Red Ribbon Revisited

Red Ribbon Revisited

It’s the Return of the Red Ribbon!

Excited to announce we’re the lucky recipients of a NSW Health + South Eastern Sydney Local Health District grant to raise HIV awareness for World AIDS Day 2015 #WAD2015.

The Red Ribbon took on celebrity status in Sydney back in 2012 as we toured festivals and events raising HIV awareness. Everyone from ministers to mayors, neurologists to nurses, actors, artists and activists proudly wore the Ribbon.

Check out our gorgeous gallery!


We were privileged to meet these incredible people in 2012 and we can’t wait to get started this year!  We’ll be focusing on the South Eastern Sydney district this year: Kogarah, Rockdale, St.George, Hurstville and Sutherland.

To get involved go to our Facebook page to see where we’ll be heading between 28 November 28 and 2 December. Come and get wrapped in the Ribbon!


Follow us on Twitter @RedRibbonsHIV


and check out our Pinterest posts for your Red Ribbon photos.RedRibbons5

Looking forward to seeing you all soon for #WAD2015


How can I help raise HIV Awareness this World AIDS Day? 

Friend Red Ribbons on Facebook

Follow the Red Ribbon on Twitter @RedRibbonsHIV

Test More, Treat Early, Prevent equals Ending HIV WAD logosmall





On the right track with early HIV treatment

On the right track with early HIV treatment

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has welcomed news of the early results of a major international study that found that early treatment halved the risk of people with HIV developing a range of serious illnesses.


The Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) study looked at the risks and benefits of early versus delayed antiretroviral treatment. The study has been wound up ahead of time due to the conclusive findings. These results offer further support to Australia’s efforts to increase treatment uptake among all people with HIV. Evidence has existed for several years that HIV treatments dramatically reduce the infectiousness of people with HIV. The START study now indicates there is a clear benefit to individual health, even among people with high CD4 counts.

Clear Support for Initiating Early Treatment

AFAO Executive Director Rob Lake said it was great news, offering strong evidence to support what many health professionals have believed for some time. “We’ve thought for some time early treatment – rather than waiting – was beneficial,” Rob Lake said. “For health professionals, these results offer clear support for initiating treatment as soon as patients are ready. For people with HIV, who may be delaying treatment until their CD4 count starts to fall or who may be apprehensive for other reasons, these results should offer confidence that starting now is the best decision for long-term health,” said Rob Lake.

Australia is considered to have fairly high rate of antiretroviral treatment uptake among people living with HIV, thanks to the strong community support and education and the PBS scheme which subsidises the costs of medications. “In a country like Australia with a strong health system and PBS, the study results are great news because people with HIV can take advantage of the medicines straight away.”

AFAO said the study’s results would strengthen the fight for treatment in countries where access is poor. Globally only about 40% of people with HIV are able to access HIV treatments.


Join our coverage of the World STI Congress together with the Australian HIV & AIDS Conference from 13 - 18 September 2015

#WorldSTI2015  www.worldsti2015.com

#AUSHIVAIDS2015  www.hivaidsconference.com.au





Recognising Distress

Recognising Distress

Keep Calm & Recognise Distress (Part 2)

(Read Part 1: Keep Calm & Carry On)

How do you recognise distress? It might sound ridiculous. Of course doctors can recognise distress. After all, doctors are trained to recognise symptoms, diagnose and treat, right?  The number of Australians seeking help from GPs for mental health issues is higher than ever with over 16 million GP appointments for mental health-related issues during the 2013-14 financial year. That accounts for 12.3% of all GP encounters. Clearly doctors are trusted when it comes to managing other people’s distress4

But being adept at recognising symptoms of distress in others doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to recognise them in yourself. In clinical situations, objectivity allows medical professionals to observe distressed behaviour in their patients and elicit information to develop health care plans, refer for counselling and manage ongoing treatment.  It is much harder to observe this behaviour in yourself, especially when you are the professional on whom so many of your patients depend. For doctors and medical students, barriers to seeking professional help for mental health issues include;1

  • Fear of a lack of confidentiality or privacy within their profession
  • Embarrassment or shame
  • Concern about the impact on registration and right to practice
  • Preference to rely on self rather than seek help
  • Lack of time
  • Concerns about career development or progress

Consider this case, from an article in the Medical Journal of Australia, presenting a typical example of the barriers many doctors experience in the face of untenable stress.

‘Over the last 6 months you’ve noticed that you have become increasingly anxious. You find yourself constantly worrying about everyday events that never used to bother you. You are having difficulty sleeping and often wake up during the night. Having a few drinks seems to help you relax. Although your general health is quite good you are experiencing a lot of muscle tension and headaches. You’re also confident in managing this condition with your patients and feel that you could manage it for yourself. You know a competent doctor you could see whom you’re comfortable would be understanding of you, but you are unsure whether you can trust them to maintain your confidentiality. Your practice is so busy it would be hard to find the time.’2

Does this sound familiar? Here, workload, time constraints and confidentiality are concerns and the tendency might be to avoid broaching the subject with another doctor and hope the problem just goes away.


