Adelaide wastewater COVID-19 traces remain high but decreasing, SA Health authorities say

Testing results have shown a decrease in the levels of COVID-19 traces in Adelaide’s wastewater.

SA Health authorities first reported on Sunday they had detected coronavirus in sewage from the north-eastern portion of Adelaide’s CBD, where the majority of Adelaide Fringe festival events are held.

On Thursday, SA Health said while results from testing on Wednesday night were still high, there was a decrease in levels.

SA Health said the two most likely explanations were virus shedding in old cases along with the concentration of visitors in the Adelaide CBD or undetected cases within the community.

The northern parts of Adelaide’s CBD have been frequented by tens of thousands of people during the festival season.

For several days, authorities have been urging anyone who has had any coronavirus symptoms and has been in the CBD in the past week to get a COVID-19 test.

It comes as the state recorded three new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

One case was a woman in her thirties who recently returned from overseas and has been in a medi-hotel since her arrival.

The other two cases are a man in his twenties and a woman in her fifties who are both considered to have old infections.

SA Health said they had included the latter cases in South Australia’s numbers because the man and woman had not been diagnosed and counted overseas.

‘Very small’ chance positive results are from local case

Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett said the odds the positive results stemmed from a local case were very low.

“We’ve got a history now of no community transmission across Australia that extends beyond multiple incubation periods,” she said.

While the testing area does not include medi-hotels housing positive cases, it does include hotels where returned travellers carry out their quarantine period.

“Because we don’t test our returned travellers every day, it is possible they are picking up a family who is positive in hotel quarantine but hasn’t yet been detected through the internal testing process,” Ms Bennett said.

Ms Bennett said people who have had the infection can intermittently shed the virus for up to three months

“Holidays, festivals, movement of people, can shift the pattern and then you might start to detect some positives if you’ve got these ‘shedders’ moving through,” she said.

“We hope it’s that, but let’s get the testing numbers up so we detect anything else that might be going on very early and then it won’t be a problem even with the festivals underway.”

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Weekly CEO Update: We cannot wait another generation or more, for action

Already this year we’ve seen two key Royal Commission Reports handed down that have the ability to impact the future of mental health reform and service delivery and the lives of Australians – the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

These detailed and vital reports, coupled with the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and Vision 2030 collectively outline hundreds of recommendations combined, recommendations for action to improve our  mental health ecosystem.

And that’s the key point here, while the intent for reform has been collective and commendable, the time for review and reflection has finished and action must now follow, and soon, if we are to see the benefits of true generational reform.

This week is the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and for me it has been a clear reminder of how these crucial reports – informed as they are by listening to lived experience and practical data – can be a line in the sand, but also how the residual impact of action (or inaction) can determine and define true reform.

The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was, and still is, extremely high profile and important. 

It found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were not more likely than others to die in custody, but that they were ‘grossly over-represented in custody’, with a ‘significant’ contributing factor to the over-representation found to be inequality – whether it be social, economic, cultural or all three.

In 2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made up 28 per cent of the prisoner population in Australia, while the most recent census data says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for just three per cent of our population.

In South Australia, where there is a push to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years old to 14, First Nations children make up less than five per cent of the population but more than 60 per cent of the juvenile prison population. In the Northern Territory this was 100% in 2019.

So, if the 1987 Royal Commission highlighted ‘gross over-representation’ as a significant factor, it appears this factor remains a generation on, and that is our challenge, not just as advocates for reform but as advocates to improve the social structures of the communities in which we live and therefore their mental health and wellbeing.

As advocates, our challenge is to use these reports, and lines in the sand, to seek lasting system change and reform. They should be the blueprints from which we re-design the systems we need, and the systems that will address the ‘significant’ factors raised through such careful review.  

The final recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, number 339, reads:

That all political leaders and their parties recognise that reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in Australia must be achieved if community division, discord and injustice to Aboriginal people are to be avoided. To this end the Commission recommends that political leaders use their best endeavours to ensure bi-partisan public support for the process of reconciliation and that the urgency and necessity of the process be acknowledged.

