As part of a $5.7 million Federal government package to address drug and alcohol misuse in the Northern Rivers, the residential facility the Buttery near Bangalow is being funded to provide a new service aimed at helping methamphetamine (‘ice’) users to address their dependency on the damaging drug.

To be known as Dayhab the free program will deliver community-based services between Lismore, Byron Bay and Tweed Heads.

Save the Date to Vaccinate website

Both the Federal and NSW governments are launching campaigns to improve immunisation rates, with the Northern Rivers being a key priority area.

Canberra will spend $5.5M on a national awareness campaign aimed at convincing reluctant parents to vaccinate their children. Health Minister Greg Hunt said areas with low vaccination rates will be “specifically targeted”.

The national childhood immunisation rate stands at 93 per cent, but the coverage is much lower in a range of Northern Rivers postcodes, notably around the Byron Shire hinterland.

This has prompted NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to launch a million dollar campaign to boost rates across the state, particularly targeting parents in northern NSW who he said are “failing to safeguard their children by vaccinating”.

The 2017 Save the Date to Vaccinate campaign started on 24 April as part of World Immunisation Week.

“Northern NSW and in particular the north coast have the lowest vaccination rates in Australia,” Minister Hazzard said.

Page MP Kevin Hogan with Uncle Harry Walker Mundine at the official opening of the Djanangmum Health Clinic in Casino.

The future primary health care needs of the Richmond Valley’s Indigenous community will be well served by the new Djanangmum Health Clinic, a federally-funded facility that was officially opened today.

Doing the honours was the Federal MP for Page, Kevin Hogan who said the $4.7 million clinic replaces the previous facility that was in rented premises and did not meet the needs of health workers or the community.

Djanangmum Health Clinic is operated by the Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation. It will provide primary health care services, preventative health programs, dietician/nutritionist services, child and adult dental services, mental health case management, alcohol and other drug counselling and sexual health programs.

Mr Hogan added, “This clinic will help improve the health and life expectancy, as well as early childhood health and development, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community.”

Mission Australia 2016 Youth Survey download

Mental health issues are now one of the three leading subjects of concern for Australian teenagers, according to Mission Australia’s 15th annual youth survey, released this week.

Concerns about mental health, registered by 20.6% of the 21,846 respondents to the online survey joined the other main issues of concern, alcohol and drugs (28.7%), and discrimination and equity (27%).

“Physical and mental health are critical to the wellbeing of young people, their ability to pursue future ambitions and to successfully navigate their transition into adulthood,” the report on the 2016 survey noted.

“It is important that young people have access to age-appropriate physical and mental health services and that they have the opportunity to participate in health-promoting activities such as sports.”

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said, “It concerns me that mental health continues to grow as an issue of concern for Australia. There are some wonderful youth mental health programs and a range of support services.

Physiotherapist and researcher Jennie Hewitt with Feros Care Wommin Bay residents (l-r) Cleo Bell, Julie Knox and Bren Catchpole, and USyd physiotherapy students Dom Dagher and Chelsea Clark.

A PhD research study being undertaken by physiotherapist Jennie Hewitt is showing that tailored exercise programs can deliver significant benefits for elderly residents in aged care facilities.

The study, the first of its kind ever conducted in Australia or internationally for residents of aged care, has shown improvements of up to 50 per cent in mobility and falls-reduction in participants doing a program focusing on resistance and balance exercises.

A total of 221 people aged 70 to 101 years (mean age: 86) have been involved so far. The results are immensely encouraging, according to Ms Hewitt, who is the Positive Living Coordinator for Feros Care in the Northern Rivers.