New strategy and research centre to support Australians with eating disorders

For the first time, Australia has a 10-year strategy which will guide critical research and transform how we treat and care for nearly one million Australians who suffer from bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders.
Today the Morrison Government is launching the Australian Eating Disorder Research and Translation Strategy 2021–2031. The Strategy, which has been developed under a $4 million federal grant by the InsideOut Institute, identifies the top 10 priority areas in greatest need of additional research.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said eating disorders were serious, complex and life-threatening mental illnesses and the Strategy provides a clear national approach to ensuring best-practice prevention, early intervention, and treatment now and in the future.
“At any given time, approximately one million Australians, or around four per cent of the population, are living with an eating disorder,” Minister Hunt said.
“Tragically, eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness, with anorexia being the deadliest of all mental health conditions.”
“Strengthening eating disorder research and translation in Australia will ensure that we find and deliver the latest and best possible support for those impacted and their families and carers. It will lead to significant improvements in the wellbeing of those with an eating disorder and, most importantly, will save lives.”
The 10 research priorities identified in the Strategy are prevention, risk and protective factors, early identification, equity of access, treatment outcomes, individualised medicine, family support, early intervention, positive and negative treatment impacts, stigma and health promotion.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said eating disorders are extremely complex and we need to do a lot more to better understand them.
“The 2021-22 Budget also provided a further $26.9 million for eating disorder research and support, including $13 million to establish a National Eating Disorder Research Centre,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.
“This new dedicated centre of excellence will lead ground-breaking research to help advance our understanding of eating disorders and the most effective approaches to prevention, early intervention and treatment. It will also ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of the international efforts to combat these devastating illnesses.”
A grant opportunity will open on September 22 to identify an organisation, or a consortium of organisations, to lead the establishment of the research centre. Grant guidelines will be published on Grant Connect at www.grants.gov.au.
The Morrison Government has made mental health a national priority, and since 2018 has delivered unprecedented support for eating disorder research, support and treatment. This includes historic investments such as $110.7 million to provide up to 40 Medicare-subsidised psychological and 20 dietetic therapy sessions, $63 million for establishment of a national network of residential eating disorders treatment centres, $5 million for research through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), and $13.4 million for the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC).
Through the $2.3 billion National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan in the 2021-22 Budget, the Morrison Government continues to transform the mental health system to ensure that all Australians can access, high-quality, person-centred care when and where it is needed.
If you or anyone you know is concerned about eating disorder or body image issues, you can contact the Butterfly Foundation’s national eating disorders helpline, ED Hope, on 1800 33 4673 or through www.butterfly.org.au.
Anyone experiencing distress can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au).

Federal Government delivers mental health support in Mackay-Isaac region

Residents in the Mackay-Isaac region have better access to mental health care and support thanks to the Federal Coalition Government’s strong investment in regional mental health services.
During a virtual visit this week hosted by local MP George Christensen, Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the Federal Government is providing millions of dollars in funding to boost mental health services in rural, regional and remote Queensland.
“Ensuring all Australians can access the mental health care they need is a priority for the Nationals in Government, and I know George Christensen has been a very strong advocate in expanding local support for mental health services,” Minister Gillespie said.
“Additional funding is being provided both for ongoing reform of mental health services and to address the mental health impacts of the pandemic.”
Mr Christensen said the Federal funding reflects both ongoing reform of mental health services and the extra mental health issues caused by the pandemic.
“Whatever the cause, there’s no shame in feeling stressed, anxious or depressed and it’s important to reach out and get advice and support,” Mr Christensen said.
“With strict border closures and on-and-off lockdowns, the past 18 months have been far from normal.”
The Federal Coalition is investing more than $93 million over four years to the North Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) for critical mental health and suicide prevention services.
The Federal funding committed by the PHN into local initiatives, includes:

  • More than $10 million over four years for Safe Spaces, including the new crisis space at Mackay Base Hospital. These spaces provide alternatives to emergency departments for people in mental distress
  • More than $1 million over three years to allow people in NQPHN to be referred to the Way Back Support Service in Cairns. The service provides non-clinical, follow up care and practical support to people who have had a suicidal episode
  • Almost $400,000 in 2021-22 to establish and operate a new headspace service for the Whitsunday, expected to open in December. This new headspace service is part of the Government’s $111.3 million funding commitment to establish 30 new headspace services. The new service will be a satellite from the existing headspace Mackay, which will receive more than more than $896,000 in federal funding this financial year; and
  • $8 million over two years from 2021-22 to NQPHN to continue its psychosocial support program for people with severe mental illness who are not in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Dr Gillespie said the region was continuing to benefit from important initiatives aimed at reducing mental health toll of the COVID pandemic.
“Through our investment in telehealth, 38,000 Medicare-subsidised mental health services were delivered via telehealth in the region in 2020-21, building on our $100 million Better Access Initiative delivering further mental health support,” Dr Gillespie said.

