27 May 2024

Victim-survivors shared stories of their recovery journeys and what gives them hope, at this month’s official launch of the Supporting Recovery from Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Program at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Liverpool.

Delivered by CatholicCare Sydney and Anglicare Sydney, the Supporting Recovery program addresses the critical need for comprehensive support services for victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence (FDSV) in our region.

The Department of Health and Aged Care has funded South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) and five other PHNs, to deliver the $67 million Supporting Recovery pilot program.

The program aims to address the current FDSV mental health recovery service gaps by offering long-term recovery support which complements existing short-term and crisis support programs.

SWSPHN Amy Price speaking at the Supporting Recovery launch
SWSPHN Director of Planning and Performance, Amy Prince speaking at the Supporting Recovery launch.

SWSPHN Director of Planning and Performance, Amy Prince, spoke during the event about the urgency and importance of the program for our region.

“In South Western Sydney last year, unfortunately, there were around 5,200 domestic violence-related assault offences. The areas of Campbelltown, Liverpool and Fairfield have the highest representation, but we know many more cases go unreported,” she said.

“Last year, SWSPHN had the opportunity to apply for grant funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care to deliver the Supporting Recovery program. We were one of just six PHNs selected, and we are so grateful to be able to bring this service into South Western Sydney, as we know it’s very much needed here.

“I’m really proud to be part of an organisation that’s been able to fund this service, and I really look forward to seeing the program achieve positive outcomes for victim-survivors in our region.”.

The Supporting Recovery program is designed to provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for victim-survivors of FDSV.

Panel at the Supporting Recovery launch
Panel discussion at the Supporting Recovery launch

One of the panellists emphasised the significant positive impact of programs like the Supporting Recovery program.

“I’m living in recovery from complex PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from generational trauma, so I believe passionately that domestic violence services like this one are vital for the safety and healing of those of us trying to live and heal from domestic and sexual violence,” the panellist told the crowd.

“I have hope because I get to talk to people about these things. When I was growing up, we didn’t have the words for it.”

Attendees also heard from a First Nations person and survivor advocate about providing cultural safety and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander FDSV victim-survivors.

“You need to remember it takes a lot for Aboriginal people to be able to trust other services and people because of their past history. It’s about active listening, so use your approach as a yarning rather than talking across or to someone,” the crowd was told.

“It’s about having that understanding about us, making us feel safe so we can open up to you because we will very rarely ask for help from anyone unless it’s really necessary.”

 
Werriwa MP Anne Stanley at the Supporting Recovery launch
Werriwa MP Anne Stanley at the Supporting Recovery launch

Werriwa MP Anne Stanley was also in attendance at the launch event on behalf of Emma McBride, the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

“This pilot comes at a time when family and domestic violence is reaching a boiling point in our society, and it’s about time it has come to the national spotlight,” she said.

Find out more about the program

 

If you are currently experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence and need crisis support, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 000.

 

09 May 2024

The South West Sydney Expert Menopause Panel will host this month’s MenoECHO on Monday, 27 May at 6pm.

The free online event is aimed primarily at GPs, endocrinologists, gynaecologists, nurses and allied health professionals.

The program offers online sessions on the fourth Monday of every other month.

Sessions feature expert-led presentations on menopause, followed by discussions on case studies. They will cover topics with increasing complexity and shaped by feedback from attendees.

Organisers soon hope to have CPD accreditation from RACGP and ACRRM.

Download the flyer

Find out more

07 May 2024

Village Connect is a unique child and family hub designed by Karitane in partnership with Sonder and Uniting to support parents living in South Western Sydney who are pregnant and/or have a child.

The hub brings together child and family health services, key workers and a wide range of resources to ensure parents get the help they need, when they need it.

It aims to improve the confidence and skills of parents in connecting with and raising their child through a range of support services including playgroups, parenting workshops and care navigation services.

Nurses, wellbeing experts, and psychologists also offer parents access to 24/7 confidential medical, safety and mental healthcare support via the Sonder app

Village Connect also offers multilingual support, including:

  • In-app chat: more than 240 languages
  • Phone or video: more than 300 languages via translation service
  • Full App translations: available in Mandarin, Bengali, Cantonese and Thai

Find out more about Village Connect
30 April 2024

Your patients can now access a new program which supports people who have experienced family, domestic or sexual violence to connect with services to assist with their long-term recovery.

