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Health Initiatives

Indigenous Mental Health Commissioned Services

The HNECCPHN has contracted Indigenous Mental Health (IMH) providers to service the Hunter, New England, and Mid Coast regions.

There were seven IMH providers successful for these regions and the program has been split into two separate contracts.

The therapeutic group programs is a 12-week holistic group program encompassing activities such as weaving, art, music, fishing, on country days and other activities. These groups have an overall focus on mental health topics and strategies to support clients to self-manage their mental health whilst engaging in social interaction.

The Care Coordination, Peer Navigation and Suicide Postvention contract is based on a stepped care model, providing support to clients with severe and complex mental illness. The Care Coordinator is responsible for the clinical aspects of care including clinical care planning, physical health, and linkages to psychosocial counselling support this can only be accessed by GP referral.

Whilst the Peer navigator would provide one on one support to link and access mental health services, psychosocial supports, community and mainstream supports. The Peer Navigator will also provide practical support in accessing services and appointments as well providing information and support for family and carers.

The suicide postvention program is a targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander community program improving the response to and caring for those affected by suicide and suicide attempts by supporting family through community-based education program linkages to counselling and other support services, suicide safety planning, stigma reduction family education and support.

View details of the providers and programs in each region.

Referral pathways for these programs will be on HealthPathways or alternatively contact the providers through their website or via phone.

Hearing Assessment Program - Early Ears (HAPEE)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have high rates of otitis media (middle ear infection) and subsequent hearing loss. They suffer an average of 32 months of hearing loss in childhood, compared with three months for non-Indigenous children.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with undiagnosed hearing loss are disadvantaged at school with delayed auditory, cognitive and psychosocial development.

The PHN is partnering with Hearing Australia to provide opportunities for general practices to provide their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with to access diagnostic hearing assessments.

Learn more about HAPEE
What if your practice already does hearing assessments?

Audiometrists are only qualified to do assessments on patients 4yrs and above. This means your 0–3-year-old patients are not being assessed for early intervention.

What is the benefit for your practice?

This program provides qualified Audiologists who can conduct hearing assessments from birth for your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Who is eligible?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the years before primary school.

Where will it happen?

Assessments can be arranged to take place in a quiet room in your practice or at a location that is mutually agreeable with your patients and the program. For example, a Library.

What will it cost?

There is no cost to patients or practices to hold a clinic. There is no cost to the patients if referred into the program for ongoing treatment and devices.

When will the clinics take place?

We can liaise with your practice to organise a mutually agreeable time to conduct a clinic. Clinic days can be flexible depending on the number of assessments required. For example, 1-2 days a month.

What tests are provided?

The four tests in the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAP-EE)

  1. Otoscopy
  2. Play Audiometry - age appropriate
  3. OAE
  4. Tympanometry
What ongoing treatment is provided?

If the child needs ongoing hearing care through the means of devices, assessments etc then they get referred into the funded Hearing Australia CSO/ Outreach pathway as a paediatric client. They remain a paediatric client until they turn 26 years of age.

If it is recommended the child sees an ENT, the Audiologist will write a report for the GP which advises this. Hearing Australia will also fit hearing aids if needed and provide ongoing support.

What next?

Please contact Sherilee McManus to discuss further details on organising a clinic for your practice.

MBS 715 Health Check

The 715 Health Check is designed to support the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations people of all ages. The aim of the 715 Health Check is to help ensure that First Nations people receive primary health care matched to their needs, by encouraging early detection, diagnosis and intervention for common and treatable conditions that cause morbidity and early mortality.

A health assessment should generally be undertaken by the patient's 'usual doctor'. For the purpose of the health assessment, "usual doctor" means the general practitioner, or a general practitioner working in the medical practice, which has provided the majority of primary health care to the patient over the previous twelve months and/or will be providing the majority of care to the patient over the next twelve months.

The Health Assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People is not available to people who are in-patients of a hospital or care recipients in a residential aged care facility.

Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program

The CTG PBS Co-payment program was established in July 2010 to improve access to affordable PBS medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of, chronic disease, and who in their doctor’s opinion would experience setbacks in the prevention or ongoing management of chronic disease if they did not take the prescribed medicine and would be unlikely to adhere to their medicines regimen without assistance through the program.

When obtaining PBS General Schedule medicines at their local pharmacy, eligible general patients who would normally pay the full PBS co-payment will pay the concessional rate and those eligible patients who would normally pay the concessional rate receive their PBS medicines without being required to pay a PBS co‑payment.

Complementing this Program and recognising that there may not be pharmacies available to dispense in some remote areas, the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) Program allows clients of approved RAAHS to receive medicines from their RAAHS, without the need for a normal PBS prescription form, and without charge. For more information, please visit the Services Australia or the Department of Health and Aged Care

COVID-19 Information for First Nations Communities

The HNECC PHN recognises the health risks and challenges of COVID-19 for First Nations Communities across our region. The PHN has developed resources to assist First Nations people to access reliable information about the COVID-19 vaccines, and to identify health services to manage and treat COVID-19 related illness.

The PHN's First Nations Health Access team has also developed several unique resources for Primary Care Providers including General Practitioners, Aboriginal Medical Services, Pharmacies and Integrated Team Care providers; and First Nations community members. These include:

  • First Nations SMS Messages have been developed for Primary Care providers to promote direct access to credible COVID-19 vaccine information and support. The culturally sensitive messages can be sent to First Nations patients to assist decision making and reduce the confusion created by many social media messages.
  • VAX FAX WITH DANE SIMPSON is a series of short yarns featuring Dane Simpson and our local experts busting some myths and getting the facts about COVID-19.

More general information and the latest updates about COVID-19 are available from the PHN web page Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Latest Information.

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