To recognise is one thing, but to act is another. In this instance clearly our ‘best endeavours’ have not been enough over the last 30 years, which is why we need more than best endeavours to maximise the current opportunity for true generational mental health reform.

You can find a full list of recommendations from the 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody here, and you can also watch our Mental Health Australia – Welcome to country video here.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

Thank you and good luck to Melanie Cantwell

After more than 14 years at Mental Health Australia, across several positions, Deputy CEO Melanie Cantwell is sadly leaving Mental Health Australia. Along with the Board and staff I am sincerely grateful to Mel for her acumen, diligence and years of service and passionate commitment to mental health advocacy. She has always reminded us of the voices of consumers and carers, and she has been extremely generous in orientating me as the new CEO into the breadth of work of Mental Health Australia. We are sure you as the stakeholder community will join us in wishing Mel all the very best for a well-earned break and for future endeavours.

Welcome to two new staff members

We would also like to welcome two new staff members who started at Mental Health Australia this week. Rikke Brøchner Andersen who has joined us on secondment from the National Ethnic Disability Agency to help out with the Embrace Project two days a week, and Nikki Hogan who has started in a new Partnerships Manager role. Welcome to both Rikke and Nikki.

•    On Monday I will be meeting with Cindy Smith, CEO of the Australian Association of Social Workers and then with David Pearson CEO at The Australian Alliance to End Homelessness. Later Harry Lovelock and I will meet with Sam Rosevear and Sophie Nicole from Headspace to talk about their national policy agenda.

•    On Wednesday I will be attending an extended consultation with the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

•    Thursday I have an Industry Reference Group Meeting with the NDIA and later a Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance meeting.

•    On Friday I am excited to be a panellist at the LGBTIQ+ Conference Mental Health Panel: Health in Difference and then representing the mental health sector at the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities COVID-19 Health Advisory Group meeting.


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Dementia Australia
Dementia Australia represents the 459,000 Australians living with dementia and the almost 1.6 million Australians involved in their care.  We advocate for the needs of people living with all types of dementia, and for their families and carers, and provide support services, education and information. 

TeamHEALTH logo

TeamHEALTH is a for purpose organisation that supports people dealing with mental health concerns or mental illness. We seek to create community capacity for good mental health so that all people may lead a full and valued life.  

Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia Workshops
We are pleased to announce that we are holding 3 new workshops on the Framework in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. These free and newly expanded workshops will offer participants an opportunity to learn more about the Framework and hear how services have applied the Framework to their workplace. 
Registrations can be made using the following links:

Embrace Australia logo (a rectangle with a light and dark purple cultural stripe pattern with "embrace" and stylised outline of the Australian continent in the lower right corner).

Release of the Mental health and Suicide Prevention Interim Report

The House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health. The interim report can be accessed on the committee’s website.

Psychiatrists support addressing the issue of veteran suicide

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) believes that it is important to address the issue and work towards best possible care and help for Veterans. The concerning rates of mental health issues and suicide amongst veterans must be addressed, not only immediately, but appropriately.

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Tasmania Labor will form a Suicide Prevention Commission

A majority Labor Government would form a Suicide Prevention Commission to help identify and understand the factors and systematic issues that may contribute to suicide risk. Labor Leader, Rebecca White, said funding of $1 million a year would be given to the Commissioner to help government better understand the issues facing Tasmanians. “The Commissioner will make recommendations to government about the actions and strategies relevant to past and any future deaths by suicide,” Ms White said.

Read more


National standards for community managed organisations

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a consultation paper for National Safety and Quality Mental Health (NSQMH) Standards for Community Managed Organisations (CMOs). This is the first step in the development of NSQMH Standards for CMOs, which will help provide safety and quality assurance for community mental health service users, and best practice guidance for service providers and developers. The consultation paper is now available on the Commission’s website.

Nominations open for the 2021 LiFE Awards

Every year, the LiFE Awards recognise those who have gone above and beyond in their work for suicide prevention. This year, nominations are open in each State and Territory for the categories of: Outstanding Contribution, Communities in Action, Workplace, Priority Populations. Nominations for the LiFE Awards close on Sunday 18 April 2021.