Local Ex-Serviceman Ready to Fight for Townsville

Townsville born firefighter and ex-serviceman John Ring has been endorsed by the Labor Party to contest the seat of Herbert at the next Federal election.
John spent over 14 years in the RAAF and currently works at the Townsville Airport as an aviation firefighter.
The father of three, and Ignatius Park old boy, said today he felt privileged to have the opportunity to stand for election in his hometown.
“I know there is a lot of hard work ahead and I’m fully committed to doing my very best to highlight local issues and get a better deal for our region,” Mr. Ring said.
“We’re not getting the leadership we deserve from the Morrison Government, which is all about spin.
“The Government has failed on the vaccination roll-out, failed on aged care and veterans support, and failed to deliver adequate economic support for our communities.
“Our city and our residents deserve better than an MP who has failed to deliver for our community and stood by watching more government cuts, whilst he was preoccupied with playing politics.”
“I’m a local who loves my hometown and I believe with my 15 years of experience in the RAAF I have a strong understanding of the issues faced by our broader community and our service men and women.”
Mr. Ring said the Government’s attempt to cut aviation firefighting services in Australia, had inspired him to consider running as a candidate.
“Along with many of my firefighting colleagues we fought hard to stop the government from going ahead with the cutbacks that threatened to leave airports in regional QLD without a firefighting capacity stationed at the airport.
“That was a significant moment for me, and I wanted to do something about it for regional communities.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said that “Herbert is an electorate that needs an MP willing to fight for regional Queenslanders.”
“John will be a champion for better health services for his community and a strong advocate for good local jobs in the region.”
“Under a Labor Government we’ll always make sure Townsville gets its fair share and regional Queenslanders have a voice in Government.”

Free and unlimited mental health in Medicare

The Greens have today announced that in balance of power after the next election, they will push to
tackle the growing mental health crisis in Australia by making mental healthcare free and unlimited for
everyone who needs it as part of Medicare.
The plan, which will create universal, unlimited and available mental healthcare through Medicare, will
be funded by taxing billionaires and big corporations making big profits.
Our plan will ensure everyone can access mental healthcare, when they need it, not when they can
afford it.
On current polling, a power-sharing Parliament is the most likely outcome of the coming election. The
Greens have already announced their ‘tycoon tax’ plan that will be pushed in ‘balance of power’
negotiations to help raise revenue, but the free mental health care plan is the first key expenditure
policy announced by the party.
This plan is a priority for the party and will be a central election campaign focus for the Greens,
especially amongst young people, and a key element of post-election balance of power negotiations.
Greens Health Spokesperson, Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John said:
“Mental health services in Australia are out of reach for too many people. Hundreds of thousands of
people are being left behind because they can’t get the help they need. Two of the problems people are banging up against are the cost of services, and the limit on number of appointments.
“Over half of individual psychological therapy sessions had an average gap payment of $68, whilst two thirds of psychiatrist consultations had an average gap of payment of $93 (source).
“The lockdowns and pandemic have affected everyone’s mental health. Everyone’s stressed, worried,
and anxious about the future. But the urgent need for universal mental health services, funded by big
corporations making big profits, was urgent before the pandemic.
“We can tackle this crisis. By taxing the billionaires and big corporations we can make sure everyone
can afford to access mental health services for as long as they need them.
“When everyone can access free mental health support, our whole community will benefit through an
improved quality of life, improved relationships and better performance while studying or working.”
Greens Leader Adam Bandt said:
“The next election will be closer than people think. Scott Morrison is only 828 votes away from losing
majority government and on current polling, a power-sharing Parliament is the most likely outcome.
“In balance of power, the Greens will kick the Liberals out and push the next government to make
billionaire corporations pay their fair share of tax so we can get free and unlimited mental health care
into Medicare.
“Last time The Greens were in balance of power we got free dental for kids into Medicare, and this
time we will fight to get people the mental health care they deserve. In balance of power, the Greens
will push to get dental and mental health fully into Medicare.”
How the Greens’ plan will work
Expand the Better Access Initiative to unlimited psychology or psychiatric therapy sessions
and raise their Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebates for patients with a diagnosed
mental illness. The rebates would be offered at two levels to give mental health care providers
a real avenue to providing no-gap mental health care.
Details of amendments to the Medicare rebate:

  • For psychiatric therapy sessions, rebates for MBS items 291, 296, 297, and 299 would be raised to 100 percent of the schedule fees (currently 85 percent)
  • For psychology therapy sessions there are two levels:
    • the higher level, for providers who offer no-gap services to encourage bulk billing, MBS rebates for items 80000, 80005, 80010, 80015 would be increased to match the 2021-22 rates recommended by the Australian Psychology Society.
    • the lower level, for sessions charged at more than the Australian Psychology Society recommended rates, providers would receive the current, lower, rebates.
  • Within any 12-month period, people would be eligible for unlimited sessions. They would need a referral from their General Practitioner (GP) every 10 treatment sessions under their mental health treatment plan.
  • The Parliamentary Budget Office has calculated that this plan will decrease the fiscal balance by $1.123 billion over the estimates and $4.756 over the decade.
  • The Greens ‘tycoon tax’ plan on the super-profits of big corporations and mining companies, previously launched, will raise $338b over the decade.

Porter focus now on PM, Greens renew push for ICAC

Christian Porter’s resignation from the Ministry in the face of a Greens’ no confidence motion doesn’t end the mystery donation affair, with the Greens vowing to pursue the Prime Minister over his failure to act and to renew a push in Parliament to have the Greens’ federal ICAC bill – which has already passed the Senate – brought on for debate in the House of Representatives.
“Faced with a Greens no confidence motion and widespread community condemnation, Christian Porter has started to accept the reality that Ministers can’t take cash donations and refuse to say who they’re from,” said Greens Leader Adam Bandt.
“It should have been absolutely obvious from day one that Christian Porter’s actions were wrong, yet Scott Morrison refused to sack him.
“Transparency and integrity count for nothing for Scott Morrison, and both Christian Porter and the Prime Minister are still acting as if nothing wrong happened.
“The fish rots from the head down. It is clear Scott Morrison will not enforce standards of integrity the community expects, and we need a federal ICAC to hold politicians to account.”
“We need a federal corruption watchdog now more than ever. The Greens have got a bill to establish a federal ICAC through the Senate and it’s awaiting a vote in the house. When Parliament resumes, we will renew our push to make the corruption watchdog law. After this latest in a string of scandals, it will be a brave Liberal backbencher that stands in the way of establishing a federal corruption watchdog.”

Improving diagnosis for hepatitis C patients

To help improve the treatment times of those with hepatitis C, the Morrison Government will fund a new national point-of-care testing (POCT) program that can confirm active hepatitis C infections within an hour and allow treatment to begin immediately.
The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW and the International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing at Flinders University will be provided with $6.5 million combined to establish the program.
Being able to provide the testing and treatment all in one visit is a real game-changer for people who would normally have to wait several weeks for a test result.
This technology can test for active hepatitis C infection by taking a small amount of blood from a fingertip. This blood is analysed on site, with a result ready for the patient within an hour. If the result comes back positive, treatment can begin during that same visit.
Under the program, testing will be available nationally at 65 sites with a high prevalence of hepatitis C infection, including drug treatment clinics, needle and syringe programs, and prisons.
The program will also include the development of standard operating procedures, logistics, deployment, operator training, and external quality assurance.
At the end of 2018, an estimated 129,640 people were living with chronic hepatitis C in Australia. Hepatitis C rates have been declining in Australia since the country implemented wide access to direct acting antiviral treatments.
These treatments cure the virus in 95% of people. But many people living with hepatitis C are not aware they have it, so innovative methods are necessary to increase testing.
This major investment will increase access to hepatitis C testing, treatment, and cures across the country.
Australia is committed to achieving the global goal of reducing the burden of viral hepatitis and eliminating viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030. Indeed, we could be one of the first countries in the world to reach that goal.
 

