Geographical Data

Furthering on from the previous post – “Case Study – Vitamin K”

Over 92% of Australian children are vaccinated to protect them against disease, however Northern NSW has one of the lowest child vaccination rates in the country.

VACCINE RATES in 2014 – 2015 – vaccination of five-year olds:

  • 61% in Byron Bay
  • 46.7% in Mullumbimby

The Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network is very active in northern NSW. They are neither ‘pro-vac’ or ‘anti-vac’ – but are ‘pro choice.’ The AVsN claim medical practitioners have a responsibility to inform each person of the side-effects of a vaccine, both good and bad, but they fail to do this.

What I gather from this site, is that networks and advocacy groups like the AVsN indirectly promote doubt in the minds of parents, and directly doubt the scientific processes behind immunisation.

Case Study – Vitamin K

A northern-NSW five-week old baby was fighting for life this year after suffering a brain haemorrhage, an illness that the Vitamin K injection sufficiently prevents. A shot that parents must consent to.

Babies are born with a natural deficiency of Vitamin K, which once killed approximately 15 babies per year, before routine injections, introduced in the 1970s, reduced the incidence to nearly 0.

Older children and adults receive most of their Vitamin K from bacteria in their gut, with the rest supplemented from their diet. With babies however, and after birth, there is minimal Vitamin K in breast milk, leaving breast fed babies severely low in Vitamin K until their gut starts producing it. Infant formula has added Vitamin K, but formula-fed babies still do not receive the required level needed to protect them.

Young talent of the Illawarra

The Illawarra Academy of Sport competed at the 2017 Clubs NSW Academy Games in the Central Coast over the weekend, taking the podium for boys hockey, girls rugby sevens and various triathlon events.

The Games showcase the states best talent of Academy athletes from 11 regional New South Wales towns and include nine sports ranging from basketball to triathlons.

Programs and Communications Coordinator of the Clubs NSW Academy Games and Central Coast Academy of Sport, Mark Tipple said the Academy Games are an annual event held in April each year and reveal plenty of young talent from across the State.

“The Games are held for pre-elite and junior athletes and ages vary depending on the sport played, but most athletes are 14-16 years of age.” 

The Illawarra Academy of Sport was the first Academy created in NSW and a pioneer for the Academy model in Australia.

Program and Athlete Development Manager from the Illawarra Academy of Sport, Andrew Barrett, said athletes from the Academy competed in the basketball, hockey, rugby sevens, golf, netball, tenpin bowling and both short and long course triathlons.

“Every athlete puts in many hours each week to play at the level they do. They have been working hard for months or even years. It is quite amazing what talents exists here in the Illawarra.”

The Academy featured on the podium with first place in the girl’s rugby sevens after an undefeated streak, third place in golf, third place in boy’s hockey and various seconds, thirds and fourths for the short and long course triathlons. 

Established in 1985, the Illawarra Academy of Sport has supported more than 5000 regional athletes with programs to develop and excel through sport while maintaining strong community ties, particularly Sally Fitzgibbons (surfing), Emma McKeon (swimming) and Josh Morris (rugby league).

The Hunter will be the Host Academy for the Games for 2018 - 2020.


Healing our healers: Junior doctors struggling to cope with demands of the industry

A rise of suicides in the Australian medical profession in recent months has sparked query about the industry’s culture to protect the mental health of its young workers.

Four junior doctors have committed suicide in New South Wales in the past six months, contributing to a total of 20 doctors that have done so in the past decade, according to a report conducted by NSW Coroner Michael Barnes.

A report released by Australian mental health organisation BeyondBlue in 2013 found that doctors have higher rates of psychological distress and attempted suicides than other Australian professions, in particular doctors under 30. This report went ignored and Australian Medical Association (NSW) President, Brad Frankum, urges mentally ill doctors to connect with trusted people and speak up.

“We know doctors are very likely to be perfectionists, which is good when it comes to caring for patients but can be very difficult when it comes to caring for yourself.”

Director of the Illawarra Institute for Mental Health at the University of Wollongong and Professor of Psychology at the University, Frank Deane, said junior doctors face multiple sources of stress alongside a reluctance to admit they are suffering in the first place.

“Concerns about others negative perceptions is a major barrier. On top of this for doctors are potential unknown effects on their career such as perceived competence and reputation.

“For high achieving individuals there is a greater belief that they can handle these problems on their own since they have been successful in many other respects. This may lead to longer delays in seeking help.”

In New South Wales, a doctor who tells another doctor they are having mental health issues is required to report it by law to the Medical Council of NSW.

“Where there is significant impairment that may effect treatment of patients there is clearly a need for some system to ensure patient safety,” Professor Deane said. “However there is clearly a barrier to seeking help and in this sense is not a good thing.”

Medical Science (Honours) student from the University of Sydney, Lucy Urizar is aiming to transition into a Doctor of Medicine in 2018.

“Medicine is very competitive and would be hard for someone to admit their mental health problems as it may show they are not cut out for the job, especially while others seem to be coping,” Lucy said.

“The hospital system is very demanding for junior doctors. We are required to complete a two-year internship upon graduating, the hours are irregular and long and you have people’s lives in your hands. It is so easy to see how someone’s mental health would decline.”

With such a stigma still surrounding mental health, AMA President Brad Frankum encourages society to acknowledge the level of distress that exists but insists there is always an alternative to suicide.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

JRNL301: Science & Vaccination

Science is about falsification of fact – testing to see if something is wrong. You look at data, you look at the assumptions made and you attempt to refute these. This is a way of testing and establishing knowledge. If this cannot be refuted, these assumptions move into theories, then principles and then laws. This is how we have our view of vaccination today.

There are two sides to vaccination: pre-vax [everyone should be vaccinated to prevent the spread and contraction of disease] and anti-vax [everyone should have freedom of choice].

In the coming weeks I will be producing both audio and video pieces for publication.

JRNL301: Data Research and Investigative Journalism

For JRNL301 (Data Research and Investigative Journalism), I am studying the topic ‘Vaccinations in Australia’, specifically the science behind such vaccinations compared with the increasing tendency of parents refusing such vaccinations for their children.

Some issues/cases I will be focussing upon include:

  • A Northern-NSW baby fought for life in hospital after his parents refused the Vitamin K injection (given to babies to prevent haemorrhaging as they are born with vitally low levels);
  • Anti-vaccination geographically, particularly in Northern-NSW where vaccination levels are as low as just 50% in some areas with vaccination-sceptics prevalent in the area;
  • What is immunisation?
  • What is vaccination?
  • Who benefits from a vaccine?
  • Are vaccinations safe?
  • World Immunisation Week (24th – 30th April)

Stay tuned.