Sign the Everybody’s Home petition on social housing

Everybody’s Home is asking you to sign this petition to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg urging him to commit funding for social housing. An expansion of social housing will give all Australians a fair go, balancing the housing market, providing families with security and creating jobs.

Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation corporate lunch

The Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation play an important role in early intervention and mental health education for young people whose family is impacted by mental illness. Their services are in more demand now than ever. As a registered charity they rely on support from the community, support you can show by booking a spot at the 2021 Corporate Lunch in Sydney on 21 May. Sponsored by Police Bank and hosted by Chanel Nine News Anchor Peter Overton, this year’s event includes an inspiring line-up of keynote speakers and the opportunity to see first-hand the benefits of our program from a Kookaburra kid. 100% of profits raised on the day will go towards helping the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation continue to grow their service and support more kids across Australia.



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Central Queensland health study finds regional diverse communities at ‘significant disadvantage’

When Bangladesh-born Shelly Nahar and her son moved to Rockhampton three years ago, she was still learning to speak English.

Even small talk was daunting, let alone explaining problems to a health professional.

“When I feel any problems and when I feel uncomfortable, of course, I’ll ask my husband first,” Ms Nahar said.

“Then I will ask [other family or friends], and sometimes I [search] the internet.”

Ms Nahar is among the 10 per cent of Australia’s population born in countries with a non-English-speaking background.

A Central Queensland Multicultural Association (CQMA) pilot project, Breaking the Barriers of Health Communication, found English proficiency was among many barriers to health care facing culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people.

It found CALD people in regional areas were at a higher risk of preventable diseases, complications, increased hospitalisation and increased mortality due to low health literacy.

Nepalese woman Dev Shrestha said the weeks following the birth of her son, Evan, were  “a really scary time”.

“I’m a new mum, so I have got a few issues with concern to my baby,” she said.

The Rockhampton mum said it took three trips to the emergency department and countless GP appointments for the six-month-old to be diagnosed with eczema, but they were still waiting to see a specialist.

“I felt living in a regional area was a bit of a disadvantage,” she said.

While Ms Shrestha’s English proficiency is good, she said she’d seen others from non-English-speaking backgrounds struggle.

“I think the majority of the CALD community also have similar kinds of issues, especially those living in regional areas.”

The pilot project’s leader, Neeta Ferdous, completed her Masters and PhD on the health of CALD communities in Australia.

Recommendations from the project have been given to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on how to break down barriers and where resources are needed.

“Regional, rural and remote CALD people are not getting those sorts of facilities or resources and we need to know where the problem is and [find] the solution.”

The study used data collected from 40 healthcare consumers and 15 public and private health professionals.

CQUniversity and Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service helped facilitate the research.

“In terms of health literacy, Rockhampton’s CALD population is more disadvantaged than the broader Queensland population, as well as the broader Australia-wide born overseas population,” the report stated.

Rockhampton exercise physiologist Samuel Warrener said he had minimal cultural training at university.

“We just try and look after them as best we can with the knowledge and pre-existing experience that we have, and asking them about themselves,” he said.

“It’s really important that we do get to know their background so that we know where they’re coming from and that way, we can make them as comfortable as we can when they come in and see us.

Pilot project officer Evie Perrins said professionals had not been using available resources, including translators or communication boards, which was contributing to communication difficulties.

“Health professionals within this region can choose to undertake cultural competency training … but it’s not mandatory, whereas comparatively, Indigenous cultural competency training is mandatory,” she said.

Ms Perrins said social support systems in metropolitan areas should be expanded across Queensland.

“Something like a multicultural liaison officer should be introduced to help bridge the cultural and linguistic gap between healthcare consumers and healthcare professionals [to assist individuals] navigating the healthcare system and speaking with their health professional,” she said.

The pilot project looked at people from 15 different countries, so Dr Ferdous said its scope was limited.

“There’s more research needed into exactly which cultures are going to suffer heightened disadvantage comparatively,” she said.