Anglicare Sydney and CatholicCare Sydney began service delivery of the key mental health component of the SWSPHN-funded Supporting Recovery from Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Program in April.

The program officially launched at the Casula Powerhouse in Liverpool on 1 May.

Services are initially being delivered from hubs based in the Campbelltown, Liverpool and Fairfield communities due to higher rates of family, domestic and sexual violence in those local government areas (LGAs).

However, services may be expanded across Bankstown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly LGAs based on need and demand. 

The Supporting Recovery program includes access to:

  • a Local Care Team to help clients coordinate and manage their recovery journey, including connecting clients with a range of other services such as legal, financial and housing supports
  • trained psychologists, social workers and counsellors who specialise in providing trauma-informed and client-centred mental healthcare
  • holistic, culturally appropriate mental health services which are available at no cost for a period up to two years

Your patients do not need a doctor’s referral. They can access the service by calling 1300 316 554 or going online and completing a self-referral.

Find out more
02 April 2024

Your patients who have experienced family, domestic or sexual violence can now seek help from a new SWSPHN-funded program which aims to provide victim-survivors with access to services to support their long-term recovery.

Anglicare Sydney and CatholicCare Sydney are delivering the Supporting Recovery from Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Program in South Western Sydney.

The program aims to fill a gap in access to longer term mental health recovery services for victim survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence, and to work alongside existing services already in place providing short-term and crisis support.

Services are initially being delivered from hubs based in the Campbelltown, Liverpool and Fairfield communities due to higher rates of family, domestic and sexual violence in those local government areas (LGAs).

However, services may be expanded across Bankstown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly LGAs based on need and demand. 

The Supporting Recovery program includes access to:

  • a Local Care Team to help clients coordinate and manage their recovery journey, including connecting clients with a range of other services such as legal, financial and housing supports
  • trained psychologists, social workers and counsellors who specialise in providing trauma-informed and client-centred mental healthcare
  • holistic, culturally appropriate mental health services which are available at no cost for a period up to two years

Patients do not need a GP referral. They can access the service by calling 1300 316 554 or completing a self-referral online.

More information about the service can be found by:

07 March 2024

International Women’s Day (IWD) is held each year on 8 March to:
• celebrate women’s achievements
• raise awareness about discrimination
• take action to drive gender parity

This year’s theme is #InspireInclusion.

When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment.

The aim of the IWD 2024 #InspireInclusion campaign is to collectively forge a more inclusive world for women.

We can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion.

SWSPHN staff celebrate International Women's Day

SWSPHN staff celebrate International Women’s Day

 

To mark International Women’s Day we’ve asked SWSPHN’s Executive Team and other staff answer: Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

Here’s what they said:

Alyssa Horgan, Integration and Priority Populations Coordinator
To me International Women’s Day is an important opportunity for women to band together and to recognise our collective strengths. It is an important reminder for us to reflect on how far women’s rights have come, and to refocus on the work that is still to be done. It provides a platform for us to shine a light on the issues that are important to women, and to bring issues such as the gender pay gap into the forefront of the public sphere.

Ben Neville, Integration and Priority Populations Manager
In my career, I have worked in services providing domestic violence counselling for victims and run programs for perpetrators. I have seen firsthand the impacts the continued gender imbalance causes and how it maintains a culture where male privilege and machoism is expected. To me International Women’s Day helps to keep in our collective conscience that despite the platitudes, women are still not considered, paid or treated as equals.

Pritika Desai, Mental Health and AOD Team Lead
International Women’s Day is important to me because it recognises the challenges women (including non-binary identifying people) face for equity and equality throughout their lives, but also celebrates every woman and non-binary person who works hard to break through stereotypes and barriers, paving the way for those that follow. To me, that is every one of us however little or big our contribution, it all matters.

Keith McDonald, Chief Executive Officer
Frankly, without women it’s all over… it’s a day to acknowledge that every day since civilised cultures have existed, each of us has relied on the feminine life force to sustain us. Strength through an intricate weave of passion, resilience, insight, care and nurturing – all too often this is taken for granted. Viva le donne!”

05 March 2024

Healthcare providers are being called on to stay up-to-date on infectious syphilis, amid a significant rise in syphilis diagnoses in Australia.

In the past decade, rates of syphilis diagnoses in Australia have tripled, according to a recent report by the Kirby Institute.

