- The Victorian Government says it expects an independent monitor examining health concerns near Heathcote, in central Victoria, will ease the public’s anxiety about a local mine.
- Western Australia’s chief psychiatrist will review five suicides of serving and former ambulance paramedics and volunteers over five years to see if there is any link between the cases.
- Australia’s key health organisations say thousands of people needing vital drug and alcohol services will be turned away unless an urgent funding crisis is resolved.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 31st March 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.
The Victorian Government says it expects an independent monitor examining health concerns near Heathcote, in central Victoria, will ease the public’s anxiety about a local mine.
The Mandalay Resources’ gold and antimony mine has caused some angst for Costerfield residents, who are worried dust from the site is damaging their health.
Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said she wanted to restore transparency.
“The last few years we’ve had a build-up of distrust unfortunately between residents, the mine operator but also government departments,” she said.
“What I’m interested in and what the Andrews Labor Government is interested in is providing a break to that.”
Since concerns were raised about the mine, Mandalay Resources has put in measures to suppress dust, including moving the crusher out of the wind and watering down the site regularly.
It said it was an “environmentally responsible” company.
Western Australia’s chief psychiatrist will review five suicides of serving and former ambulance paramedics and volunteers over five years to see if there is any link between the cases.
The move comes after it was revealed a 46-year-old volunteer who worked at the Dawesville depot took his own life last week, the fourth to do so in the past 15 months.
Health Minister Kim Hames said he initiated the review after discussions with St John Ambulance boss Tony Ahern about the series of deaths.
He said at this stage it seemed there was a range of factors involved.
The union representing WA ambulance officers has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the rate of suicides in the industry.
United Voice state secretary Pat O’Donnell said a fresh look at the problem was needed.
In a statement, St John offered condolences to the volunteer’s family and reminded workers that support and counselling is available.
Mr O’Donnell said action was needed by St John and the State Government.
Dr Hames said he was not opposed to the issue being examined by a parliamentary committee but believed any such inquiry should look more broadly.
Mr O’Donnell said St John promised to do more to help staff and volunteers suffering from stress after two paramedics took their own lives during one week last November.
He said senior staff had put in place some measures to help, but an outside expert may be required.
The union is consulting with Professor Alexander McFarlane, from the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of South Australia, to advise on how to combat stress among its members.
Australia’s key health organisations say thousands of people needing vital drug and alcohol services will be turned away unless an urgent funding crisis is resolved.
The Federal Government has slashed almost $200 million from health flexible funds over the next three years, with the cuts to take effect from the end of June.
Public Health Association of Australia spokesman Michael Moore said the organisations affected provide essential services in rural, regional and remote Australia.
He said the organisations worked to close the gap in health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, manage vital responses to communicable diseases, and deliver substance-use treatment services around the country.
A coalition of 11 peak health organisations is calling on the Federal Government to reverse its planned cuts.
“Obviously it’s of great concern to all the services and organisations potentially affected,” he said.
“To cut the best part of $200 million from frontline services in drug and alcohol, frontline services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and frontline services in rural and remote health is inexcusable.”
Alcohol and Other Drugs Council spokeswoman Rebecca MacBean said alcohol and drug rehabilitation services would be severely impacted by any funding cuts.
It comes at a time when drugs such as methamphetamine or ice are creating serious social problems across Australia, particularly for rural and regional Australia.
She said the foreshadowed cuts would significantly reduce the capacity of non-government organisations and peak bodies to deliver services across the country.
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