Researchers said the release of the report was timely considering COVID and its impact on CALD communities.

Central Queensland Multicultural Association president Dawn Hay said the organisation already helped vulnerable people, but much more needed to be done.

“It would be disappointing if it is not recognised at Commonwealth and state level in the healthcare systems that this is a growing concern, it’s not minor,” she said.

CQMA submitted its final progress report in December. A federal Department of Health spokesman said the government was considering the recommendations.

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5 At-home Trackers to Measure Muscle Gain vs. Fat Loss/Gain

Am I gaining muscle or fat? Is it fat loss or muscle loss ? These questions can leave you disappointed if the physical changes are happening and you can’t measure them at home. Maybe it’s time to find a new way to track your progress.

“Tracking precise improvements in body composition can be a challenging task to do at home, especially since at best many of the products and equations that are used to calculate these values are at best very good estimates.” says Jake Harcoff, head coach and owner of AIM Athletic (

He further adds, “While they may look a little scary to some people and tend to overestimate, there are some equations which are free and can be done at home to give you at least an idea of muscle mass and body fat percentage.”

  • Step 1: Weigh Yourself
  • Step 2: Calculate your body mass index using this formula
  • [body weight ÷ (height in inches)²] x 703 
  • Step 3: Calculate your body fat %
  • Men: (1.20 x BMI) + (0.23 x Age) – 16.2
  • Women: (1.20 x BMI) + (0.23 x Age) – 5.4 

Nurudeen Tijani, personal trainer, physique athlete and founder of TitaniumPhysique shares his piece of advise for tracking progress.

5 Ways to Calculating Muscle Gain vs. Fat Gain/Loss At Home while on diet and training program:

Use a Body Fat-Caliper

body fat calliper

Take a weekly measurement of your body fat using a fat caliper. The actual result of the fat caliper test is irrelevant. Instead, focus on your week-by-week results to determine whether you are gaining or losing fat. For example, if you measure 18% body fat or BF (Week #1) and 16% BF (Week #2), this indicates decreased body fat. As such, any weight gain during this time is mostly muscle gain, not fat gain.

Use a Bodyweight Scale

You can use a bodyweight scale combined with a body fat-caliper to track muscle gain vs fat loss progress. To accomplish this, you need to weigh yourself twice a week to determine your approximate weight. For example, weigh yourself Sunday night before bed and upon waking Monday morning. Then weigh yourself again, Monday night and Tuesday morning. The average of the four weight measurements should give you a reliable estimate of your actual weight.

If your week-by-week weight measurement is going up while your BF measurement decreases, you are gaining muscle weight, not fat.

Use a Tape Measure

fat gene

The waist is often a problem spot, and most people tend to accumulate fat in the waist, hips or thighs. To track fat gain/loss progress, take a weekly measurement of your waistline with a tape measure.

As you continue to implement your diet and muscle training program, your waist measurement should decrease week by week.

Use a Mirror

The abdominals offer a quick and easy way to measure fat loss progress visually. You can do a quick abs check in the morning upon waking up. If your abs are becoming more visible upon waking in the morning, you are losing fat.

Take Progress Photos


A person’s age, sex and genetics can influence where fat is stored in their body. While someone may accumulate fat in their hips, waist, or thighs, another person may gain fat in their chest or arms (triceps). These “trouble spots” are the last place most people will notice fat loss.

When you take and compare progress photos, you may notice fat loss in some parts of your body but not your trouble spots; this is an encouraging sign of fat loss progress. For best results with progress photos, take weekly front, side and rear shots for comparison.

If you’re training regularly, you can trust the fact that your body is changing. Your heart is learning to work more efficiently, your circulation is getting better.

