he said.

Cr Polglase said he was particularly concerned given the Tweed Shire’s ageing population who he believed would be on tenterhooks.
Federal Labor member for Richmond Justine Elliot told The Northern Rivers Times “everything” about the handling of this COVID-19 exposure site concerns her.

“Everything about it concerns me, the lack of information about where the infected pair were before they were at the service station, where they went afterwards, we have no answers on that,” Justine Elliot said.

“All the close contacts, have any tested positive, how many are in quarantine, and what are the specifics of the quarantine and is it secure?” she asked.
Justin Elliot described it as a “massive fail” by the NSW Government to provide crucial information to residents of northern NSW and called on the NSW Government to come clean, given the detail provided on other COVID-19 exposure sites in the state.

She said the Tweed’s vulnerable situation also illustrated the need for a dedicated ‘Border Zone’ to better protect the people of northern NSW.
“It is just inexcusable, treating our community with such contempt, I call on Tweed MP Geoff Provest to respond,” Justine Elliot said.

Member for Tweed Geoff Provest told The Northern Rivers Times he had spoken to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Wednesday afternoon asking for more detail about the accommodation “several people” are now isolating in after the Chinderah exposure site, and added he was also concerned.
“I will have more details for the public on Thursday morning,” Geoff Provest, Member for Tweed, said.

Health News

COVID-19 vaccinations essential to protect people living with dementia

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COVID-19 vaccinations essential to protect people living with dementia

COVID-19 vaccinations essential to protect people living with dementia

Dementia Australia supports mandatory vaccinations across the aged care sector and urges people living with dementia or mild cognitive impairment, and their loved ones, to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said people living with dementia or mild cognitive impairment are more vulnerable to contracting severe COVID-19 and once infected, have a high risk of disease-related morbidity and mortality.

“We know that during this pandemic people living with dementia are some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” Ms McCabe said.

Dementia Australia Honorary Medical Advisor Associate Professor Michael Woodward AM said recent research on the impact of the pandemic shows that people living with dementia, especially those in residential aged care, are at risk of worsening dementia and psychiatric symptoms, and severe behavioural disturbances because of lockdown measures and social isolation.

“We need high levels of vaccination across the sector and in the community to protect people living with dementia or mild cognitive impairment, their families and carers,” Assoc Prof Woodward said.
“Mandatory vaccination of the aged care workforce will reassure people impacted by dementia and their families that they are supported by people who are vaccinated and significantly less likely to spread the virus.”

“Residential aged care workers are leading Australia’s overall vaccination rates, and these numbers continue to grow. We acknowledge our aged care workers for leading the community in being vaccinated.”
Dementia Advocate Bobby Redman, who is living with dementia, said, “Home-care workers often visit the homes of many different clients each week.

“I feel much safer knowing that, as a condition of employment, my carers are now vaccinated and keeping us safe.”

People living with dementia, their families and carers have told Dementia Australia that despite the high levels of vaccination of staff and residents, some residential aged care homes have still not been able to offer appropriate alternatives to essential visits and this has resulted in poor physical and psychological outcomes for residents with dementia.

“During this time, the aged care sector is under increasing stress. For those impacted by dementia, there will be an added layer of anxiety,” Ms McCabe said.

“A focus on promoting social engagement to restore mental health and wellbeing as we move beyond lockdown solutions is in everybody’s best interests.

“Dementia Australia is here to support the 472,000 Australians living with dementia and the 1.6 million people involved in their care. Please get in touch with our National Dementia Helpline as questions and concerns arise, on 1800 100 500 or visit dementia.org.au for webchat, resources and information in other languages.”

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Suicide prevention approach to be updated in light of COVID-19 and bushfire impacts

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

Suicide prevention approach to be updated in light of COVID-19 and bushfire impacts

The Mental Health Commission of NSW will lead an update of the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-2023 in the wake of a series of destructive natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic during the past two years.

Australian Bureau of Statistics annual figures released today show that 876 people died due to suicide in NSW during 2020, at a rate of 10.5 suicides per 100,000 people. While this is a decrease from 937 suicide deaths at a rate of 11.4 per 100,000 in 2019, it is far too high and underscores the continued need for prevention to be a top priority.

NSW provides its own monthly reporting of suicides across the state through the Suicide Monitoring and Reporting System which provides estimates on suspected and confirmed numbers, using data collected from NSW Police and the State Coroner. This provides regular and timely information and records that in 2020 there were 896 people reported as suspected suicide deaths in NSW. This number varies slightly from the ABS report, which counts the number of people whose suicides have been confirmed or are being finalised through the coronial process. Taken together, they confirm that continued effort and focus is needed in the ongoing priority to reduce suicide in the community.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey said while it is too early to gauge the impact of the COVID pandemic or natural disasters based on the 2020 data released, there are a number of emerging trends creating concern.

“While we do not yet have clear data on the impact of natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates, we are seeing increased demand for suicide prevention support services, increased mental health presentations in emergency departments, and greater use of mental health services booked through Medicare.