As a doctor, you know that avoidance is not a workable option. Your mental health is just as important as everyone else’s and you have the right to access help without your reputation being at stake. You need to care for yourself before you can adequately care for others. And here’s some good news in the midst of all this distress. According to the 2013 beyondblue survey, doctors appear to have a greater degree of resilience to the negative impacts of poor mental health.1 But getting a baseline on your stress levels is important so you can assess how well you are managing at work and at home.

Assess your stress

Try taking this quick Professional Quality of Life survey to see how you’re tracking with stress at work. The PQoL assesses the satisfaction you derive from your work, your tendency to burnout and your response to extreme or stressful events. It’s an interesting exercise even if you’re feeling you have little or no stress at work.  You might be surprised with the results.


Of course, getting a baseline is just the first step. Professional help and advice are within easy reach, much easier now that work-related stress levels have been identified as an issue across most professions and workplaces in Australia.3 The Australasian Doctor’s Health Network is a great place to start. You can get immediate help, via state-based call centres, with issues around work stress, burnout and anxiety as well as bullying and harassment.  We recommend you seek help from a medical professional if you are feeling burnt out, distressed, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. It’s OK. You can keep calm and carry on, you might just need some help.



  1. National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students October 2013 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/research-project-files/bl1132-report—nmhdmss-full-report_web
  2. Davidson SK, Schattner PL. Doctors’ health-seeking behaviour: a questionnaire survey. Med J Aust 2003;179(6):302-5. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2003/179/6/doctors-health-seeking-behaviour-questionnaire-survey
  3. Commomwealth of Australia. Working Well: An organisational approach to psychological injury. http://www.comcare.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/41369/PUB_47_Working_well.pdf
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Mental Health Services: in brief 2014.


  1. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2003/179/6/doctors-health-seeking-behaviour-questionnaire-survey





5 Tips to a Great Reference

5 Tips to a Great Reference

5 Tips to a Great Reference

Whether you’re recently graduated or planning a career move, the people you choose as your referees could make or break your job-seeking prospects. If you want a glowing reference of your skills, experience and teamwork, you need to prepare so we’ve put together our 5 top tips to a great reference.

  1. Keep it Professional

When choosing a professional reference, be strategic. Consider a person who knows your work and who is aware of your unique skill set. Ask yourself: who teamed up on your final research project? Who has worked alongside you in a crisis situation? What about your medical supervisor? Think of a broad range of professional or academic colleagues who understand you and your work ethic.

  1. Ask First

Once you have a few referees in mind, ask their permission first. This is best done over the phone or via email. Healthcare professionals are busy people. Be polite and ask them if there is a good time to call so you can discuss the position you’re applying for. You could also provide any prospective employers the details of your referees’ preferred contact times to everyone’s lives easier.

  1. Provide Your CV

Even though your chosen referees may be well aware of your abilities, give them the opportunity to speak about these skills in the context of the position. Provide them with a copy of your CV and the position description. You may even want to highlight the specific skills and experience on your CV for easy access when they’re providing a reference over the phone. Each time you submit an application advise your referees of the timeframe during which they may expect a call from a prospective employer.

  1. Check out Referral Rewards

HealthcareLink recently launched an exciting new feature, where your colleagues can recommend you for a job via the HealthcareLink website. It’s a clever incentive for health professionals to increase their network, refer their colleagues and even recommend positions to their peers as they become available.

  1. Say Thanks

Whether you land the job or not, send your referees a note of thanks. Thanking your referees is not only polite, it’s sure to bode well for the next round of applications. Remember, a little gratitude goes a long way, especially when it comes to a good job reference.


Follow @HealthcareLink on Twitter

Find out more about the Peer-to-Peer Referral System on the HealthcareLink Blog 



I’m Sorry, What Was That You Said?

I’m Sorry, What Was That You Said?

It’s Hearing Awareness Week 23-29 August, 2015 and there are events, screening clinics and information sessions across the country. Take a look at  www.healthawarenessweek.org.au here for local event info.


While exploring the canals of hearing loss, we found these two infographics about Noise and Evolution of the Hearing Aid and we’d like to share them.