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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how are you supposed to distract yourself from intrusive thoughts : mentalhealth

hello so to get this started im 17 and my phychologist says my ratings are extremely severe for depression, extremely severe for anxiety and severe for stress. i was diagnosed with ocd at the start of this year and that’s when i figured out that my intrusive thoughts werent normal.

i keep getting thoughts of me killing or just beating the shit outta my friends or my family, its not just that because in my mind i can see the blood flying, see their skulls dented in and hear the screams of them and i cant stop these thoughts and distacting myself from them is very difficult. i do nothing all day except for lay down in my bed and listen to music or watch videos but that doesnt distract me. ive been trying to distract myself with school work or playing video games but it doesnt work and i also dont find enjoyment in either of them

these thoughts also increase when i smoke weed. im only sometimes smoke like maybe once a week

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‘This is just bad public health policy’: New Ontario measures to curb COVID-19 draw fire

Sweeping new provincial measures designed to stem the spread of COVID-19 — including allowing police and bylaw enforcement officers to stop and question people in their cars and on the street — were met with widespread criticism on Friday.

“Blanket powers for police to stop vehicles like this bends our constitutional freedoms too far, and will cause a rash of racial profiling,” said Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

The new provincial measures, which included closing parks and playgrounds, were announced Friday afternoon by Ontario Premier Doug Ford as COVID-19 infections soared to new highs in Toronto and provincially.

The one-day total of new COVID-19 cases reported in Toronto on Friday was 1,527, a record. Provincially, the number of new cases was 4,812, also a record.

The number of weekly cases in Toronto is now 302 per 100,000 people — also a record high, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb, who has been tracking transmission data since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

The number of daily new cases in Ontario could hit 30,000 by the end of May unless drastic steps are taken, the province’s COVID-19 advisory panel of medical and scientific experts said Friday. It is currently approaching 5,000 a day, forcing local hospitals to set up tents to treat patients.

Ford said that beginning Saturday, police and bylaw officers will have the authority to stop people and ask them for their address and ask them why they’re not complying with the provincial stay-at-home order. Those who refuse to comply could face a $750 ticket.

People may still leave home to shop for groceries, to go the pharmacy or access health care.

“I am very concerned about arbitrary stops of people by police at any time and I will be reviewing the regulations extremely carefully and discussing them with the Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Police Chief,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a statement.

Both the provincial declaration of emergency and stay-at-home order have been extended for two more weeks.

“We are in the midst of an absolutely brutal third wave,” said Coun. Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina Fort-York), who heads the city’s Board of Health, in a statement. “The coming weeks will test us like never before.”

Existing lockdown measures have not yet slowed the spread of COVID-19, driven now by the more contagious U.K. variant, B.1.1.7.

Hospitalization rates in Toronto are the highest on record and are expected to increase, according to a press release from the city. Without strengthened public health measures, projections indicate it will take until late this summer to reduce new case counts.

Ford blamed the current problems on lack of vaccine supply from the federal government.

But epidemiologist Dr. Andrew Morris, who has been critical of the province’s handling of the crisis, said Friday that Ford and his government are to blame for the current crisis.

“We are not much further behind than other countries vis-a-vis vaccine supply,” said Morris, medical director of the Sinai Health System-University Health Network’s antimicrobial stewardship program.

“Challenges with vaccine supply should have been expected. Only Israel, the U.K., the U.S. and a few small countries have had enough. This is just bad public health policy.”

Morris said the province also needs to provide workers with paid sick leave to encourage them to stay home if they feel ill, so they don’t transmit COVID-19 to colleagues. He said the province should also focus on getting essential workers vaccinated, restricting regional travel and keeping the outdoors open for recreation. He believes non-essential businesses and places of worship should also be closed.

He said police shouldn’t be involved except for egregious flouting of public health measures, and that allowing police and bylaw officers to stop people will target the most vulnerable.

“Have them police indoor parties. Or non-essential workplaces,” said Morris.



Dr. Martha Fulford, infectious disease specialist and associate professor at McMaster University, said the province should be taking a more targeted approach, legislating paid sick leave and ensuring essential workers and people working in factories and plants are vaccinated.

She said the last thing the province should be closing is playgrounds, especially in light of the lack of evidence to support the idea that COVID can be spread outdoors.

