All Posts tagged Australia

What is a Standard Drink?

What is a Standard Drink?

How do you measure a Standard Drink- this infographic shows the actual alcohol content in a std drink

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have released an infographic about the number of standard drinks in any one alcoholic beverage. Based on the National Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol (2009) the plain facts may surprise some people.

Read the NHMRC FAQs here for more information on risks associated with alcohol consumption and find out whether there is such a thing as safe drinking levels.


Follow NHMRC on Twitter



Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia @DANAnews1

Australian Drug Foundation @AustDrug



What You Should Know About Sun Damage

What You Should Know About Sun Damage

Gotta love Summer for its bright, sparkling days, warm nights, beachtime and bare skin. But what about the harmful effect of the sun?

What is sun damage?

Sun damage is what happens to your skin when it is exposed to the sun over a prolonged period of time. In Australia, sun damage is common1 and presents itself through a variety of different symptoms.2

How does sun damage occur?

Sun damage can occur when your skin has been exposed to the sun over a prolonged period of time.2 While spending as little as 15 minutes in the Australian sun can cause sunburn,3 sun damage is cumulative and can take years to appear as visible symptoms.2, 3 This means that any sun burn or sun exposure experienced when you were a child or teenager may not appear as visible sun damage until you are well into middle and even older age.

How does sun damage appear?

The effects of sun damage on your skin and overall wellbeing can vary depending on the level of sun exposure you have had, your skin type, your age and a variety of other factors. Sun damage may appear as cosmetic change on your skin, such as a wrinkle or discolouration or as a textural change where an area of your skin begins to feel, rough, scaly or hardened.2,4 Sun damage can also progress as a much more serious condition, like skin cancer.3

It is important to understand that sun damage may not be seen on your skin until many years after the initial sun exposure has occurred.2,3 As a result, it is important that you get to know your own skin so you can learn to identify possible areas of sun damage and bring them to the attention of your doctor as early as possible.

What are sun spots?

Solar keratoses, or sun spots as they are more commonly known, are skin lesions that develop as a result of exposure to the sun’s UV rays.2,6

Sunspots can vary in size – from as small as a few millimetres up to two centimetres across – and may be scaly, rough or wart like in their appearance.2,6 The colour of sun spots varies, from a barely noticeable darkening in skin colour to a more obvious red colour.2,6 They are common on areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun, particularly on the nose, cheeks, upper lip, temple, ears, forehead, neck and hands.2,6

In Australia, sunspots are particularly common in fair-skinned people and in those who have spent long periods of time outdoors without protecting their skin.2,6 Sunspots can develop into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).6 In patients with more than 10 sunspots, there is a 10-15 per cent chance of the patient developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).6 As a result, sun spots are generally treated for health reasons.6 People with sunspots should get them examined by a doctor on a regular basis.6

Will using sunscreen protect me from sun damage?

It is important to protect yourself from the sun as much as possible. This can be achieved by using a high factor (30+) sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and seeking shade.5 While using sunscreen will allow you to stay in the sun longer without getting burned, long-term exposure to the sun still causes sun damage, which may lead to skin cancer if not monitored and managed.2,6 It is not known which areas of sun damage will turn into skin cancer so it is important to check all sun spots regularly for any changes and talk to your GP if you notice any changes.6, 7

Who should I speak to if I suspect I have sun damage?

Your GP is the best person to talk to since he/she can look to see if you have sun damage. There are effective treatments that can be used. Your practice nurse or local pharmacist may also be able to provide advice. If you have several sunspots or your GP suspects you have skin cancer, you may be referred to a dermatologist for further investigation and treatment.

What is the Know Your Own Skin campaign?

Know Your Own Skin is a health education campaign designed to help raise awareness of the long-term consequences of repeated sun exposure and the need to identify sun damage early. The campaign encourages Australians to start thinking about past sun damage and the impact it may have on their skin now or in the future, and to speak to their GP if they notice anything unusual.

How is this any different to other skin cancer and sun protection campaigns?

Slip Slap Slop the Cancer Council Australia’s campaign has been highly successful over the past 30 years in raising awareness of the need to protect skin from the sun, with a particular focus on children and teenagers. However, as many people over the age of 40 lived in the pre-Slip Slap Slop era, enjoying time in the strong Australian sunshine with minimal protection, the damage to their skin has already been done.

Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer before the age of 70.8 Yet despite this, recent research revealed only three in ten Australians over the age of 40 get annual skin checks.9 This suggests there may be a large awareness ‘gap’ around the long-term effects of sun burn/exposure. Know Your Own Skin is a health education campaign that addresses this awareness ‘gap’. It has been designed to help raise awareness of the long-term consequences of repeated sun exposure and highlights to Australians the need to identify sun damage early.

