The NSW North Coast continues to buck the national trend for an increasing uptake of early childhood vaccination, with the proportion of our fully immunised five-year-olds (90.3 per cent) being the lowest in Australia. The Gold Coast fared only one per cent better.

Postcodes show an even grimmer picture, with Byron Shire’s rate of fully immunised five-year-olds, 73.2 per cent, being the lowest rural-regional figure in Australia.

The latest statistics in the Australia Institute for Health and Welfare report Healthy Communities: Immunisation rates for children in 2015-16  show that a total of 1867 children between the ages of one and five years living within the boundary of the North Coast Primary Health Network (Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie) remain unimmunised.  Image:

Federal MP for Page Kevin Hogan, North Coast Primary Health Network CEO Dr Vahid Saberi, Dr Andrew Binns and Rekindling the Spirit CEO Greg Telford.

In a major boost for Aboriginal health and wellbeing in the Lismore area, a partnership has been formed between Rekindling the Spirit, which provides counselling and other support services, and Jullums Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS).

Jullums, previously managed by the federally-funded North Coast Primary Health Network, will become part of a broader, community-controlled health service. Both bodies will retain their current names and staff.

In one of the moving speeches that marked the celebratory event today (5 June 2017), Rekindling’s CEO Greg Telford said that life experiences and speaking with the Elders every day in his prayers had convinced him that if you “do the right thing, the right things happen.”

Maclean District Hospital’s new Rehabilitation Unit was officially opened on 2 June 2017 by the Federal MP for Page Kevin Hogan.

The Unit has 10-new purpose-built beds and will provide coordinated care from a multidisciplinary team that includes medical, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and social work.

“Previously, the nearest rehabilitation facilities were located in Coffs Harbour and Ballina, so this is a fantastic investment in the health of our growing population in the Clarence community,” Mr Hogan said.

“Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends,
Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
One man likes to push a plough,
The other likes to chase a cow,
But that's no reason why they cain't be friends.”

Rogers and Hammerstein, Oklahoma (2009 London Cast)

Wikipedia states that “friendship has elements of affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding, compassion and trust. There is also the ability to express oneself and one’s feelings without fear of judgement from the friend. As a result friends tend to share common backgrounds, occupations and interests.”

Medicine is a stressful occupation. The suicide risk amongst doctors is higher than the general population, particularly for female doctors, and has been the subject of recent reports In the newspapers and on radio. The pressures on young doctors can be overwhelming at times, resulting in these tragic events.

Map Northern Rivers

A detailed study of the availability of GP care in northern NSW* has found that while the area has high rates of chronic illness and an ageing population, there is limited access to an affordable, same-day GP appointment.

The study found that less than half of potential new patients would be able to see a doctor on the same day if they rang the practice that morning. There would be even less chance if their requirement was to access a female GP, according to the study ‘Actual availability of appointments at general practices in regional New South Wales, Australia’, published in the latest issue of the journal Australian Family Physician.

Improving the availability of primary healthcare services would benefit both patients and the public health budget by reducing the “non-urgent use of emergency department services”.

Working from a list provided by the North Coast Primary Health Network the researchers engaged a professional interviewer to contact all 184 medical practices in 12 local government areas ranging from Tweed Heads to Coffs Harbour, including inland locations such as Kyogle, Tenterfield and Bellingen.