“It feels to me extraordinary that a year into this, we’re incapable of having targeted interventions to try to decrease the risk of COVID and not cause even more harm to the fabric of our society, because of course COVID isn’t the only thing we’re dealing with anymore — we’re dealing with mental health, we’re dealing with despair, we’re dealing with broken lives, we’re dealing with overdoses, we’re dealing with domestic abuse, we’re dealing with child abuse,” said Fulford, who has been critical of school closures because of the damage they do to children.

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Researchers discover a genetic link between anxiety and depression

Anecdotally, many people can attest to the way anxiety and depression often come together. But, now, a new study has discovered more than 500 genes that link the conditions together, in research that gives hope for future treatment

According to the World Health Organisation, 4.4% of the global population lives with depression, and 3.6% with anxiety. Often experienced together, anxiety and depression can feel like an unrelenting cycle. One may trigger the other, trapping us in spirals that can be difficult to escape.

Now, a new study from researchers at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Insitute in Australia has verified these experiences by identifying 509 genes that influence both anxiety and depression – confirming the link between the two mental health conditions.

Using genomic data from more than 400,000 participants in the UK Biobank, the team replicated and validated the genetic results in a group of 1.9 million people who had self-reported whether they had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

In total, the team found 674 genes associated with either depression or anxiety, noting how three-quarters of those genes were shared. Additionally, they identified 71 regions of the human genome that were not previously associated with anxiety – up from the six regions that had been previously recognised – as well as 29 new regions associated with depression.

Published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, researchers believe that these findings could pave the way to a better understanding of these mental health conditions, and how to treat them.

“Not a lot has been known, until now, about the genetic causes of why people may suffer from depression and anxiety. Both disorders are highly comorbid conditions, with about three-quarters of people with an anxiety disorder also exhibiting symptoms of major depressive disorder,” Professor Eske Derks, senior researcher and head of QIMR Berghofer’s Translational Neurgeomics Group, said.

“It’s been observed in the past that people who have both depression and anxiety have more severe symptoms, have the illnesses for longer and are more resistant to treatments. We hope this study will help identify existing drugs that might be re-purposed to better target the genetic basis of depression and anxiety.”

This research is accompanied by news that researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine have found a biological basis for mood disorders, and have developed a blood test for depression and bipolar disorder – marking another step toward understanding the biological basis of mental health.

“Our research provides new insights into the genetic architecture of depression and anxiety and the genes that link them,” says Professor Derks.

“The better our understanding of the genetic basis of these psychiatric conditions, the more likely we are to be able to treat them.”

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Queensland Health to audit COVID masks and PPE after nurses union takes industrial action

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) took Queensland Health to the state’s industrial relations commission yesterday, over concerns that stemmed from three nurses and a doctor being infected with COVID-19 at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Queensland Health’s high priority hospital and health services, including Metro North, Metro South, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Torres and Cape York and Cairns must be audited by April 19.

The state’s remaining hospital and health services will need to be audited by April 22.

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) also recommended that if deficiencies were found, an action plan to fix them would need to be provided.

Queensland Health is due to report at a second conference on April 27.

In a statement, QNMU secretary Beth Mohle said she welcomed the commission’s assistance and looked forward to progress being made.

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Q&A: Health management app the platform for a healthier future

This week we chat with Maree Beare, founder and CEO of Wanngi, a health
management platform on which people can track and manage their symptoms, injuries,
medications, allergies, immunisations and fitness progress.

ISB: Why did you give up the “safety net” of a salaried
position to launch your own start-up?

MB: As a technologist I had a burning desire to use my skills to
advocate for consumers in accessing their health information. When someone
tells me “you can’t do it” (which happened a lot), it makes me want
to do it even more. I spent a decade delivering innovation projects for large
corporations and government agencies, and whilst they paid the bills, I
constantly felt there was something lacking and that I was born to do more. When
the idea of solving problems for social change came to me, I knew that was my
calling and I went for it.

ISB: And what was the inspiration behind tackling the healthtech sector
for this start-up venture?

