Monday, February 9, 2015

Pormpur Paanthu Aboriginal Corporation

Late last year I was very happy to accept an invitation to join the Board of a fantastic, community-controlled organisation in Pormpuraaw, the Pormpur Paanthu Aboriginal Corporation, as an Expert Director. As noted on their website:

"Pormpur Paanthu Aboriginal Corporation is a non-government, community controlled organisation, established in 1991 out of community need.
Its focus is to provide quality, evidence-based services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Pormpuraaw, providing child care, homeless and temporary accommodation, preventative education, intervention, crisis and responsive care; domestic and family violence therapies; and alcohol and other drug counselling and advocacy and support for families, young people and children.
Pormpur Paanthu Aboriginal Corporation is a proud employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and regards its human resources as a key component to the success of its services"

I look forward to working with PPAC on the multiple research projects we have going through the University of Melbourne and contributing to the organisation in any way I can.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education are launching a new CAPR publication in Sydney, 24th Feb

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Photos from the field: Northern Australia 2014

The crocodile farm at Pormpuraaw. Disconcerting when driving around the perimeter to see the places where the crocs have tried to push through the fence!

This photo was taken down at the beach in Pormpuraaw, a beautiful little Aboriginal community in Western Cape York. So many shells, you could sit in amongst them for hours fossicking through all the variations. A bit prickly underfoot though!

Another one here of myself and a couple of friends in Pormpuraaw. 

A section of the corrugated road somewhere between Cairns and Pormpuraaw. Its a fantastic road trip, but really is a long way. And you really do need that 4WD.

A few photos of Marcia Langton and Liz Pearson walking down the gorgeous beach at Pormpuraaw just before sunset.

A bat colony flying over the crocodile farm in Pormpuraaw at dusk - beautiful and a little creepy!

This is just outside of Weipa in Cape York, overlooking some of Rio Tinto's mining apparatus. Ah, that red dirt gets into everything.

This one I took on a light plane flying back to Cairns from Cape York. Some of the winding networks of the rivers are amazing to see from above (even if the shot is a little over exposed).

 Simpson's Gap, a beautiful place just out of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. I was up there working on a project investigating Alcohol Management Plans.

A glimpse through the trees of one of the quieter beaches in Darwin.

My first crocodile sighting in Cape York!

This one is at the opening of the Pormpurkuukyikngathar Culture, Knowledge and Learning Centre at the Cape York Youth Summit in Pormpuraaw.

More bats! These little critters were screeching up a storm when I was wandering through the rainforest getting bitten by swarms of mosquitoes. I wondered what the commotion was all about until I saw an eagle swoop into the trees and grab itself a tasty bat treat.

Mataranka thermal pools a little outside of Katherine in the Northern Territory. A beautiful part of Australia.

Another shot taken in Mataranka in the midst of the wet season.

Sunset from the 17th floor in Darwin...just minutes before a crazy monsoonal storm swept through like something out of a scene from a blockbuster movie. 

Article on one of my current projects in today's edition of The Age newspaper

Bridging the digital divide in Indigenous communities

I was interviewed a couple of weeks ago about one of the research projects I am currently undertaking in four Indigenous communities across northern Australia. I am halfway through the fieldwork at this point in time, but check out the link for a little more information.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Up and running again...

I have decided to get this blog up and running again after a lengthy sojourn. I have been busily working on a range of research topics in the interval, primarily exploring Alcohol Management Plans in northern Australia. I am still researching medical tourism in India and am in the process of finalising my PhD thesis, along with several related publications that will (hopefully) be finalised by the end of 2014. I am also working on a few other projects that will take me to a number of Aboriginal communities in northern Australia over the next 3-4 months. I have also already posted a couple of my upcoming presentations and events over the next few months.
Keep checking for updates in the coming weeks!

KBS Thematic meeting: Alcohol Policy Research Alcohol Policy Research: Putting together a global evidence base Thematic meeting of the Kettil Bruun Society: Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia, 8-11 September 2014

I am co-presenting a paper at the KBS Thematic meeting on Wednesday 10th September at 11am at @ the Fitzroy Town Hall with Marcia Langton and Richard Chenhall.

Alcohol Management Plans: Understanding best practice pathways to reduce alcohol-related harms in Aboriginal communities 

Alcohol Management Plans (AMPs) have become an important Australian government policy response to the harms from alcohol in Australian communities. Indigenous communities have been central to the development of AMPs in many communities, particularly throughout northern Australia. This paper explores the role and understandings of Alcohol Management Plans (AMPs) and related alcohol interventions in Indigenous communities in Australia. The paper discusses the preliminary findings from an ethnographic study of AMPs conducted in the Northern Territory, based on qualitative, semi-structured, in-depth interviews and focus groups conducted with a range of key stakeholders in Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and the community of Jilkminggan. Some of the key themes explored include: the problems associated with complex and intersecting, multi-tiered government policy and legislation; local issues related to the contested interests of industry, public health, communities and government; the absence of integrated, regional responses; and, some of the factors that have led to success within this increasingly volatile context. The paper concludes with an exploration of how these findings can inform State, Territory and Federal policy in developing ‘best practice’ pathways for communities to develop, implement and monitor AMPs.

Medical Tourism Summit: Understanding medical tourism and how recent changes will impact Australia 20-21 November 2014 | Rendezvous Grand Hotel Melbourne

Medical Tourism Summit
Understanding medical tourism and how recent changes will impact Australia

20-21 November 2014 | Rendezvous Grand Hotel Melbourne

I am giving a presentation on the first day of this Summit (see Agenda below).