“Families, friends and communities across NSW are devastated by the impact of suicide, with an estimated 17 lives lost each week. These are not just statistics, each number is a person with their own story leaving bereaved loved ones behind. Tragically, suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15–44 years,” Ms Lourey said.

“In updating the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW the lived experience of people who have lived with suicidal thoughts or through a suicidal crisis, those bereaved by suicide and people caring for those who live with suicidal thoughts will be critical to our review. Together with other stakeholders and experts, we will be able to look behind the data to understand what’s really happening in our communities, what people’s own experience sheds light on and what types of interventions and support are most effective.”

The Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-2023 launched in 2018 was followed by the Premier’s Priority Towards Zero Suicides Initiative which aims to reduce the suicide rate by 20 per cent from 2018 to 2023. This Initiative has provided $87 million to leading practice crisis care and support, building local community resilience and improving systems and practices to reduce the suicide rate in NSW. Additional funding has been provided in response to increased demand, including $8 million for programs in regional NSW.

The updated Framework will provide a set of key directions for a five year, whole of Government strategy to reduce the rate of suicide, draw upon best evidence and contemporary service approaches, build upon the work achieved under the Towards Zero Suicides initiative, and embed community responses and the voice of lived experience of suicide, suicidality, bereavement and caring.

Ms Lourey said consultation will begin shortly with people with lived experience, the community, the NSW Ministry of Health, lead Government agencies, the community managed sector and expert organisations.

Today’s ABS figures show suicide remains the leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, 25-34 and 35-44 years in NSW. The suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at 21.6 is twice that of non-indigenous people which is 9.8. The suicide rate in rural and regional NSW is 15.4, which is twice that of Greater Sydney at 8.1. Involving these communities in the update of the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention will also be essential.

NOTE: The ABS counts suicides that have been confirmed or are being finalised through the coronial process while the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System provides estimates on suspected and confirmed suicides in NSW, using data collected from NSW Police and the State Coroner. See the latest NSW Suicide Monitoring System data at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/resources/Publications/sums-report-jun-2021.pdf

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Prevention and early intervention critical to ending the cycle of family mental illness

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

Prevention and early intervention critical to ending the cycle of family mental illness

An international group of researchers led by Monash University have developed a series of principles and recommendations to assist children whose parents are living with a mental illness.

The team of researchers have found that due to a range of factors, children whose parent/s have a mental illness are at risk for their own mental health problems and recommend that mental health services deliver support for the whole family and not only to individuals.

Children whose parents have mental illness are between two to 13 times more likely to develop a mental illness themselves, to be less school-ready, to present with higher rates of physical injury, more likely to be taken into care, and more likely to develop health conditions such as asthma.

Professor Andrea Reupert, from the School of Educational Psychology and Counselling in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, says children whose parents have mental illnesses are among the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Currently the delivery of evidence-based interventions to support these children have been limited by a lack of adequate support structures. We believe a major service reorientation is required to better meet the needs of these vulnerable children and their families. Accordingly, we’ve outlined a number of recommendations for practice, organisational and systems change to enable this,” said Professor Reupert.

The key recommendations outlined in the position paper, which was recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, include:

Child and adolescent-orientated services need to ask whether parents of clients have mental health concerns, ascertain the impact of the parent’s illness on the child, engage with parents to identify, and respond to, their needs and/or initiate and coordinate agency referrals for them
Adult orientated services should identify parenting status, engage with clients in their parenting role and responsibilities, engage with clients’ children to identify, and respond appropriately to their needs and/or initiate and coordinate agency referrals for children
Child and adolescent as well as adult-oriented services need to assess family strengths and needs, including the quality and quantity of family supports, parenting strengths and vulnerabilities, provide age-appropriate information about the parent’s mental illness to children, parents and other family members and consult with children and other family members when or if the parent is hospitalised, and monitor and follow up with of children and other family members, especially at key developmental milestones
Professor Darryl Maybery, from the Monash School of Rural Health in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, says current practices need a complete overhaul so mental health support services are based on family needs rather than individualistic models of care.

“The paper specifically outlines the critical need for appropriate prevention and early intervention initiatives to be provided to children and parents living with parental mental illness. We provide clear direction to inform workforce and systemic change,” said Professor Maybery.

Professor Kim Foster, from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine at the Australian Catholic University, says the paper directly addresses recommendations from the National Mental Health Productivity Commission Report and the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, to provide child and adult mental health services that better meet the needs of these children and families.

“Applying the principles and recommendations from the paper will help services improve the quality of life and outcomes for children and families living with parental mental illness,” said Professor Foster.

Representing seven countries, the 24 authors of the position paper are research experts in the field of parental mental illness and are part of the Prato Collaborative for Change in Parent and Child Mental Health, which aims to contribute to the evidence base for these children and families and promote change at clinician, workforce, and systems levels.

To view the research paper, please visit: https://bit.ly/3ifJXNq

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