Media

08

Dec

2022

North Coast Health Connect – a new front door to local healthcare

Residents living in Port Macquarie area postcodes will be the first to benefit from a free new service that aims to improve access to local healthcare.

North Coast Health Connect, launched on December 8, offers a free 1800 phone number or live web chat for residents to speak with a registered nurse any time of the day or night, including public holidays.

Funded by Healthy North Coast through the North Coast PHN program and delivered by Amplar Health, the new service ensures urgent health concerns can be assessed quickly and confidentially by a trusted health professional. If needed, residents can be connected with a local service or a virtual care appointment.

Healthy North Coast’s Chief Executive Monika Wheeler said the service opens a new front door to local health care, including urgent care, for those unsure about the next step, helping to ease pressure on hospital resources.

‘We understand when there is a health urgency it’s important to get advice quickly no matter the time of day. North Coast Health Connect nurses will assess your symptoms and provide on-the-spot advice,’ said Ms Wheeler.

‘Most people don’t want to go to a hospital emergency department if they can avoid it, but it can be hard to get a GP appointment in some areas. Medical issues also often strike after hours when local services are closed.

‘North Coast Health Connect offers an alternative, with nurses on-call around the clock, ready to listen to your health concerns and connect you to the right level of care at the right time, including bookings with a local GP or pharmacist,’ said Ms Wheeler.

Ms Wheeler said the need to see a GP face-to-face for some health concerns will never change and North Coast Health Connect is supported by participating local general practices who have made appointments available specifically for users of the North Coast Health Connect service. Local pharmacists have also signed up to make consultations available.

Amplar Health Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andrew Wilson, said the Amplar team is thrilled to be selected to deliver the North Coast Health Connect service, as improving primary care access is a key element to ensuring the sustainability of healthcare in Australia.

‘We look forward to providing our digital and clinical expertise to deliver a service for Healthy North Coast that increases access, choice and control for the local community,’ Dr Wilson said.

Mid North Coast Local Health District Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick said he fully supported this new and innovative model and will be promoting North Coast Health Connect through the Mid North Coast hospital system.

‘It’s up to all of us to make the best possible use of our hospital resources and keep our emergency departments for emergencies,’ said Mr Dowrick.

‘For those who may have been struggling to access the health system, North Coast Health Connect is a direct line to a qualified and experienced health professional, rather than facing a long wait in a busy ED, ‘ Mr Dowrick said.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim applauded Healthy North Coast for their innovation in a health system under increasing stress.

‘The Australian health system is under enormous pressure, and there is an important role for pharmacists to play in supporting patients with non-urgent health care needs, Dr Sim said.

‘Services like North Coast Health Connect that connect patients with an appropriate healthcare profession – whether it be a GP, a pharmacist, or another health professional – are vital to ensuring our health system efficiently utilises all resources,’ said Dr Sim.

Ms Wheeler said North Coast Health Connect delivers on what the North Coast community asked for – being able to speak to a health expert for free over a convenient and confidential 24/7 channel with connections to face-to-face local health care.

‘We are excited to see Port Macquarie residents be the first to get on board. We encourage you to speak with a North Coast Health Connect nurse on 1800 198 888 or live chat at northcoasthealthconnect.org.au next time you have an urgent health issue,’ said Ms Wheeler.

Healthy North Coast is planning to make North Coast Health Connect available to all North Coast residents in early 2023.

North Coast Health Connect will also be evaluated by world-leading medical research centre, The George Institute for Global Health, over the next five years.

To find out more about North Coast Health Connect, visit northcoasthealthconnect.org.au

07

Dec

2022

Healthy North Coast announces appointment of new Chief Executive

Healthy North Coast, which delivers the Australian Government’s Primary Health Network program in our region, announces Monika Wheeler’s appointment as their new Chief Executive.

Ms Wheeler brings 20 years of experience working in primary healthcare and social policy across the local, state, and national levels of government and the not-for-profit sector. Some of these roles have been at Healthy North Coast, the NSW Ministry of Health, as a Policy Adviser to Australian Government Minister Tanya Plibersek MP, and with the United Nations.

Dr Adrian Gilliland, Independent Chair of Healthy North Coast, said the Board was delighted with the decision and opportunity to make this announcement before the end of the year.

‘Monika has been in the acting role since former Chief Executive Julie Sturgess’ departure in September this year. The Board would like to thank Julie for her work. She led Healthy North Coast with passion, vision and unceasing commitment to our North Coast Community that has faced devastating bushfires, unprecedented floods and a global pandemic. ‘Monika has continued the journey to enhance Healthy North Coast as a Primary Health Network recognised for its innovation, collaboration with other agencies and ability to get things done,’ said Dr Gilliland.

‘Monika has spent almost ten years at Healthy North Coast, the last four as the Executive Director for Wellness. Her appointment to Chief Executive will undoubtedly further strengthen the organisation’s position as a leader in regional primary health,’ added Dr Gilliland.