The Inaugural Medical Tourism Summit will examine the implications of recent changes within the medical tourism industry and the impact on the Australian market. In the last few years, Australia has begun to see more and more tourists arriving to receive medical treatments, including cancer treatment, heart surgery and IVF.
Meanwhile, NIB Health Funds has announced that they will offer insurance for Australian’s heading overseas for dental and cosmetic surgery, with plans to eventually expand this service to cover other forms of medical tourism.
The conference program will also address:
  • The current state of the industry
  • The risks
  • Australian services and marketing
  • Legislative challenges


Thursday 20th November 2014
The Current State of Medical Tourism
9.00      Medical tourism: Opportunities and threats in a Globalised world
With the availability of efficient modern transportation, it is possible to travel long distances in a short period of time in today's environment. As international tourism developed, so has the investment in infrastructure to cater for the tourism industry, from which medical tourism has had the opportunity to develop alongside on an international scale. This presentation examines the scope and challenges of medical tourism in a globalised world. The globalisation of markets and production, provide the medical tourism industry opportunities similar to those available to other service and manufacturing industries. Accordingly, the supply and demand create opportunities and threats to the industry. In addition, there are the ecological threats posed by the microbial world to manage in this industry. A holistic approach is necessary for the sustainability of this global industry.
Dr Christine Lee, Lecturer at the School of Business and Economics at Federation University
9.40      Why people travel for medical care: what we know and don't know
This presentation summarises the latest social science research on the reasons people seek medical treatment overseas. Patterns of travel differ for various groups and nationalities of people and by treatments sought, and appears to fluctuate. Research remains limited, due to the difficulties in accessing a mobile population, lack of consistent statistical enumeration and because much of the information is considered commercial in confidence. Although emphasis is placed upon individual decision-making, governments and regulations as well as insurers and tie-in contracts are important in shaping the trade in medical services.
Associate Professor Andrea Whittaker, ARC Future Fellow in Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences, Monash University
10.40      CASE STUDY: The Patient Experience
A patient's experience is broader than just the clinical aspects of care - all of the various non-clinical interactions impact their experience. Because patients are often at their most vulnerable while receiving health care services, each interaction takes on added significance. All of these interactions, or touch points, are the basis of 'The Patient Experience'. Each touch point offers the health care provider the opportunity to deliver unique benefits to the patient and to create a platform for differentiation and competitive advantage.
Cassandra Italia, Managing Director, Healthcare Hands and Global Health Travel, Thailand

The Risks

11.20      Medical tourism and bioethics: Imprints left by the global neoliberalisation of health
Internationally, healthcare has been intensively privatised and commercialised over the past 20 years. Medical tourism has emerged in this context as an economic development strategy for many developing nations, and provisional remedy to the rising costs and waiting lists for healthcare in developed nations. Through a focus on research carried out in India, this paper will explore how medical tourism provides a window through which to view some of the broader, exploitative economic practices occurring within and between nations. It will also discuss how national and international regulation can guard against predatory practices and promote social justice, or alternatively, exacerbate current inequalities.
Kristen Dawn Smith, Research Fellow for the Centre for Health and Society at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
1.00      CASE STUDY: Travails of hope and the real cost of stem cell tourism
Buoyed by the promise of regenerative medicine, Australians are pursuing 'stem cell' treatments - both abroad and within Australia - in increasing numbers. Often referred to as 'stem cell tourism', this emerging service industry is a discrete and worrying sub-set of the medical tourism sector. Rather than offering access to established techniques and medical procedures, the 'stem cell' tourist is being sold unproven interventions with little or no evidence to substantiate the claims made - and high fees charged - by providers. Indeed the potential cost extends far beyond financial considerations for the individual, with real implications for the biotechnology community.
Dr Megan Munsie, Head of Education, Ethics, Law and Community Awareness Unit at the University of Melbourne; Policy and Outreach Manager at Stem Cells Australia
1.40      Does medical tourism trivialise the severity of plastic surgery?
Dr Tim Papadopoulos, President of the Australasian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

Marketing and public relations

2.40:        The need for a systematic and integrated approach to develop the medical tourism industry
Dr Hemani Thukral, Director of Medical Tourism, Australia Indian Travel & Tourism Council; Managing Director, MyMedicalChoices
3.20      CASE STUDY: The difficulties of trying to develop a medical tourism market for Australia
  • Early attempts to define and establish the sector
  • Early conferences, their findings and resolutions
  • Attitudinal and structural hurdles
  • The "tourism" side of medical tourism
  • The ongoing opportunity
Matthew Hingerty, CEO and Managing Director, Barton Deakin
4.00       Measures to Develop and Promote “Down-Under Medical Tourism Hub”
Medical tourism is one of the fastest growing multi-million dollar global healthcare service industries. It is also  known as healthcare tourism, medical outsourcing, medical refugees, international medical travel, bio-tech pilgrims - where patients seek cost effective, first world quality of heath-care with latest medical technology in another country. It is a complex phenomenon influenced by interactions between medical, economic, social, legal, ethical, and political factors operating either singly or in combination, such as high health and insurance costs, globalisation, digitisation, regulation, long waiting periods, and non-availability of treatment. Medical tourism combines access to invasive, diagnostic, cosmetic and alternative lifestyle healthcare services with exotic locations, medical specialist and caring local staff, and travel itineraries. It incorporates the appeal of achieving positive health outcomes for improving once quality of life, with the adventure of heritage, spiritual, and cultural tourism. Therefore, in order to be competitive medical tourism development, information distribution and promotion should be of great interest to Australian marketers, medical profession, policy makers and medical tourism industry as a whole.
Anita Medhekar, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Central Queensland University