About 70 mental health clinicians and their supporters rallied outside the state government’s offices in Hobart on October 11 to call for the reversal of crippling budget cuts. The rally took place during Mental Health Week. Unions say 42.5 frontline mental health positions have been lost or left vacant due to last year’s budget cuts. Most of these are frontline clinical positions, including case managers from the adult, child and youth and older person’s mental health community teams. Services are also compromised as clinicians are frequently not replaced when they take leave.
The Australian subsidiaries of tobacco giants Philip Morris and British Tobacco lost their final court challenge on August 16 against the Australian government’s proposed legislation that mandates all tobacco products be packaged in plain packaging. The only distinguishing features on packs will be the brand names, which will be in a standard font and size.
The article below first appeared on The Conversation on August 30. Angela Taft is an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University. She is the co-ordinator for Women's Health Special Interest Group at the Public Health Association of Australia, which has lobbied for the importation of RU486 for several years. ***
Resident group activists in Malaysia who have been campaigning to stop an Australian corporation, Lynas, from building a highly toxic rare earth refinery near Kuantan, Pahang, celebrated a little victory after Justice Mariana Yahya of the Kuantan High Court agreed on August 28 to hear their application for two judicial reviews.
The Coal Terminal Action Group this week launched a community-led dust and health study, following the application by Port Waratah Coal Services to construct yet another coal terminal in Newcastle (T4). For many years, communities living around the port, along the coal train lines and near the mines have been calling for the NSW government to do the research to find out what health impacts all the coal dust and diesel emissions are having on them.
More than 500 people attended a public meeting at the Bulli Masonic Hall in the northern suburbs of Wollongong on July 29 to save the Bulli Hospital Emergency Department (ED). A PA had to be set up outside the packed hall so hundreds of people gathered outside could listen in. Residents are opposed to the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District's (ISLHD) proposal to downgrade the ED to an “urgent care centre”.
Operation Miracle, a humanitarian social program created by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, has made it possible to carry out over 1 million eye surgeries in the South American nation over the last eight years, the Cuban News Agency said. “We’re operating some 5000 patients a week, the same amount of patients who benefited annually in Venezuela before the beginning of the program,” said national coordinator Manuel Pacheco, cited by the Venezuelan News Agency. Operation Miracle began in July 2004, taking care of patients with few economic resources who had eye problems.
In a split decision the United States Supreme Court largely upheld the health insurance law, the Affordable Health Care Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. The key provision upheld by the nine robed reactionaries in a five-to-four split decision mandated that all US citizens have to buy health insurance from the private insurance companies beginning in 2014, or pay a penalty. This approach was originally proposed decades ago by right- wing think tanks as an alternative to national health insurance for all.