It was really hard for Sharon* to reach out for help.
For a while now her sleep had been terrible, and each morning she woke up feeling tired and thinking that her life was pointless. She felt alone, scared and full of self-doubt. Sharon had very little motivation and her head was filled with thoughts of failure. Her GP thought it would be a good idea to see a psychologist, so she called the number and made an appointment.
There was no quick fix. Sharon hadn’t told her GP, but as a child she had been subjected to repeated sexual abuse. It wasn’t something she could share at first because she didn’t feel safe trusting anyone with this. For the first few months she just told the psychologist what they wanted to hear.
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Whitlam was a radical, according to the Institute of Public Affairs. A very successful radical, and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott could learn from him.
The IPA has released an extraordinary pamphlet: Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia.
You could even say it’s radical.
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When it comes to infant male circumcision there’s been an astonishing change in Australia over the past 30 years.
While nearly half of the adult male population has been circumcised, today as few as 10 to 20 per cent of newborn baby boys get it done. We’ve given the snip, the snip, and the scalpel of old is collecting dust.
In fact, the federal government is even reviewing whether the procedure should still qualify for Medicare benefits. Leading medical authorities don’t believe there’s a substantial medical justification for it.
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Given the bitterness of political exchange, Julia Gillard may be excused for crowing, for basking in the warm light of an all-too-rare win.
Even before clearing the final hurdle of a Senate vote next month - where the numbers are assured - yesterday’s House of Representatives victory on the carbon tax bills is being hailed as “historic”.
It is a very deliberate term crafted to dove-tail with the embattled PM’s view that through his frothing opposition to the package, Tony Abbott has over-reached and will find it was he who ended up “on the wrong side of history”.
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Our government has been trying to ensure that the generous rebate to millions of Australians who take out private health insurance remains in place, and remains sustainable into the future.
To do this, we’ve tried to introduce a means test that stops support for a family earning more than a quarter of a millions dollars - but retains it for nearly 8 million low and middle income Australians, with a scale down for those in between.
Our last changes were met with predictions from the Liberals and insurers that the sky would fall in and that millions would drop out of insurance.
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I recently took myself to a medical clinic that bulk-billed. I didn’t go there because they bulk-billed. I went because the clinic was walking distance from my office building. I needed to get tested for Helicobacter pylori. Here’s what happened:
GP: You can take the test home, do it yourself and bring it back to be sent to the lab. (No further instructions so I leave and I attempt to pick up the test from reception.)
Medical Receptionist: No, you do the test here, but after two hours of fasting, water is allowed.
(I return after two hours of fasting, having drunk a glass of water during that time.)
Centre Manager: Actually you need to have fasted for 6 hours, nil water, but it should be OK.
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Structural reform of Australian healthcare financing can cut inequity and promote universal choice as well as universal service delivery.
In a society as wealthy as ours it’s understandable that Australians support universal access to healthcare.
But accepting this principle and the current one-size-fits-all structure of Medicare are different. Under the current structure only those who can voluntarily afford to opt out of the system have real choice.
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The Federal Australian Medical Association opposes the Government’s Medicare Locals as currently proposed.
There is little detail on structure or funding. There is no explanation of patient benefit. There is plenty of uncertainty.
Medicare Locals are supposed to be a major plank of the Government’s health reforms. It is a weak and wobbly plank.
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When the Prime Minister was under the gun for her ‘gushing’ speech to the US Congress on Q&A on Monday night, she said that Australians and Americans were very different kinds of people. The former believed in the ‘fair go’, whereas the later were individualistic and distrusted government.
To illustrate her point, she reached into the standard playbook of the Left and pointed to the different attitudes that prevail in each country regarding health care.
According to the PM, when Australians look at the debate that has raged in the US over ‘Obamacare’, they wonder what on earth Americans are going on about. Because here in this country, we know that ‘Medicare works’.
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A Medicare credit card could make healthcare co-payments simpler and more affordable, writes Jennifer Doggett.
If you’ve ever been sick – really sick - in this country, you know that paying your medical bills isn’t cheap.
It’s also complex. Health insurance seldom covers the full cost of a procedure, so patients often leave hospital with a big bill waiting for them. Some of it can be claimed back on Medicare; some of it can’t. As well as being expensive, medical expenses are difficult to understand and a huge waste of time and effort. And all when you’re supposed to be resting and recuperating!
Our current system of health funding is failing. We spend more on health services every year and still many Australians miss out on the care they need.
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For the very first time I find myself agreeing with Tony Abbott. Not because of his views on climate change, and definitely not because of his views on homosexuality, but simply because he expressed reservations about introducing an e-Health records system.
The national e-Health records system is due to be rolled out in 2012, and would allow health providers to access patient summaries that include conditions, medications, test results allergies, and vaccinations as well as an indexed summary of specific health events and the related practitioner.
One of the obvious benefits of this system is that it will potentially promote consistent care across jurisdictions. But when it comes to the kind of sensitive information exchanged during psychological treatment, this level of transparency is equally undesirable.
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Faced with the debate over President Obama’s project to overhaul American health care, I’m finding it difficult to maintain the impartiality required of an ABC Current Affairs presenter.
I’ve had rather a lot of care from what the Americans call “socialised medicine”, here and in the UK – in fact without it, I’d be dead several times over – and some of the things that have been said against it strike me as plain ridiculous.
We’ll come to my own experience shortly, but first a taste of what I mean about the American debate. According to Sarah Palin, for example, the Obama plan will involve a system of sinister committees – “death panels” - which will decide whether the old or infirm have the right to live or die.
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This week in Parliament will be an important test of the Opposition’s commitment to both health reform and economic responsibility.
Right now we’re looking at making some of the biggest reforms to our health care system since the introduction of Medicare.
We can’t do that unless we make the hard decisions.
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Make no mistake about it. The battle to preserve Australia’s mix of public and private health care will be joined in earnest this week.
At stake is a worsening of the shaky health of our public hospitals.
At stake also is a direct cost impact for almost half the population who have private health insurance and an indirect, or delayed, impact on those who rely on public hospitals for treatment.
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From the Budget papers:
The Government is committed to retaining the [Extended Medicare Safety Net]. This demands that the safety net remain sustainable. There is evidence to suggest that excessive growth of fees for obstetrics and other services, such as Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), hair transplants and varicose veins is putting this sustainability at risk.
(I need to be clear that this is not in any way making light of the fact that treatments like IVF are facing a cap. You can read about a child who probably would never have been born had the cap been in place here.)
Step forward, Shane Warne. You have clearly encouraged men of Australia to seek out hair replacement treatments in a way that provides an opportunity to publish this picture again. Warney videos for your viewing pleasure below, too.
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@Rob_Stott ... But don't go to Awaba unless you're a local because they'll treat you like a subhuman
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