Media Releases

23

Jun

2022

North Coast residents urged to stay protected this winter

Healthy North Coast is reminding communities across our region to stay on top of their COVID vaccinations, as well as booking in for a free flu shot this month. Conveniently, the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines can be given at the same time if you are due for both.

 

Flu cases rising

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive, Julie Sturgess, said the latest health data indicates influenza activity in the community is increasing rapidly, due to an early start to the winter influenza season.

‘Due to COVID-19 restrictions and reduced travel, there was very little influenza getting around in the community last year and also a decrease in influenza vaccine coverage,’ Ms Sturgess said.

‘Now that international and state borders are open again, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in influenza cases.

‘As at 11 June 2022, there were 1,558 notifications of influenza cases across the North Coast this year, with 76% of these notifications reported within the last 4 weeks, so we’re definitely seeing case numbers climb as winter sets in.

‘We are urging North Coast residents to take advantage of free flu shots offered by the NSW Government up to 30 June and to book a vaccination appointment with their GP or local pharmacy as soon as possible.’

The influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over and can be given with other vaccines, including COVID-19.

 

COVID still a risk to community

Ms Sturgess said the North Coast has an outstanding COVID vaccination rate, but it’s important to continue to strengthen protection given COVID variants are still circulating.

‘I urge parents to not let their and their children’s vaccination dates slip,’ she said. ‘Whether it’s a second dose for younger children or a booster for teens aged 12-15 who may be more vulnerable to COVID than others, please take the time to book an appointment so we can maintain a high level of protection across the region.’

As at 20 June 2022, 65% of eligible North Coast residents aged 15+ have had their booster shot, behind the NSW average of 68%.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and available at a range of locations including local GPs, pharmacies or respiratory clinics.

You can book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment by texting ‘Hey EVA’ (Easy Vaccination Access) to 0481 611 382 or visit the online COVID-19 vaccination clinic finder to book an appointment.

‘Ideally, we would like everyone to book their COVID-booster and flu shot for the same time to maximise community protection,’ Ms Sturgess said.

 

COVID-19 vaccination

  • As at 9 June 2022, ATAGI recommends that a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine may be given to adolescents aged 12 to 15 who completed their primary course 3 or more months ago and they:
    •  are severely immunocompromised
    •  have a disability with significant or complex needs
    •  have complex and/or multiple health conditions .
  • Children aged 5 to 11 and other adolescents aged 12-15 are not yet recommended to get a COVID-19 booster.
  • Some people who are at a higher risk of severe disease and complications from COVID-19 are recommended to have a second booster dose, which can be given 4 months after their first booster dose. This includes people aged over 65, residents of aged care or disability facilities, people with severe immunocompromise, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 and over, people aged 16-64 with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness, and people with disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities that increase the risk of poor outcome from COVID-19.

 

Influenza immunisation

NSW Government announced free flu shots for everyone aged 6 months and older from 1 June 2022 to 30 June 2022.

Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible all year for free annual flu vaccination under the National Immunisation Program. This includes:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age
  • children from six months to under five years of age
  • people with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease)
  • pregnant women
  • people aged 65 and over.

 

Minimise your risk of catching COVID-19 or the flu 

Take simple precautions to minimise the risk of catching COVID-19 or the flu and passing it on:

  • stay at home if you are sick and avoid close contact with other people to protect yourself and the community from COVID-19 and the flu
  • wear a mask in indoor spaces if you are unable to physically distance.
  • sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands.
  • wash your hands thoroughly and often.

 

25

May

2022

Community Wellbeing and Resilience Flood Recovery Grants: Grant writing assistance available

Community organisations can now apply for funding through the three-year, $5 million Community Wellbeing and Resilience Flood Recovery Grants program, as well as assistance to help with their grant application.

Grants will be awarded to non-government providers helping the community from the ground up, by providing community-based trauma and healing programs that support local recovery and build community resilience.

Funded by the NSW Government as part of the Northern NSW flood recovery package, the grants will be delivered by Healthy North Coast to help communities recover from flood impacts and strengthen their capacity to meet future challenges.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer, Julie Sturgess, said Healthy North Coast is seeking innovative proposals that get people connecting, communicating, learning and supporting each other – activities that tap into the region’s social support networks.