$38.5 million to support senior Australians in Dementia Action Week

A new National Centre for Monitoring Dementia is to be established to improve the care for those suffering from the condition along with $25.5 million for new research.
Marking Dementia Australia week, the Morrison Government is providing $13 million in funding to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to establish the National Centre, to routinely monitor dementia care in Australia.
This will help address critical gaps to support national dementia policy and service provision.
A further $25.5 million is also being made available under the Government’s Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care (DAAC) Mission including the release of a comprehensive roadmap and implementation plan to chart the way forward.
The Mission is funded through the Medical Research Future Fund.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said it was a significant step forward.
“The research will improve the quality of life for Australians as they age, reduce stigma associated with dementia and enable better outcomes for older people,” Minister Hunt said.
The theme for Dementia Action Week is “A little support makes a big difference.”
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said it was a relevant message for all Australians.
“Many people with dementia can continue to live well for many years – but this remains a complex and often misunderstood condition,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Those living with dementia deserve our understanding, love and support. It’s about seeing the person behind the diagnosis – an individual with a life, passions and relationships.”
The week of awareness has also been marked by the release of the Dementia in Australia 2021 Report, a benchmark study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Dementia in Australia 2021 provides comprehensive, timely and accurate data that will inform our continuing work to improve the quality of life for Australians living with dementia – particularly senior Australians.
The report confirms that dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, and the leading cause of death among Australian women.
The DAAC Mission Roadmap is a high-level strategic document that includes the aim, vision, goals and priorities for investment for the $185 million Mission.
The Implementation Plan outlines the priorities for investment, evaluation approaches and measures, supporting activities and collaborative approaches.
The Roadmap and Implementation Plan were developed by the DAAC Mission Expert Advisory Panel, led by the co-chairs, Professor Elizabeth Beattie and Professor Len Gray.
“We know that dementia is now the third leading cause of disease burden in Australia, and that as our population ages, the number of Australians with dementia is projected to more than double by 2058,” Minister Hunt said.
“Lifting the quality of dementia care is one of the key drivers of our $17.7 billion plan to reform aged care, which includes a $229.4 investment in reforms specific to improving the quality of life and care for people living with dementia.”
The Dementia in Australia 2021 report found up to 472,000 Australians are living with the condition and more than half of all people in residential aged care are also affected.
Minister Colbeck, said the report validated the prominence of dementia care in the Government’s aged care reform plan.
“Our vision for quality dementia care in aged care encompasses staff capability, regulation and appropriate design of residential facilities. Dementia research has given us guidelines on dementia friendly design, and as part of our five year plan a new accommodation framework will be implemented from 1 July 2024.”
Dementia Action Week also encourages healthcare professionals to find out how they can make their practice more dementia-friendly.
“The Government’s reform package provides a boost for training in dementia care including for more than 3,000 personal care workers to be trained as dementia leaders in their organisations and training places for an additional 1,000 GPs and GP registrars each year,” Minister Colbeck said.
He said the Dementia in Australia 2021 report also confirmed the trend of more senior Australians choosing to age in their homes, and the corresponding need to support carers.
“We know up to 337,200 Australians are providing care for a person with dementia, and that 1 in 3 of those carers feels worried or depressed due to that role,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Our aged care reform package includes additional support for dementia carers through the National Dementia Support Program, more respite care places and better dementia-specific models of respite care.
“This week is also an opportunity for people to find out some simple things they can do to support a person living with dementia, or a friend or family member who is a carer.”
Dementia Action Week runs from 20‑26 September 2021. People can find out about simple things they can do to help support those living with dementia by visiting the Dementia Action Week page on the Dementia Australia website, www.dementia.org.au

Who Corrects Corrective Services?

Staff at the Alexander Maconochie Correctional Centre have breached the Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Act, after forcibly strip searching a First Nations woman and sexual assault survivor. The woman has multiple lung and heart problems, the latter requires a pacemaker.
A review found that there was no legal basis for the ACT’s mandatory search policies.
DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe, the Greens spokesperson for Justice and First Nations said:
“This is outrageous! The Inspector of Correctional Services’ report stated that corrections staff were not required to consider human rights when conducting a forced strip search. Is this how we treat Black women?
“Our nation signed on to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) which requires a culturally safe, properly resourced, effective and independent oversight mechanism of places of detention.
“It’s critical that the Commonwealth Government shows leadership and provides the necessary resources to implement OPCAT. This is far too important to be patchy and inconsistent across state lines. We need federal leadership to ensure the dignity of everyone in this country is respected.
“First Nations people should be able to feel safe around people working for the government, instead of worrying if they’ll be another statistic in this country’s violent past. Everyone, no matter where they are, has the right to be treated fairly and free from torture.
“We’re talking about a woman who had just been denied release to go to her grandmother’s funeral and threatened to self harm. Before she could enter the Crisis Support Unit, policy required a mandatory strip search. How can they justify forcing a strip search on someone experiencing a mental health crisis?
“Up to 12 staff held her down. Footage shows the woman yelling that she couldn’t breathe, while staff said that this was ‘for her own safety.’ This is a gross miscarriage of justice. She could have died.
“This is a matter of life and death and we can’t rely on Corrective Services to correct themselves. First Nations people are dying in police custody and being traumatised by prison policies that ignore our human rights.
“The Greens are committing to keeping this Government accountable in relation to OPCAT – so that our people are culturally safe, consulted and empowered, every step of the way. Without independent monitoring of places of detention, more of our people will die in custody.”