MB: There is a lot of noise in the healthtech sector. And whilst the
healthcare system tries to be patient-centric, there is little advocacy for
consumers. I wanted to create one platform that made people with chronic health
issues feel safe and heard. When it comes to a patient’s entire medical
history, it can be stressful to remember everything, and for doctors to gather
everything they need to know. I created Wanngi as a central place for people to
track all their symptoms, health records, medication and treatment plans, so
they can improve their diagnosis and have more effective conversations with
their doctors.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise
off the ground?

MB: It’s disappointing that this is still something we have to address
in 2021, but being an ambitious woman in a male-dominated tech industry has
definitely been an ongoing challenge. As women, finding investment funding is
quite daunting. Due to a lack of knowledge about the healthtech sector amongst
Australian investors, scaling a company like Wanngi is hard locally. Adding the
fact that I’m a female certainly doesn’t help the situation. Crunchbase data highlights
this problem – female founders globally received only 2.3 per cent of the
funding available in 2020, a decrease from 2.8 per cent in 2019. It’s

frustrating that more often than not, when women entrepreneurs pitch to
investors (mostly men) questions focus on the risks rather than the
opportunities. It’s a shame because the healthtech sector is certainly a growth

ISB: Bearing in mind that there are other health management apps out
there, how do you ensure yours stands out from the crowd?

MB: We are in a world that is more connected than
ever before, with healthcare that is not connected. Consumers want to cut
through the noise for an authentic customer-first experience. Not only does Wanngi
help people track their health in one place, it also allows them to export
their entire medical history and share it with multiple doctors. As telehealth
has skyrocketed, an app like Wanngi is so relevant. It also lets users record
all immunisations – including COVID-19 vaccines – and store test results so medical
professionals have access to them as and when required.

ISB:What is your vision for the
development of the business in the next couple of years?

MB: We’re scaling our health management platforms
to provide a direct-to-consumer approach to provide efficiencies in the $47 billion
clinical trials market. Our mission is for Australia to become the hotspot for
conducting clinical trials globally, which will be achieved by enabling a fast
and efficient recruitment process for consumers to participate in clinical
trials. Pharma companies globally have been unable to conduct many clinical
trials in countries impacted by COVID. We are in a country where COVID is under
control, and yet people with chronic illness who are seeking help for their
illness are currently finding blocked pathways when searching for appropriate
clinical trials.

ISB: And, finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’d give to
women who aspire to launch their own start-up?

MB: Go for it. As women, only we know our struggle. We’ve all been there.
Surprisingly, sometimes it’s women who dissuade other women from following
their dreams, which is why it’s so important for us to be true to ourselves,
stay determined and – last but definitely not the least – girls in this
industry need to support each other.

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Woman who died after COVID-19 jab had serious health issues

The woman who died days after getting the COVID-19 vaccine received the AstraZeneca variety, 9News has confirmed.

The 48-year-old received the vaccine last Friday at her GP, after the doctor assessed that the risk value was worth her getting the jab.

She died at John Hunter Hospital yesterday after developing blood clots.

9News can confirm the woman was not a frontline health worker, but her medical issues put her in the 1B rollout category.

The woman, who was diabetic, had serious underlying health issues before receiving the vaccine.

Her cause of death, and any connection between it, the blood clots, and the vaccine, is yet to be determined, with health authorities currently investigating.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian this morning offered her sympathies to the woman’s family as she waits for advice from health authorities.

“In the meantime we just extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones during this difficult time,” she told Today.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has said it is seeking “further clinical information including clinical test results” from the NSW Health Department.

Ms Berejiklian said she believed the “vast majority” of citizens wanted to get a vaccine, despite the highly-publicised incidences of rare adverse reactions.

“It is important for us to be really well-advised,” she said.

“If anyone has concerns, you should ask your GP.”

She also called on the federal government to provide more doses to the states.

“(State governments) are ready to help provide the vaccine to our citizens,” she said.

“It wasn’t in the plans for the states to do more than what we are currently doing but I think it is important for us to step up and support the vaccine roll-out, but we can’t really get those supplies.

“That’s a matter for the Commonwealth to get the vaccines themselves and source those vaccines and once they are available to us we will make sure they are available to our citizens.”

The federal government has said it no longer recommended people under 50 get AstraZeneca vaccines.

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