The rate of syphilis has increased six-fold among women, while congenital syphilis cases rose 68 per cent.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said we’re seeing the re-emergence of congenital syphilis, when the infection is transmitted during pregnancy.

“This can have devastating health consequences for newborn babies, including death,” he said.

“Congenital syphilis is also entirely preventable. We must ensure everyone is tested for syphilis during pregnancy. All pregnant people should be tested at least once, and in many cases more.”

Read more

Healthcare providers are urged to:

08 December 2023

Ho ho ho.

December has darted by and you’re already staring down the Christmas Day barrel. Time to get out the checklist and make sure you’ve got all bases covered.

  • Tree and decorations up✅ and up to scratch ✅
  • Gifts for everyone ✅ Wrapped✅ Labelled✅ Under the tree✅
  • Fridge stocked ✅ Alcohol✅
  • Ready for the big day ✅

But slow down.

While preparations for Christmas Day are in hand, there’s a lot of other considerations – focusing on safety and wellbeing – which need some thought and planning as well.

The festive and holiday season are about winding down, celebrations, get-togethers and parties, family and friends, getting away, day trips … and generally eating and drinking too much.

Some of those activities, done on the spur and in the spirit of the moment or without thinking or planning, can present unnecessary risks.

There’s also the natural elements to take into consideration – sun, heat and dry storms can combine lethally to produce bushfires.

At the same time, businesses take the opportunity for a breather – so availability and access to goods and services are limited. 

Here’s some examples of the festive season gone wrong!

  • Celebrating outdoors in the heat of the day. Sun and alcohol don’t mix. Think heatstroke or sunburn. And the chemist or your GP are closed.
  • Heading away for a few days, and you’ve posted your excitement on social media. You’ve also forgotten to get your mail held at the post office. Your friends are happy for you – and so are potential thieves.
  • You’ve gone hard on your Christmas lights display this year. But you’ve used double adaptors and plugged too many lights into one power socket. There’s a meltdown. And a fire.
  • The weather is enticing, and you’ve launched the boat for a few hours in the bay. Alcohol and jovial spirits are a recipe for disaster.

Beyond the Christmas tree and tinsel, some risk assessment and planning should be part of your overall festive preparations.

These will guarantee a safer and happier holiday season all round.

Medication mastermind

According to Healthdirect Australia, more than one in five Australians forget to pack their medication when going on holiday.

Do you have enough prescriptions and medications to get you through the public holidays? If you’re going away, do you have an up-to-date list of your medications?

Visit your GP and pharmacy before the Christmas shutdown and plan ahead.

Theft and security suggestions

Annual crime statistics show an increase in burglaries in the lead-up to Christmas, with a spike in January.

Insurance claims for household theft also skyrocket during the same period.

Common claims over the festive season include jewellery, electrical equipment, computers and accessories, bikes, and tools.

There’s a few simple and commonsense safeguards you can take to protect your home and property.

If you’re home over Christmas:

  • Don’t put Christmas trees and presents near windows with a street view as this can encourage opportunistic thieves.
  • If you are expecting parcel deliveries and no one is home, redirect the parcel to the PO or get a PO locker.
  • Lock toys and tools away each night.
  • Front and back doors are the first line of defence against potential thieves. Invest in the best quality door locks, screens and maybe even a security system.

If you’re going away:

  • Don’t post your holiday plans on social media.
  • Ensure the house is securely locked, including windows usually left open.
  • Smart plugs can be set on timers or controlled automatically, and some systems even have a built-in mode which will randomly turn lights or a radio/television on or off during evening or morning hours.
  • Redirect your mail or have it collected by a friend. Ask the friend to regularly clear brochures and advertising material from the letterbox.
  • Tell neighbours or friends, who can check on the house, you are away and who will be at the house legitimately, such as pet minders, family or the mowing man.
  • Secure your garage or, if unable, move items such as bikes inside the house.
  • Do not leave cash in the house and make sure jewellery is locked away in a safe place.
  • Mow the lawn, tidy the yard and stop all deliveries.
  • If you have a landline, turn off the answering machine and turn the phone volume down.

NSW Police recommend some simple ongoing measures to protect your property and give you peace of mind all year through.

Christmas commonsense

Everyone wants their Christmas decorations to look the best and reflect the festive mood.

There’s the twinkling lights display outside, more lights on the tree and perhaps some animated electric displays indoors.

