NSW homeless hotspot

Latest figures on homelessness show rises across most eastern Australian states, with Sydney and New South Wales faring worst.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data indicates that in the five years to 2016, homelessness rose by 37 per cent across NSW. Overall, more than 116,000 people were homeless in August 2016, a rise of almost 14 per cent on 2011.

There was a 180 per cent rise in NSW for men living in severe overcrowding, in groups aged 35-44 and 65-74.

The largest increase of 72 per cent was for those living in “severely” crowded dwellings, from 9655 people in 2011 to 16,821 - an increase of 7166. The ABS defines severe overcrowding as needing four or more extra bedrooms to properly house all occupants.

By comparison, homelessness rose 14 per cent in Queensland, 11 per cent in Victoria 5.5 per cent in Tasmania. In the Australian Capital Territory, the figure fell 8 per cent for the period.

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1 in 20 die from alcohol and illegal drugs

New data shows that one in 20 Australians die through misuse of illegal drugs and alcohol. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analysis used data from the 2011 Australian Burden of Disease Study published in 2016, to calculate the health impact ‑ or 'burden' ‑ of alcohol and illicit drugs.

“This is calculated in terms of years of life lost from early death (the ‘fatal burden’), as well as the years of healthy life lost due to living with diseases or injuries caused by alcohol and drugs (the ‘non-fatal burden’).

“The report shows that alcohol and illicit drugs were collectively responsible for 6.7 per cent of Australia’s combined fatal and non-fatal disease burden. This compares to 9 per cent from tobacco smoking and 2.6 per cent from physical inactivity.

“The burden was much higher in males than females ­‑ alcohol and illicit drugs were responsible for 9.1 per cent of all disease burden in males, compared to 3.8 per cent in females,’ said AIHW spokeswoman Dr Lynelle Moon.

“Combined, alcohol and illicit drugs were responsible for 4.5 per cent of all deaths in Australia in 2011 ‑ equating to 6660 deaths, or about 1 in every 20,’ Dr Moon said.

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Mental health boost for Royal Flying Doctor Service

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) will establish a mental health clinic for people living in rural and remote areas after an Australian Government funding boost.

The $20 million of additional funding will go towards dental care and mental health in an overall package of $84 million.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it would “enable the employment of additional mental health nurses and psychologists by the RFDS, which of course provides medical care to over 330,000 people a year".

RFDS chief executive Martin Laverty said the money meant vital services would not have to be wound back.

“People in regional Australia access mental health services at only one-fifth of the rate of people who live in the city. If that's not a crisis, I really don't know what is,” he told ABC News.

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Aged care quality and safety comes first says minister

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt says the provision of safe, quality care 24 hours a day, every day of the year, in aged care homes in the Bundaberg area and across the nation is non-negotiable.

“The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency is responsible for administering the stringent laws, compliance and regulations that are in place, including the Turnbull Government’s new regime of unannounced auditing of homes,” Minister Wyatt said.

After numerous reported issues, Mr Wyatt said: “Bundaberg’s BlueCare Aged Care Services last received an unannounced inspection on 27 March and continues to be subject to strict improvement notices.

“I have asked the Agency for a detailed report on the progress of these Bundaberg services.”

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‘Growing Catastrophe’ for Victorians with severe mental illness

A new report has estimated that 90 per cent of Victorians living with severe mental illness will be worse off under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with vital community support services set to be decommissioned to fund the initiative.

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Fund it and Fix it campaign launched

The Every Australian Counts lobby group has launched a Fund it and Fix it campaign because the National Disability Insurance Scheme needs to fixed and full funding provided.

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'Short-sighted': NDIS harming mental health services, report warns

The Age reports on a Victorian woman deemed ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Nicci Wall, who is on a disability support pension, was rejected as she was deemed to not meet the criterion that "a person is likely to require support under the NDIS for their lifetime".

"I can't get any services other than mainstream," Ms Wall said.

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Seeking submissions to senate

Accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia are being investigated by the Australian Senate. The investigation will look at:

(a)          the nature and underlying causes of rural and remote Australians accessing mental health services at a much lower rate;
(b)          the higher rate of suicide in rural and remote Australia;
(c)           the nature of the mental health workforce;
(d)          the challenges of delivering mental health services in the regions;
(e)          attitudes towards mental health services;
(f)           opportunities that technology presents for improved service delivery; and
(g)          any other relevant issues.

Submissions are due by 11 May and the reporting date is 17 October.

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