‘We know many people are focussing on the basics right now, but we also need to rebuild community connections that are so vital for a positive outlook when times are tough. This is about supporting hearts and minds to get the North Coast back on its feet,’ Ms Sturgess said.

To support participation, Healthy North Coast has partnered with Successful Grants to offer local community organisations up to 2 hours of free professional assistance with the application process.

This assistance includes concept scoping, application review and feedback.

‘We welcome our partnership with Successful Grants, which will help those smaller organisations that might be unfamiliar with the tender process and overwhelmed by the writing task,’ Ms Sturgess said.

 

Community Wellbeing and Resilience Flood Recovery Grants program 

The grants program has a key focus on young people, older people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the NSW local government areas of Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tweed, Ballina, Byron, Kyogle and Clarence Valley.

Healthy North Coast is inviting proposals for the following eligible community-led activities or services:

  • Trauma-based education programs: Training and education programs such as trauma education or personal resilience programs, that promote trauma-informed principles and practices.
  • Social and emotional wellbeing: Clinical or psychosocial trauma-informed interventions that improve wellbeing and increase emotional resilience.
  • Cultural connection: Activities that strengthen cultural connection
  • Social and community connection: Initiatives that build individual or community connections to support recovery. Examples include, but are not limited to, neighbourhood networks, peer support groups, etc.

 

Grant application assistance and submission 

As well as offering assistance with the grant application process, Successful Grants has also distilled the tender documents into an easy-to-read one-page document, so that organisations can quickly assess their eligibility for the program.

If you are a local community-based organisation and would like to access this assistance, please email [email protected]

For more information on the Community Wellbeing and Resilience Flood Recovery Grants program, including how to apply, visit https://hnc.org.au/community-wellbeing-and-resilience-flood-recovery-grants-program/

Applications close at 8am on Friday 27 May 2022.

 

10

May

2022

Flood-recovery grants open to support community wellbeing

Healthy North Coast invites proposals from non-government providers to apply for funding available through the three-year, $5 million Community Wellbeing and Resilience Flood Recovery Grants program.

Grants will be awarded to organisations helping the community from the ground up, by providing community-based trauma and healing programs that support local recovery and build community resilience following the recent flood events.

Funded by the NSW Government as part of the Northern NSW flood recovery package, the grants will be delivered by Healthy North Coast to aid community recovery efforts.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer, Julie Sturgess, said the program would support vulnerable communities to recover from flood impacts and strengthen their capacity to meet future challenges.

‘We know many people are focussing on the basics right now – a roof over their heads, settling kids at school, getting businesses up and running again.

‘Alongside these practical considerations, we also need to address rebuilding community connections that are so vital for a positive outlook when times are tough. This is about supporting hearts and minds to get the North Coast back on its feet,’ said Ms Sturgess.

The grants program has a key focus on young people, older people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the NSW local government areas of Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tweed, Ballina, Byron, Kyogle and Clarence Valley.

‘We’re looking for innovative proposals that get people connecting, communicating, learning and supporting each other – all the activities that tap into the social support networks that our region is already known for.

“Trauma-based education programs are also important to give our community the tools to support recovery from the recent natural disasters.

‘We know community leaders are already working to respond to local needs, which is why development of grant proposals and delivery of programs will be coordinated locally to enable tailored, community-led solutions, ’ Ms Sturgess said.

Funding will be allocated to selected proposals with a budget of $100,000 – $200,000 per year, and multi-year projects will be considered.

Community Wellbeing and Resilience Flood Recovery Grants program Healthy North Coast is inviting proposals for the following eligible community-led activities or services:

28

Mar

2022

New service supports community’s mental health

Collaboration, cooperation and the desire to help those in need has seen the establishment of a new mental health support service in Lismore just 4 weeks after floods devastated the region.

The Lismore Head to Health Hub begins operating today. It is located at Healthy North Coast’s new Lismore Primary Health Precinct, which opened its doors only last week at Southern Cross University.

