A new health brokerage service has been established for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the inner north of metropolitan Melbourne.

ASK (Access Services for Koories), located in Collingwood, Melbourne, has resulted from an alliance between the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) and the Northern Division of General Practice.

The Brokerage Program is aimed at increasing the access of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to high quality, culturally appropriate primary health care by linking individuals to a network of health providers.

The ASK brokerage project , located at 66 Sackville Street, Collingwood, joins similar services already operating in NSW and Western Australia.

The Food and Health Dialogue, which brings together government, industry and public health groups to address poor dietary habits amongst Australians, met for the sixth time last week to discuss progress against key milestones and priorities.

The Federal Minister for Health and Aging Nicola Roxon has revealed that a record 900 GPs have started training in 2011, a 50 per cent increase from 2007.

A recent report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that while life expectancy and education attainment rates continue to rise, gaps in health and education outcomes continue to exist between those living in cities and their regional counterparts.

ACT Health is developing a new ACT Primary Health Care Strategy which will follow from ACT Primary Health Care Strategy 2006-2009 to cover the years 2011-2014.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has released a series of new clinical practice guidelines to help diagnose and treat mental health problems.

A new $4 million, 15 bed mental health care facility has been opened by Mental Health Minister John Hill in South Australia.

A series of nine high-level medical research programs have been announced by the Federal government.

The long term strategy for improving the lives of Australians with disability, their families and carers has been launched by the Federal Government.

The New South Wales Liberals and Nationals have outlined a new $120 million " Preventative Health Fighting Fund" designed to reduce "avoidable" hospital admissions and improve quality of life for families.

Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge has unveiled a plan to use a series of in depth discussions to "promote robust debate and discussion" on ways to improve mental health care and Victorian mental health laws.

Victorian Health Minister David Davis launched Melbourne Health’s Respecting our Community Action Plan.

The draft ACT Primary Health Care Strategy has been released for public consultation, setting out seven priority areas for action to improve primary health care in the Territory.

Six workplace initiatives by the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services to improve patient and client care have been recognised by the awarding of this year’s Innovations in Practice Awards.

South Australia’s hospital system will have an additional 179 sub-acute beds and places with a focus on mental health as a result of new Commonwealth funding of $134 million for 12 South Australian projects.

Two new mental health rehabilitation centres will be built at Whyalla and Mount Gambier, three mental health crisis respite units will be built in the metropolitan area and a new ambulatory rehabilitation centre will be built at the Repatriation General Hospital.

The Victorian Health Incident Management System is now fully operational and will provide a system for reporting and monitoring any errors that occur within the hospital system.

The House of Representatives Education and Employment Committee is undertaking an inquiry into obstacles blocking access to education, training and employment opportunities for people with mental health issues.

The Productivity Commission has called for written submissions on its draft report on Disability Care and Support by 30 April.

The Federal Government has accepted the recommendations of the Clinical Trials Action Group report and will introduce changes intended to increase pharmaceutical research and development and improve the clinical trials approval process.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has commenced its Australian Health Survey, which will be conducted over 2011-12 with summary results available in late 2012.

The survey will involve about 50,000 randomly sampled adults and children from across Australia and will give a ‘snapshot’ of Australia’s health.

The survey builds on previous ABS health surveys, dating back to 1977, and includes an expanded nutrition and physical activity component to collect information on the population’s food and nutrient intake and physical activity levels.

It will also include for the first time a voluntary biomedical component, where blood and urine samples collected from survey participants will be analysed to provide information on chronic disease risk factors like high cholesterol and levels of nutrients such as iron or B vitamins.

The Australian Government is investing $48 million in the survey, with the National Heart Foundation contributing a further $4 million for this survey round.

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