You also might have some Christmas candles to set the atmosphere.

Remember, there are some important do’s and don’ts:

  • Check all smoke detectors in your house in the lead-up to Christmas.
  • Safely maintain your indoor and outdoor electrical decorations. Check them for frayed or bent cords and blown or flickering globes. Keep a record of when you bought the items and replace them as they age.
  • Don’t overload circuits, extension cords, or electrical sockets. Spread decorations across multiple circuits to prevent a meltdown.
  • Consider where to place your Christmas tree. If it’s a real tree, it will dry out and could become a fire hazard.
  • Never leave candles unattended or near flammable objects such as curtains.
  • Turn off lights and other electronics before going to bed.

Kitchen craziness

Festive and holiday season celebrations often start in the kitchen and adjourn to the dining room table. Family and friendship bonds are cemented by good food and accompanied by a glass of wine or beer.

But the fun and laughter can take the focus away from kitchen and cooking safety. A Christmas safety article reports on Christmas Day one in 10 people experience cooking burns and blisters with hot liquids, and one in five people tend to get serious cuts while cutting the meat and vegetables. 

There are a few reminders to take the crazy out of the kitchen on Christmas Day:

  • Limit the number of people in the kitchen – keep children and pets out – and especially around the hotplate, oven and food.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  • If you are frying, grilling or boiling food, don’t leave pans and pots unattended. If you’re simmering, baking or roasting food, check regularly.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep flammable items, such as pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, food packaging and towels, away from your stove, oven or any other kitchen appliance that generates heat.
  • Use different chopping boards for raw meat, fruit and vegetables.

There’s also some important steps to follow for food preparation and cooking, serving and storage – to ensure you and your family and friends stay safe.

  • Always cook poultry, minced meat and sausages all the way through until the juices run clear and there is no pink.
  • Whole pieces of red meat can be cooked to taste, and if it is properly heated and well browned on the outside to kill bacteria it can be rare inside.
  • Food should not be kept at between 5°C and 60°C — the ‘temperature danger zone’ — for more than two hours. If perishable food has been in the temperature danger zone for two to four hours, you should use it immediately. If perishable food has been in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours, toss it in the bin.
  • Keep food steaming hot until you serve it.
  • Cool leftovers quickly. This prevents bacteria which have survived the cooking process from multiplying while your hot food cools down. The best way to do this is to cover any leftovers and put them in the fridge or freezer. Leftovers can generally be kept for two to four days in the fridge.
  • If you’re sending guests home with leftovers, give them ice packs or blocks from the freezer to keep their food chilled on the way home.
  • When you reheat leftover foods, make sure all parts are steaming hot, enough to kill off any bacteria. Reheat food rapidly to at least 70ºC.

Drink smart, not hard

We’ve all done it! It’s easy to get carried away with friends, parties and festivities, the moment … and the drinks just keep flowing. We can be regretful the next day, but in the meantime some damage may have been done. Relationships. Poor decisions. Accidents.

Think first, before you’re not in a position to make a good decision:

  • If you’re out and about and drinking, always have a plan on how you’re getting home. Never drive. Consider public transport options.
  • If you’re in a group, always look out for one another.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Don’t combine alcohol with too much sun. Alcohol will dehydrate you quicker.
  • If you’re had some drinks, avoid activities that put you in the driver’s seat like driving, bike riding, skating, boating or surfing.
  • Step away from lively differences of opinion that may develop into arguments. Agree to disagree.
  • If you do find yourself in a triggering situation, call it a night.
  • If you’re the host of a get-together, ensure there’s plenty of snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Make games and activities available that offer a break from drinking.

Sun smart

The festive season coincides with summer holidays and, of course, that’s the peak heat point of the year.

Extreme heat events in Australia claim more deaths than all other natural hazard events combined. Those at greater risk include older people, people with existing medical conditions, babies and young children, outdoor workers, socially isolated people, people who are homeless and pregnant women.

Visit NSW Health for some beat the heat advice and recommendations. Healthdirect also has some great information and suggestions to stay cool and avoid hot weather risks.

Cancer Council NSW still promotes its slip, slop and slap campaign, though in later years it has added another two pieces of sound advice: seek shade and slide on the sunglasses.

DIY dangers

Holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some DIY projects and house maintenance. Think ladders, electrical equipment or chemicals.

