Liz Rix

Residual trauma from ‘Stolen Generation’ experiences, cultural insensitivity in parts of the healthcare system, and memories of discrimination against family members* - broadly linked as ‘institutional racism’ - continues to impact on the effectiveness of renal care for rural Aboriginal people.

This is a key finding in research for a PhD thesis undertaken by University of Sydney doctoral candidate Liz Rix who held lengthy discussions with Aboriginal renal patients in the Northern Rivers region.

Ms Rix, a non-Indigenous person, has been invited to present a paper on her research at the October conference of the American Indigenous Research Association in Pablo, Montana USA

Medicare Logo

For the first time ever, more than one million billings a day are being received by Medicare, a figure that outstrips the number of new patients over the past decade by three-to-one.

Announcing the Medicare statistics for 2014-15, Health Minister Sussan Ley said 21 million Australians accessed more than 368 million individual services on the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS).

The cost to taxpayers exceeded $20 billion, she added.

According to the Minister, about 90 per cent of the nation’s 23.95M population accessed Medicare last year, with an average number of 17 items being recorded per patient, at an average cost of $800 per person.

“Medicare claims are now an average of $350 a year higher than they were 10 years ago,” Ms Ley said.

Dr Michael Douglas

The University Centre for Rural Health is seeking input from Northern Rivers GPs on a study exploring illicit drug use and associated harms in the area covered by Northern NSW Local Health District (Tweed-Grafton).

The study’s aim is to address an identified knowledge gap about local drug use, and to establish a Rural Drug Monitoring System, according to Dr Michael Douglas, UCRH’s Director of Education.

“Currently, we know very little about the harms associated with drug use, and the implications for relevant services. We are seeking input from General Practitioners, many of whom are at the front line of the issue,” he added.

“We would be most grateful if GPs are able to support this research by engaging in an interview exploring the matter. The interview can be done face-to-face or by telephone, at a time of their convenience, and is expected to take about 30 minutes.”


On 1 September - the first day of Spring - the cost of a packet of cigarettes increased by 12.5 per cent, a move welcomed by Northern NSW Local Health District, as well as health authorities and practitioners Australia-wide.

The rise, due to a tax increase, is the third tranche of four annual tax increases on tobacco that will deliver a 60 per cent increase by 1 December 2016.

NNSW LHD Health Promotion Manager Jillian Adams said, “Although smoking levels have declined dramatically in the past 30 years there are still around 19 per cent of adults smoking in our area.

“Many of these smokers are nicotine-dependent and find it really hard to quit. To help them, NNSW LHD will now be offering free quit smoking programs in most locations.

“The quit programs are 3 or 6 weeks long and will help support smokers quit for good,” said Ms Adams.

NNSW LHD Chief Executive, Chris Crawford

The Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) Chief Executive, Chris Crawford will retire from the position at the end of this year, at the completion of his current five-year contract.

Announcing his decision today (2 Sept) Mr Crawford said he had informed the NNSW LHD Board that he would not be reapplying for the position, which would “enable the process of recruiting a new Chief Executive to commence.”

A University of NSW alumnus, Mr Crawford was awarded the Public Service Medal (PSM) in the 2014 Australia Day Honours list for outstanding public service within the public health system, particularly for the North Coast and Northern Rivers communities of NSW.