Polling puts animal welfare on the agenda for federal election

Opinion polling of 1,052 Australians commissioned by the Greens and conducted by Lonergan Research has found Australians are overwhelmingly concerned about animal welfare and supportive of key animal welfare policies ahead of the next federal election. Crucially, strong animal welfare policies can impact voting intention.
Quick statistics:

  • 4 in 5 of respondents (80%) are concerned about animal welfare, with 42% being at least ‘very concerned’.
  • 46% of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate with strong animal welfare policies.
  • 59% of respondents support a ban on live animal export.
  • 54% of respondents support a ban on greyhound racing.
  • 55% of respondents agree that racing animals like horses and greyhounds for gambling and entertainment is cruel.
  • 68% of respondents agree we need stronger animal welfare standards for farm animals.

Key findings and background:
The nationally representative poll found that 80% of Australians are concerned about animal welfare, with 42% being ‘very concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’. 46% of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate with strong animal welfare policies.
Support for a ban on live animal export remains strong, with 59% of respondents supporting a ban, including a majority of Greens, Labor, and Liberal/National voters. In the most recent comparable survey, conducted in 2019 through ABC Vote Compass, support for a ban stood at 58%.
For the first time, national support has been tested for a ban on greyhound racing. A clear majority (54%) of Australians agree that greyhound racing should be banned, with 28% strongly agreeing and 43% more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to ban greyhound racing.
Further, a clear majority (55%) agree with the statement that “racing animals like horses and greyhounds for gambling and entertainment is cruel”, and 51% are more likely to vote for a candidate who advocates for stronger animal welfare standards for racehorses.
More than two-thirds (68%) of Australians agree we need stronger animal welfare standards for farm animals, with a majority (53%) more likely to vote for a candidate who advocates for this.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens spokesperson for Animal Welfare said:
“So many Australians are passionate about animal welfare, and want to see the government do more to improve it.
“Both Labor and the Coalition are lagging behind the majority of voters, who want to see live export banned, greyhound racing shut down, and much stronger animal welfare standards for farm animals. Instead, the major parties continue to prop up and actively support cruel industries.
“There’s this assumption that voters don’t usually consider animal welfare when they vote. Well, they do, and they want to elect candidates who care for animals and will act to protect them.
“The turbulence of the pandemic has not diminished Australians’ love for animals. In fact, it possibly has strengthened it, with so many companion animals across the country keeping people company during very difficult and lonely times.
“The time of exploiting animals for profit is coming to an end. More and more people want to see an end to animal cruelty and for animals to be treated with compassion and care.
“I’ve always known that our communities care deeply about animals. Now, we have even more evidence.”
Methodology Statement:
The research was commissioned by The Office of Senator Mehreen Faruqi (Australian Greens) and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard, and in compliance with the Australian Polling Council Quality Mark standards (www.australianpollingcouncil.com). Lonergan Research surveyed 1,052 Australians 18+ between June 25 and June 29. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and from the AEC. Our long methodology statement and questionnaire can be found at http://projects.lonergan.team/2427-2/

Wrong way, go back on nuclear subs

The Greens have slammed the Morrison Government for upping its assault on lutruwita/Tasmania’s oceans and waterways.
Greens Senator for lutruwita/Tasmania, and Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Peter Whish-Wilson said:
“Make no mistake today’s announcement is the unofficial start of Scott Morrison’s election campaign.
“This is clearly sabre-rattling, preparing Australia for a khaki election and designed to be a distraction from the fact this Government is plagued with scandal and corruption.
“Short on detail but deeply concerning in its intent; building nuclear submarines in a new alliance with the US is a major provocation that ups the ante in a regional arms race and makes all Australians less safe. This in particularly risks the health of our oceans and coastal communities.
“lutruwita/Tasmania’s oceans have been under constant attack from this Government.
“The last thing we want is dangerous nuclear reactors lurking off our coastlines.
“This is the contempt the Liberals hold for Tasmanian communities: they want to blast our oceans with seismic testing, expand oil and gas drilling in Bass Strait, pollute our waterways with fish farm expansion, and now they want to expose our oceans to floating nuclear reactors.
“The potential for accidents is significant, as has been shown recently with hundreds of safety issues reported in Scotland, and the European Union found that further research was needed on the impact of radiation on oceanic ecosystems resulting from nuclear submarines.
“A nuclear submarine accident off any coastline could spell disaster for the thousands of Tasmanians and Australians whose livelihoods depend on our fisheries and healthy oceans.
“The Greens are a party of peace and non-violence and have a long history of opposing nuclear submarines and nuclear energy projects. We simply won’t let this stand.”