‘Primary health care is at a critical juncture. A growing ageing population is increasing the demand placed on our healthcare system and workforce. The impact of climate change on our health and wellbeing is and will continue to be experienced locally. And the slower uptake of digital connectivity in the health sector has held us back in advancing a connected health system experience.

‘We need to remain focused on preventative and primary care — every dollar spent in primary and preventative health is worth two dollars in hospital services for long-term health outcomes,’ said Dr Gilliland.

‘Monika brings an impressive level of strategic and operational knowledge and experience. She is committed to working collaboratively with local partners and stakeholders and to ensuring North Coast community voices are at the centre of decision-making. These are key principles for supporting value-based primary care that is easy to access and delivers better health outcomes in our region,’ added Dr Gilliland.

Born in Lismore, where she also went to school, Ms Wheeler expressed gratitude for the efforts of recent times. As the new Chief Executive for Healthy North Coast, she looks forward to continuing to work with the Board, staff, GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, Aboriginal medical services, local health districts and other key stakeholders to improve health outcomes for North Coast communities.

‘Our region has sustained huge pressure, particularly in the last four years, with multiple natural disasters and COVID. Our primary care workforce has risen to the challenge of supporting our communities. Service providers have worked tirelessly to keep people healthy in the community and, where possible, to avoid the need for hospital care,’ said Ms Wheeler.

‘The North Coast is expected to see our ageing population continue to grow. Nearly one in three North Coast residents is expected to be 65 years or older in the next ten years – twice the NSW and national averages. We must create a future-ready health system that is able to meet this growing demand,’ said Ms Wheeler.

‘We need to make health services easier to access, empower the community to make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce the burden of chronic illness. Healthy North Coast is well-placed to drive these changes in collaboration with GPs, allied health professionals and other stakeholders. I look forward to building on the achievements of recent years and to supporting the next phase of our strategic focus,’ said Ms Wheeler.

14

Oct

2022

Don’t be complacent despite end to COVID-19 isolation rules

Healthy North Coast Acting Chief Executive, Monika Wheeler, is urging North Coast residents to stay vigilant when it comes to COVID-19.

‘With mandatory self-isolation rules changing today Friday 14 October, it would be easy to think COVID is no longer a threat to our community.

‘In case people think COVID-19 has faded away, in the past week in NSW there have been 6,799 cases confirmed by RATs and 3,968 cases confirmed by PCR tests, so the virus is still quite active.

‘There is also the possibility of new COVID-19 strains emerging, so we can’t be complacent,” Ms Wheeler said.

Following a national Cabinet decision earlier this month, all Australian states and territories agreed that from 14 October 2022, it will no longer be mandatory to self-isolate at home if you test positive for COVID-19 unless you work in the health or aged care sector.

“It’s still vital, however, that we all work together to keep our community safe,” said Ms Wheeler.

‘Since the arrival of COVID-19, we have learnt a lot about infection control and reducing the spread of diseases like COVID-19 and influenza.

‘The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and influenza is to continue to follow the health advice we know so well – be vaccinated, wash your hands, stay home if you are unwell and get tested if you have symptoms,” Ms Wheeler said.

“To protect our most vulnerable, all people over the age of 12 must still wear a face mask at public hospitals, private health or residential care facilities, and hostels.

‘It’s still very important to stay up-to-date with vaccinations, particularly for children, and to book in for your relevant COVID-19 booster,” Ms Wheeler said.

The NSW Government has also ended mandatory reporting of positive rapid antigen tests.

However, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant asks people to continue to report positive results, as it allows NSW Health to connect people to medical care – particularly older people and the immunocompromised.

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

05

Sep

2022

Lismore Head to Health broadens community support with new opening hours

Lismore’s Head to Health Hub has extended its opening times, now open after-hours and on weekends, making it even easier for local residents to access mental health support.

Located at the Lismore Health Precinct at Southern Cross University, the Lismore Head to Health hub is now open Monday-Friday 10am to 8pm and Saturday-Sunday 12 noon to 8pm.

Funded by Healthy North Coast through the PHN Program, Head to Health offers free mental health support both in-person and over the phone.

Healthy North Coast CEO Julie Sturgess said Head to Health was a welcoming entry point for engagement, assessment and treatment for people seeking mental health advice and support.

‘With all that has been thrown at our community over the past two years, there’s no shame in saying you’re feeling overwhelmed or just want to talk things through,’ Ms Sturgess said.

‘It’s really important that we prioritise our mental health and wellbeing and reach out if we need help.’

Healthy North Coast has recently commissioned local provider Open Minds to provide the in-person Lismore Head to Health service for those aged 18 and over. Referrals are not necessary and walk-ins are welcome.