How Loud is Too Loud? An infographic from Safety Culture

Embedded from Safety Culture

Like this infographic?-  Jump over to Evolution of the Hearing Aid 


Clinical Supervison Integral to Nursing

Clinical Supervison Integral to Nursing

Compassion comes at a cost

Mental health nurses are at the frontline of any mental health engagement. So, it’s an odd kind of disconnect when counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists engage in compulsory regular debriefing sessions during their training yet a similar model is yet to be mandated for mental health nurses - the very people who are expected to respond to the mental health needs of their patients from shift to shift.1


e-GPS on a Mission

e-GPS on a Mission

Resilience. It’s a peculiar trait we humans have. Even when things get tough, we don’t give up. We may flounder momentarily, but to give up, chuck it in, give it the flick, wash our hands of it, drop it like a hot potato, buckle under or throw in the towel just isn’t part of the game plan. We may feel as if we’ve given up relinquished control, capitualted, rolled over and played dead. And that’s OK. They’re part of the human experience, these little deaths - in fact la petit mort is the French expression for orgasm - so bring those little deaths on!

Running a small business is reflective of life and growth. Excitement at an idea’s birth. Joy and hope for the future. First steps, falling down, getting back up. Falling down again. Letting go, moving forward, making connections. Working hard, slacking off. Getting the contract, getting knocked back. Gaining clients and losing them.

It takes resilience and fortitude to run a small business. It takes failure to reach goals. It takes blood, sweat and tears. But here we are. Still at it. Resilient and ready to relaunch.

So we decided to lay our business plan on the table and go through it with a fine tooth comb. We found weakness - loads of them. We decided what should stay and what should go. We pared right back while reflecting on our original vision of creative, innovative health promotion.  And now we’re back on track. We know our strengths and we understand what we need to work on. We have analysed the gaps in our skill levels and have taken steps to improve and strengthen what we can offer our clients.

If you haven’t picked apart your business model and developed a strong Mission Statement that reflects your values as a company, we strongly suggest you do. It’s an opportunity to drill down through the froth and bubble to the sludge at the bottom of your coffee cup. As we’ve found these last three years, the sludge is where you develop a greater understanding and where new concepts are born. Down times are reflective times. They provide clarity, a chance to experience a little death, then wake up and move on. They make life that much more precious.

e-GPS is all about ecoloGical Project Solutions and always has been.  For three and a half years, we’ve been on a mission to deliver health awareness messages in creative, inspiring ways that embrace the ecological health promotion model, it’s just that we had never articulated it before. So here it is. the e-GPS Mission Statement. And here’s to more life and death experiences in the challenging world of small business.

Our Mission: To implement health awareness projects for diverse communities, and the people who live and work within them. To enable access to clear, consistent health information that is culturally appropriate, socially inclusive and environmentally driven.




Becoming more Gay Friendly in your Practice

Becoming more Gay Friendly in your Practice

GPs and practice nurses seeking to become more ‘gay friendly’ in their practice now have the option to complete a short online learning module Becoming More Gay Friendly in your Practice. Developed by the STIs in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA), the OLM guides GPs on the diverse health needs of gay and homosexually active men. In particular, sexual health screening, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV testing, as well as psycho-social issues commonly experienced by gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM).

Dr Chris Bourne, Head, NSW STI Programs Unit and Senior Staff Specialist, Sydney SexualHealth Centre, said gay or homosexually active men in Australia are disproportionately affected by STIs, including HIV, and most diagnoses in Australia are made by GPs. “It is important for everyone to feel comfortable when visiting a GP. For gay or homosexuall yactive men, GPs play an important role in helping them assess their sexual health risk and providing opportunities to test for STIs and HIV,” he said. “The OLM aims to help GPs deliver care which is inclusive of gay or homosexually active men; where they feel safe and free from discrimination and can be offered current professional health advice.”

Dr David Baker, a GP at East Sydney Doctors, says the OLM training highlights the diverse health needs of gay and homosexually active men, which encompass primary health care,current trends in sexual health, understanding of gay culture and its diversity. “As a GP, it’s important to become confident in identifying common health issues faced by gay men and men who have sex with men, particularly when it comes to their sexual health,” Dr Baker said. “The STIGMA OLM is an excellent resource for GPs who want to know more about being ‘gay friendly’ in their clinical practice and how to address and work with health issues specific to this population. The knowledge gained from the OLM enables GPs to have a more informed perspective and to to open up a discussion about STI risk, STI testing, drug and alcohol use and mental health.’’

Becoming More Gay Friendly in your Practice was developed by STIGMA, following its development of a ‘Gay Friendly GP List’ for NSW, to support access to the primary health care of gay men and MSM. The OLM is structured in three interactive case-based modules. The modules include: towards a better understanding of gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM), discussing sexual history and testing for STIs, and common health issues facing gay men and MSM. The OLM can be completed over one hour or 20 minutes for each module.

GPs and practice nurses can access the OLM by going to the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) Learning Management System https://lms.ashm.org.au/ registering or logging on, then clicking on the Catalogue tab.

GPs who complete the OLM in full can accrue two Cat.2 RACGP QI&CPD points.