A partnership between Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) Health Promotion Unit and the Northern Rivers General Practice Network has led to local health promotion programs being promoted directly to general practice patients as they wait for their appointments.

“We deliver a range of free, high quality and evidence-based health promotion programs across Northern NSW for quitting smoking, healthy eating and physical activity, reducing risky drinking and preventing falls”, said Gavin Dart, Acting Health Promotion Manager.

“Working in a more collective and coordinated way with general practice is a priority for us because they have established trust and rapport, and see the people that could benefit most from our programs regularly”.

Lifestyle behaviours and distance from a metropolis are the major factors contributing to regional Australians contracting cancer at higher rates than city dwellers, and being more likely to die within five years of diagnosis.

These are key findings in the Garvan Research Foundation’s new rural health report ‘A Rural Perspective: Cancer and Medical Research’

While remote and very remote dwellers were found to have the worst cancer survival rates, the nation’s cancer ‘hot spots’ are the inner regional areas - including the NSW North Coast.

These have the highest incidence rate in six of the selected cancers: prostate, breast, colorectal, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney cancer.

Craig Knox and Dr Julia Lisle

Northern NSW Local Health District has introduced a new Osteoporosis Re-fracture Prevention Service to the Richmond Health Service centred at Lismore Base Hospital, alongside similar programs in Tweed and Grafton.

The program has employed Craig Knox as The Fracture Liaison Co-ordinator to identify people aged over 50 following a minimal trauma fracture (MTF) or fragility fracture, and then along with Dr Julia Lisle (Staff Specialist Geriatrician) investigate and initiate treatment and management of their Bone Health.

Professor Ross Bailie, the newly-appointed Director of the University Centre for Rural Health, North Coast.

The Lismore-headquartered University Centre for Rural Health (UCRH) has chosen  a former GP to lead the 85-strong regional institution that coordinates clinical placements for medical, nursing and allied health students and undertakes extensive research on rural health issues of local and national importance.

The new Director of UCRH is Professor Ross Bailie who practiced as a GP in South Africa, where he graduated in medicine and surgery in 1983, and in New Zealand. Prof Bailie is an experienced public health doctor and researcher who for almost two decades worked with the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin and Brisbane.

He has extensive knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues, and leads the NHMRC-funded Centre for Research Excellence in Integrated Quality Improvement in Indigenous primary health care.  

Dr Sally Gibson (left) and Dr Carmen Jarrett from the NSW Health Ministry’s Youth Health & Wellbeing Team.

After a plea not to be distracted by the view over Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach, 41 young people from the Northern Rivers convened in late September to share their opinions about local health care with representatives of the NSW Health Ministry.

Participants were asked not to pull punches when discussing five key topics - Health and Health Issues, Access to Services, Service Providers, Diversity and Youth Participation and Health Promotion and Online Services/Resources.