A few simple measures can mean the difference between getting the job done safely and a trip to emergency:

  • Safety gear: Wear the right clothing for the job such as long sleeves and pants, enclosed shoes, protective glasses, earmuffs or plugs; breathing protection, gloves, disposable overalls, cut-resistant clothing and kneepads.
  • Hidden dangers: Be aware of the age of your property and be on the alert for lead-based paints and asbestos-based products.
  • Tools: Use the right tool for the job and make sure it’s in good working order. Always let someone know what you are doing so they can be aware of risks and hazards and find you if needed. It’s good practice to have someone working with you when using ladders, even at low heights.
  • Tradesman: Don’t attempt jobs that require a licensed tradesman such as electrician or plumber. It’s illegal to do them yourself.
  • Assess the job: Don’t do a DIY job beyond your capabilities and tool kit. Safety, structural integrity and longevity are paramount, especially for future homeowners.

Bushfire threat

Most of us remember the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires which roared into life across Australia, caused by dry conditions, a lack of soil moisture and, finally, extreme temperatures. They peaked in December 2019 and were only extinguished completely in May 2020, after ravaging 24.3 million hectares, destroying 3,000 buildings (including 2,782 homes), and claiming 34 lives.

  • The NSW Government has guidelines on how to prepare a bushfire survival plan.
  • The NSW RFS has an online assessment tool designed to help you make an informed decision when making your bush fire survival plan, such as whether you will leave early, or stay with your property and defend it.
  • While no one wants any type of emergency over Christmas, it’s always wise to be prepared in a practical sense. An emergency preparedness kit should be stocked and stored in an accessible spot. It should include food, water, medications, phone numbers, first aid kit, torch with extra batteries, and blankets.

Take the stress out of Christmas

The Christmas and holiday season are a conundrum. On one hand, they’re about family, friends, and celebrations. That can bring lots of fun and laughter, though it can be a cause of stress in itself.

But it’s also the loneliest time of the year for some. Lifeline reports calls and texts peak up to 6 per cent above average in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and on the day immediately after the New Year’s Day public holiday.

Healthdirect offers a practical eight ways to stress-proof your festive season. Healthdirect also offers 24-hour health advice on 1800 022 222.

If you need and want to talk to someone, there’s always a caring and friendly person at Lifeline 11 13 14, while the Mental Health Line can offer support on 1800 011 511.

30 November 2023

Bankstown Diabetes Centre will run an eight-week group for women under 40 who have struggled with weight, from 16 February next year.

The Metabolic Transformation Through Action (META) Group is for women who may have a history of yoyo dieting, and may have conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), insulin resistance or an endocrine disorder.

The group aims to provide the skills for sustainable lifestyle change.

It will be run by a clinical psychologist and dietitian with expertise in metabolic health.

Participants will benefit from interacting with peers with similar experiences.

Find out more:

META Group referral form

Brochure for healthcare providers

Brochure for patients

 

27 November 2023

NSW Health has introduced a second universal antenatal syphilis screen at 26 to 28 weeks gestation and additional screening for women at high-risk of syphilis in pregnancy.

This is in response to concerning increases in maternal and congenital syphilis diagnosed in NSW. 

Syphilis in pregnancy is associated with preterm birth, low birth weight, congenital anomalies, fetal loss or stillbirth, and neonatal death.

Congenital syphilis is a preventable disease.

Additionally, GPs who engage with pregnant women are encouraged to screen opportunistically regardless of gestation where a pregnant woman has had limited or no antenatal care.  

You can find advice and referral information at NSW Sexual Health Clinics and the NSW Sexual Health Infolink.

NSW Sexual Health Infolink is available during business hours on 1800 451 624.

GPs will be offered active assistance with case management from their local sexual health clinic after the notification is referred to them in specific cases. 
 
An online training has been developed NSW Introduction to Syphilis for Midwives and Clinicians Providing Antenatal Care to assist GPs identify priority populations for antenatal syphilis testing, learn about syphilis care and management including more complex clinical scenarios, and contact tracing after a syphilis diagnosis. 

More information can be found via the policy directive Syphilis in Pregnancy and Newborns.

The policy directive establishes the minimum requirements for NSW Health services and outlines the roles and responsibilities of clinicians and NSW Health staff when screening and managing syphilis in pregnancy and managing neonates at risk of congenital syphilis.