Call 1800 595 212 weekdays from 8.30am-5pm to chat to a team member who can connect you with support.

‘Head to Health is free and can connect you to the right mental health information, counselling and services to suit your needs. I really hope people take that first step rather than push their concerns aside,’ said Ms Sturgess.

For more information, free call 1800 595 212 or visit https://hnc.org.au/head-to-health-helpline.

The Lismore Head to Hub is located at the Lismore Health Precinct, Southern Cross University Health Clinic, P Block North, Rifle Range Road, East Lismore.

Head to Health is not an emergency service. For 24/7 emergency support, call:

  • 24hr Mental Health Line — 1800 011 511
  • Lifeline — 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue — 1300 224 636
  • For children under 12 years: Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800

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

16

Aug

2022

Message from Healthy North Coast’s Chair — CEO changes

On behalf of the Healthy North Coast Board, it is with great regret that I advise that Julie Sturgess, our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of 4 years, will soon be leaving Healthy North Coast to take up another opportunity in the primary care sector.  

In the time that Julie has been with us, she has led Healthy North Coast with passion, vision and unceasing commitment to our North Coast community that has faced devastating bushfires, unprecedented floods, and a global pandemic. She leaves Healthy North Coast as a primary health network recognised for its innovation, collaboration with other agencies, and ability to get things done. 

Julie’s many achievements in the 4 years she has been with us include: 

  • leadership and support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for our community and primary care providers, including the establishment of GP Respiratory Clinics, establishing telehealth services, provision of PPE and driving our vaccination campaign to achieve an outstanding vaccination rate of more than 95% for double doses 
  • in the wake of the recent devastating floods across the Northern Rivers, scaling up our 24-hr free GP telehealth service for people in need, establishing the Lismore Primary Health Precinct and Lismore Head to Health hub within weeks of the floods, rolling out a mobile GP clinic, and setting up 4 Safe Haven community support and wellbeing hubs to provide critical mental health support to hard-hit communities 
  • ongoing development of an innovative model to improve community access to primary care, delivering professional and accredited nurse triage services through phone and web channels, and reducing the burden on hospital emergency departments  
  • establishing the North Coast Collective, which harnesses the collaborative efforts of our local health districts, the NSW Government agencies of Health, Community and Justice, Education, Police and Emergency Services, Aboriginal Affairs NSW and the Aboriginal Community-Controlled sector, health consumers, community members and local health and social providers to improve health outcomes for our region 
  • development of a System Dynamics Modelling tool, currently used in services planning and modelling for our Mental Health and the other Drugs, Healthy Ageing and Aboriginal Health programs. 

With all these achievements and many more, Julie leaves our organisation and community in a much stronger position than when she arrived, with robust governance, quality and organisational structures and a commitment to healthy communities as a cornerstone of Healthy North Coast’s approach.  

Julie will be finishing with our organisation on 9 September 2022, following which Monika Wheeler, current Executive Director of Wellness, will commence as Acting CEO until the Board finalises a formal CEO appointment.  

Monika is well-known and respected in the North Coast Primary Health community. She has over 15 years’ experience leading social policy strategy and health service delivery and holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Sydney. Monika has worked at the local, state, national and international levels in government and not-for-profit organisations, including over 6 years in various leadership roles with Healthy North Coast.  

The Healthy North Coast Board wishes Julie all the best for her future endeavours. We thank her for her leadership through challenging times and her steadfast commitment to improving community health outcomes across the North Coast.  

Dr Adrian Gilliland
Board Chair
Healthy North Coast

27

Jul

2022

New Safe Havens offer mental health support across Northern Rivers

The NSW Government and Healthy North Coast today launched four new Safe Haven community support and wellbeing hubs across the Northern Rivers region to offer mental health support and build community resilience.

Established and funded by Healthy North Coast through the New South Government Northern NSW Flood Recovery Program, the four sites will be delivered and managed by local organisation, The Buttery. Located in Lismore, Murwillumbah, Mullumbimby and Woodburn, Safe Haven hubs will offer a free ‘drop-in’ service that operates 7 days a week, from 12-6pm.

Healthy North Coast CEO Julie Sturgess welcomed the Safe Haven hubs as places of support and refuge, offering immediate, personalised and compassionate mental health support and counselling.

‘The North Coast has been hit hard recently by the devastating floods, coming off the back of the pandemic and other natural disasters,’ said Ms Sturgess.

‘We know many people are focussing on the basics right now, but we are also seeing great demand for mental health support to catch those in immediate distress or who might be feeling overwhelmed.

‘If you or someone you know needs mental health support and is not sure where to turn, I urge you to visit or recommend one of our Safe Havens.

‘You don’t need a referral. You don’t need to book. All services are free. If you need someone to talk to, walk in and we will help, weekdays or weekends,’ said Ms Sturgess.

NSW Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the four centres have been specially designed to provide a welcoming environment and offer a wide range of services, including information, referrals and counselling support.

