According to the latest self-rating of our health status, 85 per cent of Australians regard their health to be 'excellent', 'very good' or 'good', with people living longer than ever before and death rates continuing to fall.

However, in the past 12 months, some 19 per cent have a disability, 20 per cent a mental health disorder, and 50 at least one chronic disease. Lifestyle factors are a recurring theme of Australia's health 2016 report the latest two-yearly snapshot issued today (13 Sept) by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report shows that 13 per cent of the adult population smokes daily,18 per cent consume alcohol at risky levels, and 95 per cent do not eat the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables.

Senator Sussan Ley

The interim report of the Federal Government’s clinician-led review of all 5700 items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) has found that one in every four surveyed patients believed they or an acquaintance had received, or been recommended to have, an unnecessary consultation, medical procedure or test.

The report released on 6 Sept by the Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley resulted from consultations with 2000-plus health professionals and patients across stakeholder forums, written submissions and an online survey.

Health behaviours of many 45-64 year olds ‘do not bode well’

An acclaimed but now-shelved program of The University of Sydney has left a valuable legacy to general practice in Australia, with its final two reports on the clinical activity of GPs focusing on the impact of chronic disease and health status of 45-64 year olds.

After 18 years of continuous data collection the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health project, known as BEACH, closed recently. It was run out of the Family Medicine Research Centre in the Sydney School of Public Health, and its mine of data will continue to be available at the FMRC website.  

The latest BEACH reports, General Practice Activity in Australia 2015–16 and a decade of general practice activity 2006–07 to 2015–16, provide a valuable snapshot of the changing demands on practitioners, even if they deliver few surprises.

Social Futures launch

It may be a late starter in streamlining its moniker but for the past 40 years the Northern Rivers Social Development Council has stayed ahead of the game in every other way, becoming the provider of the most diverse range of social services in the region.

From today it will be known as Social Futures - “Thriving People/Strong Communities” - with an ‘infinity’ logo that encapsulates the optimism to help clients in areas such as disability and housing who are supported by the NGOs under its umbrella.

Great Wall of China

A total of 25 health and exercise science students from Southern Cross University will undertake study and work placements in Vietnam and China next year with the held of Australian Government grants.

Announcing the support, the federal MP for Page, Kevin Hogan said the placements are part of the New Colombo Plan program aimed at fostering a better understanding of Asia-Pacific countries by Australian students.

The ‘old’ Colombo Plan, launched in 1951 and continuing to a lesser degree today, was focused on sponsoring Asian students to come to Australia for their studies. The new version has been sparked by the realisation that Australians lack knowledge about the countries where our economic, and perhaps cultural future lies.