- Cuts to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program in this year’s budget will contribute to the early deaths of Aboriginal smokers, a former race discrimination commissioner has warned.
- New research has revealed junior elite athletes as young as 12 are using performance-enhancing drugs.
- A nurse arrested in Victoria is accused of giving deadly shots of insulin to two elderly residents of a nursing home in Ballina, in New South Wales.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 9th July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Cuts to the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program in this year’s budget will contribute to the early deaths of Aboriginal smokers, a former race discrimination commissioner has warned.
The program’s budget is $65 million a year when fully funded, but Tom Calma said there was a decision made to cut funding by $130 million over five years – effectively more than a third of the program’s annual funding.
In the 1940s more than 70 per cent of non-Indigenous Australian men were smokers.
After decades of initiatives, from cutting tobacco advertising to introducing non-smoking areas, that number fell to just 20 per cent.
But Mr Calma said Indigenous Australia has been left behind.
“In some of our remoter communities, it’s as high as 70 per cent.”
Such high smoking rates have significant implications for the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians.
Last year, the single greatest point of agreement for all states and territories was to reduce chronic disease by reducing smoking rates, according to the Closing the Gap steering committee report.
In 2010, Mr Calma became the national coordinator of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program, with teams of six around the country running anti-smoking programs targeting Indigenous Australians.
Other services are in a similar situation around the nation, and Mr Calma said the cuts will make it difficult to reach the target of halving Indigenous smoking rates by 2018.
He said reducing information about smoking will contribute to the early deaths of Indigenous Australians.
A spokesperson for Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash said the Government is committed to addressing tobacco-related illness in Indigenous people.
The spokesperson said a review of the current program will ensure that funding is directed towards services which deliver results.
Mr Calma said it was up to the Prime Minister to say what part of the Closing the Gap campaign he was committed to.
“The Prime Minister, who also is the champion for Indigenous affairs, says that he’s fully committed to the Closing the Gap campaign,” he said.
“I think the question has got to be: what is he committed to in that program?
“Is it about healthy equality, which is what the Close the Gap campaign was all about, and I think only the Prime Minister can talk about that.”
New research has revealed junior elite athletes as young as 12 are using performance-enhancing drugs.
Researchers from the University of Canberra and Queensland’s Griffith University have spent three years interviewing junior athletes.
More than 900 athletes aged from 12 to 17, who were competing at an elite junior level, were interviewed.
Researchers found about 4 per cent of elite junior athletes are using performance or image-enhancing drugs.
Another 10 per cent believed they were competing against athletes using drugs, while a third of the young athletes had used nutritional supplements.
Researchers are concerned doping among junior athletes might have increased over the last decade.
One of the co-authors of the report, Dr Stephen Moston from the University of Canberra, has warned the practice is going unchecked due to a lack of testing.
“The reality is young athletes aren’t tested very often, and so they operate in a kind of vacuum where there is no real testing going on,” he said.
He said the research has uncovered a disturbing mindset.
A nurse arrested in Victoria is accused of giving deadly shots of insulin to two elderly residents of a nursing home in Ballina, in New South Wales.
Megan Haines, 46, was arrested at Seaspray, in eastern Victoria, on Monday and is being extradited to Sydney.
Nursing home residents Marie Darragh, 82, and Isobella Spencer, 77, were found unconscious in their beds on the day before Mother’s Day, May 10, at the St Andrews Village nursing home in Ballina and both died before the ambulance arrived.
It is alleged a third woman, aged 88, was assaulted when she found the woman trying to inject her with insulin.
Police in New South Wales plan to charge Haines with two counts of murder and one count of assault.
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