Further Information



Download the Know Your Own Skin App


1. Quaedvlieg et al 2006. 2. 3. 4. 5. Welsh 2004. 6. 7. Feldman SR et al. Progression of Actinic Keratosis to Squamous Cell Carcinoma Revisited: Clinical Implications. CUTIS 2011; 87: 201-207. 8. 9. Kantar Health 2010.

This blog post has been adapted from Know Your Own Skin Media Centre


Who are the Hidden Homeless?

Who are the Hidden Homeless?

On any given night in Australia 1 in 200 people are homeless. There are currently 105,237 people who are homeless in this country, that’s 49 out of every 100,00 people or 0.5% of the population.  For the record, homeless people may not just be those who are sleeping rough on the street or in parks, they might move between temporary shelter; couch surfing, emergency accommodation, refuges and hostels, or they might live in boarding houses without their own bathroom or kitchen and without security of tenure.1

According to the 2011 ABS Census of Population and Housing, 94% of people who are experiencing homelessness are not on the streets. Homelessness Australia identifies four key groups who are often overlooked and undercounted when it comes to adding up the total homeless population:

  • Women and children homeless because of domestic and family violence
  • The old and young staying with other households
  • People in housing crisis
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups1

There are three additional groups who form part of the ‘hidden homeless’ in Australia. If you feel we’ve overlooked any vulnerable groups who are at risk of homelessness, please let us know by leaving your comments below.


Homelessness and housing stress is regularly raised as a concern for refugee and humanitarian entrants in the early stages of settlement in Australia. According to a 2009 survey 78% of asylum seekers on the Asylum Seekers Assistance Scheme (ASAS) in Victoria met the government definition of homelessness.2

The majority of asylum seekers in Australia live lawfully in the community on bridging visas while they wait for their asylum claims to be resolved. More than half of these asylum seekers have no access to a financial safety net.3 Many have no form of family or community support and many move constantly in and out of homelessness. Refugees and asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to homelessness due to language, literacy and cultural barriers, difficulty accessing services and very often being discouraged by their own communities from relying on ‘welfare’ or ‘handouts’.

People Living with a Disability

People living with a disability are vulnerable to homelessness and housing stress due to relatively low incomes, limited engagement with the labour market and limited housing options. Different disabilities - including physical, sensory and intellectual disability -  predispose individuals to different levels of homelessness risk. Accessing appropriate housing is a significant issue for people living with disability and many have long residential histories of poor quality, unsafe, unaffordable and insecure housing. For many, their housing situation contributes to ongoing stress and detrimental affects on their health Informal networks of family and friends can provide emotional support, community connection and practical assistance however, many  people living with a disability lack this support. 5

People Living with Mental Illness

Living with a mental illness is a major risk factor for homelessness. The link between economic and social disadvantage, mental illness and homelessness is clear. People with mental illness can become homeless when their symptoms worsen or when they temporarily leave home because they require in-patient treatment. Other people might experience homelessness when they become unwell and their relationships breakdown or if they become estranged from their family or support network. Young people must be a key target group of youth homelessness and mental health coordination. 75% of people with mental illness first exhibit symptoms under the age of 25 and 50% of homelessness service users in 2011 were under 25 years old.6

Whatever the reason for homelessness or housing stress, there is an urgent and pressing need for increased flexible affordable and secure housing opportunities. People who are living with mental illness or disability, experiencing domestic violence, or awaiting resolution of their refugee status need access to affordable housing in Australia.

Key Points

  • Homelessness includes rough sleeping as well as people staying in temporary, unstable or substandard accommodation.
  • Homelessness can affect anyone.
  • Rising number of children, families and older people are experiencing homelessness
  • Indigenous people are overrepresented in the homeless population. Overcrowding is common in Indigenous housing.
  • The ‘hidden homeless’ include refugees and asylum seekers, people living with a disability and people living with mental illness.



Housing Australia Fact Sheet 2013 prepared by Shelter NSW

Addressing homelessness amongst persons with a disability. September 2011

Anywhere but a bed


Anywhere but a Bed A Facebook awareness raising event


Shelter National Advocacy site for Homelessness

The Footpath Library

The Road Home – Australian Government White Paper on Homelessness








1. Homelessness Australia website

2. Foyster, G. 13 August 2010

3. Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Annual Report 2008–09.

4. Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project August 2010

5. Addressing homelessness amongst persons with a disability Evidence note no. 13

6. Homing in on the real issues of homelessness. Homelessness Australia factsheet


Photos sourced from Flickr: Davco9200 and sensesmaybenumbed




Remote Area Health

Remote Area Health

The Digital Productivity Conference, held in June 2013, highlighted the amazing inroads Australia has made in digital technology and health. To complement this exciting growth in the digital productivity sector, we thought it time to revisit mHealth technology and how Australia is tracking with the NBN.