happy health

In advance of festive season we have reporting season, at least for government agencies, with two reports on health system performance being issued in late November, one by the NSW Auditor-General, the other by the Health Care Complaints Commission.

For the figure-fond the Health 2019 Audit Office report states that the budgeted expense for the 15 local health districts, one being the Northern NSW LHD, and two speciality networks, increased from $18.3 billion to $19.4 billion in 2018–19. However, “The 15 health entities recorded unfavourable variances between actual and budgeted expenses.”

The Commonwealth’s highly regarded Productivity Commission has launched a two-volume draft report on Australia’s mental health status, the prevention and early detection of mental illness, and treatment for those who have a diagnosed condition.

As might be expected the picture is anything but rosy, with the commissioners noting that, “The treatment of mental illness has been tacked on to a health system that has been largely designed around the characteristics of physical illness.”

Disturbing statistics justified their findings: in any year approximately one in five Australians experiences mental ill-health, with the cost to the economy of mental ill-health and suicide being put, conservatively, in the order of $43 to $51 billion per year.


The black fellas drink at the Crossing Inn
Where the mighty Fitzroy runs
And the river of grog fills the sad places in,
So many lost daughter and sons

If you spit, bite or humbug
Or fight with your fists
Or fall down unable to think
You'll be growled by the barmaid
Who'll say, "You're too pissed"
But she’ll still likely fix your next drink

James Fitzpatrick

Paediatrician James Fitzpatrick’s 2015 TEDx presentation outlines the terrible impact alcohol has on Aboriginal children and their parents in the remote Western Australian township of Fitzroy Crossing. He makes a powerful case for programs driven by the local Aboriginal community to address the culture of alcohol consumption within their community. 


Order of Australia recipient, Professor Elizabeth Elliott, has been a pioneer in foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in Australia. In her presentation she outlines the clinical aspects of FASD. 

The Annual General Meeting of the Northern Rivers General Practice Network (NSW) Limited ACN 062 273 036 will be held at St Vincent’s Hospital Education Centre on the 19th day of December 2019 at 6.15 pm.

It will  consider a Special Resolution to amend the NRGPN's Constitution. The aim of the Special Resolution is to widen the membership to include all medical practitioners in the region from the northern NSW border to Grafton. This will bring it in to line with the boundaries of the Northern NSW Local Health District.

Members can vote at the AGM by attending the meeting or by downloading the voting pack from the NRGPN website and nominating a proxy.

Should the resolution be passed it will become effective immediately and there will be a subsequent call for Directors from the expanded membership. It is anticipated this new meeting will be held in February / March 2020.

There will be an informal discussion of the organisation's future activities at 6.30 pm following the meeting. 

CCC forum

The first forum to discuss the effects of the Clarence Correction Centre (CCC) on the community was held on Saturday at St Matthews Anglican Church in South Grafton. Its focus was the impact of the new jail on women, and Indigenous women in particular.

Around 40 people came along. There was a broad section of the community present including Clarence Valley Councillors Debrah Novak and Greg Clancy.

The privately run CCC is being built at Lavidia, 12 km south of Grafton, and will open in July next year. Run by SERCO it will house 1400 men and 300 women, at least 100 of whom will be Aboriginal women. State Member Chris Gulaptis has described it as ‘the fourth largest town in the Clarence Valley’.

The forum was organised by local activists Colin and Joyce Clague and chaired by Associate Professor Pauline Clague from the Jumbunna Institute at UTS.