Funded by the Australian Government through the PHN Program as part of the Northern NSW flood recovery efforts, Head to Health offers free mental health support both in-person and through telehealth. Head to Health Hubs are designed to provide a welcoming entry point for engagement, assessment and treatment for people who may be experiencing distress or crisis.

The intent of the Head to Health Lismore Hub is to offer immediate care and service navigation to connect people to the right services based on need. It is also a priority of the Head to Health model to provide culturally safe responses to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

No referrals are needed.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Julie Sturgess said the new service would ensure the community in and around Lismore has access to the mental health support they need.

‘We recognise that specific components of the new service will be essential to help people deal with the trauma they’ve experienced and its after-effects,’ Ms Sturgess said.

‘Mental health support is in high demand right now and into the foreseeable future. The impacts of the floods and, before this disaster, the ongoing pandemic means we all need to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing.

‘Establishing the Lismore Head to Health Hub has been a great example of responding to local community needs. We’ve fast-tracked the service launch thanks to the many willing hands.

‘Our own Healthy North Coast teams, supported by SCU staff, have pulled out all stops. Local suppliers and tradies have worked tirelessly to transform the building, and the dedicated service providers at Neami National who will start delivery services today have all made this possible.’

‘This service is designed to be a one-door for anyone seeking mental health support. Qualified staff can direct you to the service, information or resource that best suits your needs.’

Call Head to Health on 1800 595 212 from Monday to Friday 8:30am-5:00pm or visit the Lismore Head to Health Hub at Southern Cross University’s Health Clinic, P Block North, Rifle Range Road, East Lismore.

Find out more at hnc.org.au/headtohealth

Head to Health is not a crisis service. For immediate 24/7 support contact:

  • Mental Health Access Line 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

In an emergency call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

-ENDS-

23

Mar

2022

Doors open on new Lismore Primary Health Precinct at Southern Cross University Health Clinic

Caption (L-R): The Hon Kevin Hogan MP, Federal Member for Page; Tony Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Social Futures;  Professor Julie Jomeen, Executive Dean, Faculty of Health, Southern Cross University; Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer, Julie Sturgess; Chelsea Luker, Psychologist, Connect Us Psychology; Kyle Wood, Pharmacist and Managing Partner, Southside ChemPro; at the launch of the Lismore Primary Health Precinct established by Healthy North Coast at Southern Cross University Health Clinic.

Healthy North Coast has today opened doors on the new Lismore Primary Health Precinct at Southern Cross University Health Clinic, giving flood-impacted primary care providers a new home and providing Lismore residents access to vital primary health services they urgently need.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Office Julie Sturgess says she is delighted to see the new precinct established and operational just three weeks after the flood emergency.

“It is a real testament to the spirit of collaboration across the Northern Rivers that we have been able to rapidly coordinate alternative clinic spaces for primary health providers that would otherwise be displaced,” said Ms Sturgess.

Funded by the Australian Government through the PHN Program as part of the Northern NSW flood recovery efforts, the new precinct has the capacity to house more than 20 primary health services, including general practice, pharmacy, pathology, mental health, and a range of other allied health services.

“There is an overwhelming community demand for these services, so operating from the new Lismore Primary Health Precinct ensures our local providers can remain viable, continue to generate income and, most importantly, care for their clients,” said Ms Sturgess.

“Today, Healthy North Coast is also launching a new online directory of primary care services onsite so that community members can find out more and make appointments. To view the directory, visit hnc.org.au/lismore-primary-health-precinct.

“I also want to extend my thanks to Southern Cross University for supporting the initiative and working with Healthy North Coast to stand up this new Primary Health Precinct so quickly.

“I want to emphasise that this is not a pop-up operation. We are certainly here to meet the immediate need for primary health service continuity and are also working through the medium- to long-term provider and community needs, so we can respond appropriately based on future plans for recovery.

“The resilience and determination shown by our primary care providers to rapidly relocate is matched only by our local community’s determination and strength to recover from this natural disaster event,” Ms Sturgess said.

22

Mar

2022

headspace Kempsey opens doors to better youth mental health

Healthy North Coast and the Samaritans are delighted to open the doors on a dedicated headspace Kempsey offering free or low-cost, holistic and youth-friendly health care and advice.

