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Health News

Share the Dignity

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It's in the Bag

Share the Dignity

Bagging a Christmas Miracle: Share the Dignity call on generosity of community to meet increased demand from women & girls in need
Share the Dignity is calling on New South Wales residents to support women and girls in need this Christmas through their annual #ItsInTheBag Christmas appeal, encouraging people to donate a filled bag and drop off at their local Bunnings store between Friday 19 November and Sunday 28 November 2021.

Share the Dignity

Share the Dignity

The initiative, which is now in its seventh year, aims to ensure that every woman and girl in need receives a Christmas gift, a gift of the basic essentials – including pads and/or tampons, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner and soap – as well as little luxuries such as hair accessories or a handwritten note.
With COVID-19 pushing more women and girls below the poverty line, and at greater risk of homelessness and domestic violence, #ItsInTheBag donations are in high demand, due to the persistent COVID-19 lockdowns and financial stress impacting many Australians, Share the Dignity Founder and Managing Director, Rochelle Courtenay, said the charity was preparing for another donation deficit in 2021.
“We saw the impact of COVID-19 on our collection last year – nationally, we received 50,000 fewer bags in 2020, compared to 2019. This just shows the strain on those who might not be able to donate at this time, but the need is still there – in fact, we are seeing more vulnerable women and girls looking for support than ever before,” Ms. Courtenay said.
Share the Dignity New South Wales Team Leader, Leanne Pitt-Barile added “We are expecting requests for bags this year to hit 35,000 and I know meeting those requests will be a challenge this year”.
“For many, this is the only gift they will receive this Christmas, so I encourage everyone to give in whatever way they can – that might be putting together a bag, sponsoring a bag online, or even donating the essential items, every little bit helps,” Ms. Pitt-Barile said.
Gabi Alosi received an #ItsInTheBag donation when she found herself homeless at the age of 22 and knows first-hand how a simple gift can provide hope and dignity.
“I experienced homelessness through my mental health. I had a suicide attempt and wasn’t allowed to come back to my residence. So, I ended up in a youth homeless shelter. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody else,” Gabi said.
“The bag made me feel incredibly loved and cared for, and that was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time either from myself or others. It meant a lot to me that people felt that I even deserved to receive a bag, and that they were proud of me for moving forward in my life.”
Bunnings’ General Manager – Operations Ryan Baker said they were proud to support Share the Dignity’s #ItsInTheBag appeal for the fifth year running, with the annual appeal collecting over 500,000 bags to date.
“Our team and customers are excited to once again be getting behind this important campaign to help support some of Australia’s most vulnerable women and girls.
“It’s been another tough year with communities facing the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 alongside many other challenges. We know the need for support in the community is bigger than ever before and we are proud to play a small part in helping Share the Dignity to continue the great work they do,” continued Ryan.
“Our team love this campaign, with the decoration of the collection boxes hitting new creative heights each year. If they are able to, we encourage our team and customers to donate and drop a bag in the collection box at their local Bunnings to help make a difference to women and girls in need,” said Ryan.
Those wanting to support women and girls like Gabi can drop-off an #ItsInTheBag donation to their nearest Bunnings store from 19-28 November 2021 or Sponsor a Bag online. Donations will be distributed to women and girls in need in time for Christmas via Share the Dignity’s charity partners.

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Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM wins International Good Design Award

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Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM
Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM

Aussie-invented NeedleCalmTM wins International Good Design Award

Australia’s world-leading medical invention helping reduce pain and fear around needle procedures, including the Covid19 vaccine, NeedleCalmTM, was announced today as a winner of Australia’s peak international design awards during the 2021 Good Design Awards Week.
NeedleCalmTM’s ‘Needle Desensitising Device’ received a prestigious Good Design Award Winner Accolade in the Product Design category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation.
The Good Design Awards are the highest honour for design and innovation in the country and reward projects across 12 design disciplines and 30 subcategories.
The Good Design Awards Jury commented: “Given about 1 in 10 people are afraid of needles, this is a positive approach to overcoming a common problem. The discreet aesthetics of the device and its similarity to a sticky plaster may assist in uptake and the technique of activating alternate pain receptor pathways is clever too.”
Melbourne-headquartered NeedleCalmTM earlier this year launched their breakthrough Australian medical device assisting with the reduction of needle-associated pain with injection, immunisation, venepuncture and catheterisation procedures often associated with vaccinations, blood donations and tests, and cancer treatment.
This includes helping treat Trypanophobia – the fear of needles – as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders[i] in the Blood Injury and Injections (BII) category.
Lauren Barber, CEO and Founder of NeedleCalmTM, said receiving such a prestigious award showed Australian medical technology could cut it with the rest of the world in terms of innovation, ingenuity, and quality.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to help Australia close the gate on Covid19, particularly with the prospect of helping vaccinating children in safer, faster and less stressful way for kids, parents and medical practioners alike,” Ms Barber said.
“However, Covid19 is just one minor part of the potential to improve healthcare take up and efficiency long-term, with NeedleCalmTM able to be used in an estimated 60% – or 76 million – needle procedures in Australia each year.
“Awards like Good Design Australia are essential because they help increase medical and public confidence in not only our product, but also the quality of the growing revolution of Australian-made and invented medical devices.”
Dr. Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia said: “Receiving an Australian Good Design Award is testament to embedding design excellence at the heart of a product, service, place or experience. Although 2021 continues to be another challenging year, it is incredibly inspiring to see designers and businesses working together to find innovative, customer-centric design solutions to local and global challenges and to see them recognised and rewarded for their efforts through these prestigious Awards.”
“The importance of embracing good design principles is now more important than ever as many businesses around the world have had to completely re-think their business strategies to remain competitive. The standard of design excellence represented in this year’s Awards is the best I’ve ever seen in my 25 years of running these Awards, an encouraging sign that the design sector is flourishing,” Dr. Gien went on to say.
NeedleCalmTM is a Class 1 medical device approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and was developed in part with support from the NSW Government’s Minimum Viable Product Grant program and Federal Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative (MTPConnect)[ii].
NeedleCalmTM is Australian-owned and manufactured and can be used in over 60 per cent of Australia’s approximately 128 million needle procedures carried out annually. It can be used at various injection sites across the body, including, but not limited to, arms, abdomens, buttocks and thighs.
For interviews with NeedleCalmTM Founder Lauren Barber or other enquiries, please contact: Troy Bilsborough (Provocate): 0427 063 150, +61 7 3058 0033 or troy.bilsborough@provocate.com.au

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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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