‘These Safe Havens are an approachable, welcoming alternative for people in distress who require acute mental health support and may be uncomfortable presenting to a busy emergency department,’ Mrs Taylor said.

‘We are proud these four new centres located across Northern NSW will be open to help people who have been overwhelmed by the weather events this year.

‘The NSW Government is investing $25 million over three years in mental wellbeing for flood impacted communities. $1 million of this funding is dedicated to the four Safe Havens in Northern NSW, with a further $7 million for clinical and non-clinical staff in the region, including staff at the four Safe Havens,” Mrs Taylor said.

Ms Sturgess also outlined that The Buttery, a well-established, not-for-profit mental health and specialist drug and alcohol organisation, was commissioned by Healthy North Coast through a competitive tender process.

‘The Buttery has been supporting the North Coast community since 1973 and has provided services to over 5,000 participants in its residential programs and 20,000 participants in its outreach services,’ Ms Sturgess said.

The Buttery Chief Executive Officer Leone Crayden said experienced mental health clinicians at each site will support anyone who arrives and needs urgent mental health support.

‘Safe Haven staff are trained in crisis response, acute interventions, counselling and case management. Non-clinical supports, such as peer support from those with lived experience, are also available.

‘Staff can refer clients to other mental health support services in the region and connect them with community services to address underlying factors causing their distress. These factors could include serious mental health concerns, drug and alcohol conditions, and stresses related to housing, finances, relationships, unemployment – anything affecting their mental health and wellbeing.

‘The response has been very positive with community members already dropping into the Safe Havens to receive support,” said Ms Crayden.

Ms Sturgess said Safe Haven hubs are culturally safe spaces, offering support to all community members, including people who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians and people from the LGBTQIA+ community.

‘Everyone seeking mental health support, including their family, friends and carers, should feel welcome at a Safe Haven hub,‘ said Ms Sturgess.

For more information:

  • Visit www.safehavennc.org.au or drop into your community’s Safe Haven at:
    • Murwillumbah Safe Haven
    Shop 10-12, 41-45 Murwillumbah Street, Murwillumbah
  • Mullumbimby Safe Haven
    15 Tincogan Street, Mullumbimby
  • Lismore Safe Haven
    The Quad, 10 Magellan Street, Lismore
  • Woodburn Safe Haven
    Visitors Information Centre, 114 River Street, Woodburn
15

Jul

2022

Fourth COVID vaccine dose protects the vulnerable

As COVID-19 continues to circulate in our communities, Healthy North Coast is encouraging all those who are eligible for a fourth vaccine dose to book now. 

From Monday, 11 July an additional 7.4 million Australians became eligible to receive a fourth vaccination. This followed the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) updating its recommendations. 

ATAGI now recommends that people aged 50 to 64 years should have their fourth dose. People aged 30 to 49 years may choose to have a fourth shot, as they are now eligible. 

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer Julie Sturgess said ATAGI had also reduced the recommended interval between vaccinations from 4 months to 3 months. The interval between a person catching COVID and recovering, and their next recommended vaccine dose, is also 3 months. 

‘The North Coast has an outstanding COVID vaccination rate – greater than 95% for people aged 15-plus who have had 2 doses, but it is important to continue to strengthen protection given COVID-19 variants are still circulating,’ Ms Sturgess said. 

‘For those who’ve had 3 or more shots, we’re slightly behind the NSW average – 66% compared to 68% as of 10 July. 

‘It’s important we all stay up to date to protect ourselves and our community and help lessen the strain on the health system.’ 

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. 

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

In other recent changes, all Australians aged over 70 who test positive to COVID will be able to access antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme. 

Access will also be expanded to: 

  • people aged over 50 with two or more risk factors for severe disease 
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged over 30 with two or more risk factors for severe disease 
  • immunocompromised people over 18 who may also be eligible. 
  • Antiviral treatments, taken as a tablet or capsule, help to stop COVID-19 infection from becoming severe – but they need to be started early after testing positive,’ Ms Sturgess said. 

Influenza vaccination 

Healthy North Coast is urging North Coast residents to take advantage of free flu shots offered by the NSW Government up to 17 July and to book a vaccination appointment with their GP or local pharmacy as soon as possible. 

‘The influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and over,’ Ms Sturgess said. 

‘It can be given on the same day as the COVID-19 vaccine. There are over 200 locations across the North Coast where people can access their COVID or flu vaccines, including GPs and pharmacies.’ 

Ms Sturgess said people should continue to take precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and influenza, such as: 

  • staying at home if you are sick and avoiding close contact with other people to protect yourself and the community 
  • wearing a mask in indoor spaces if you are unable to physically distance 
  • sneezing into your elbow instead of your hands 
  • washing your hands thoroughly and often. 
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.

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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:

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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).