Located at 65 Smith Street, Kempsey, on the traditional homelands of the Dunghutti nation, the new headspace Kempsey service has been funded by Healthy North Coast through the Australian Government’s PHN Program to meet the needs of young people in the community.

“As well as the usual challenges of growing up and finding your place, young people in our region have also had to deal with the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of natural disasters over the past two years,” said Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer, Julie Sturgess.

“Now, thanks to Samaritans’ community partnerships, strong advocacy from our Federal Nationals Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan, and the support of Kempsey Shire Council, young people in Kempsey now have a dedicated centre purpose-built to meet their needs,” said Ms Sturgess.

Liz Knight, Executive Director of Education and Child Development in the Samaritans Foundation based in Newcastle, said that the last few years have been uncertain times for all.

“The Samaritans Foundation is strongly committed to providing high-quality, early intervention youth services that empower young people to overcome challenges and engage with their community to find their purpose and flourish.

“We know that youth mental health continues to be a leading cause of concern for our region, and one that needs to be addressed with a person-centred, compassionate and inclusive approach. Our work in this regard is a true reflection of the Anglican Church’s commitment to ensuring that no person feels alone on their mental health journey,” said Ms Knight.

headspace offers early intervention services across four key areas—mental health, related physical health, social and vocational support, and alcohol and other drug use. Services are co-designed with young people to ensure they are relevant, accessible and highly effective, including input from Samaritan’s Youth Representative Group (YRG).

While Kempsey’s young people can now access the headspace service, which is receiving referrals by phone or email, more details will be released soon about a community launch event planned for the coming weeks.

For more information or to access headspace Kempsey:

-ENDS-

12

Mar

2022

Lismore doctors offering street-side appointments

Lismore Clinic has opened its door to patients after nearly two weeks of being closed. But it’s a different kind of door. 

Thanks to the generosity of Street Side Medics and coordination by our Healthy North Coast Team, Lismore Clinic is currently seeing patients from a mobile medical centre parked out the front of their flood-damaged building at 185 Molesworth Street. 

The Street Side Medics van, fully stocked with medical supplies and equipment, is being loaned free of charge by this not-for-profit organisation who normally provides medical services to people experiencing homelessness in NSW. 

Today, Street Side Medics founder and Young Australian of the Year, Daniel Nour, met with Lismore Clinic and Healthy North Coast staff to do a walkthrough and handover.  

Positioned outside Lismore Clinic’s character-filled 1906 building, the state-of-the-art van is being staffed by their GPs over the weekend from 10am – 1pm, with extended hours likely next week. 

Clinic staff could not be more appreciative of the opportunity to start seeing their patients again. 

‘This building is over a hundred years old, so it has been through a lot of floods in the past, but nothing like this one,’ said Dr Emily Walker, Lismore Clinic GP.  

‘We lost a lot of equipment, probably about 50% of equipment. 

Being able to use the van as a temporary consult space has brought a smile, and a tear or two, to clinic staff. 

‘It’s really fantastic. There is so much equipment, as I said, that we don’t have, such as the ECG machine that this van has. The Wi-Fi has been incredibly helpful – the internet has been quite patchy. Just having things like dressings, a vaccine fridge, we’ll be able to provide the basic services that we’ve been longing to provide but have been unable to,’ said Dr Walker. 

We’ve got over ten thousand patients on our books that have not been able to see us over the last couple of weeks, it’s going to make a huge difference. 

‘Patients will really appreciate being able to come to see their usual doctors even if it’s in a slightly unusual environment. 

‘We’re hoping to get the rest of the clinic open up soon as well, bit by bit, so we can start to expand our capacity.’ 

This is just one initiative Healthy North Coast has supported across our flood-affected region to help primary health services get back on their feet. See the full list of Lismore local general practices, Aboriginal medical services and pharmacies available on our website.

If you aren’t able to access the van or your local GP, Healthy North Coast’s PHN Program also funds the free 24/7 GP Telehealth service who offer same-day appointments, including electronic prescriptions. Please call 1800 931 158. 

This is not an emergency medical service. In a medical emergency, please call Triple Zero (000).