CHARLES Sturt University academics from Orange recently headlined a national symposium to collaborate on a plan to improve the healthcare delivered to Australians living with mental and physical health conditions.
Experts from Charles Sturt, the Mitchell Institute and more than 50 industry organisations joined forces at the symposium in Canberra to develop a set of priority recommendations to present to government.
Keynote speaker for the symposium, Associate Professor Russell Roberts from the Charles Sturt School of Marketing and Management, said the collaborative efforts at the symposium had resulted in a national action plan now being developed.
"Charles Sturt, the Mitchell Institute and the industry partners joined forces at the symposium because we all identified that urgent action needs to be taken so the prevention of physical health conditions for people experiencing mental health conditions is considered a priority," Professor Roberts said.
"Life expectancy for people who experience mental health conditions is reduced by up to 25 years and research shows 80 per cent of people living with a mental illness have a chronic physical illness."
Professor Roberts said a lot of changes need to happen to improve the healthcare offered in Australia for people living with coexisting mental and physical health conditions.
"One of the recommendations identified at the symposium was how a unique approach needs to be taken in rural and regional areas given they have unique needs," he said.
"We need to improve the physical and mental health services in regional and rural areas to develop healthy, vibrant and resilient communities which provide adequate access to services.
"We need strong regional communities where the foundations of strong physical and mental health are present.
"To do this, we need to improve services and facilities, such as footpaths, bike paths, gyms, parks and sporting grounds, and improve access to healthcare services in rural and regional areas."
The Charles Sturt academics who attended the symposium are based at Charles Sturt's Orange campus and are members of the national research project Equally Well, which supports the physical health of people with mental illnesses.
The project, designed and implemented by experts at Charles Sturt, is investigating the impact of national leadership and social marketing campaigns on the use of online resources to support the physical health of people with mental illnesses.
The academics from Charles Sturt also established an international learning and support network among 12 countries earlier this year to address the global issue of improving the physical health of people living with mental illness.
Award sounds good
BATHURST woman Elizabeth Rehling has been awarded the prestigious Greg Bell Student Encouragement Award from the Australian Screen Sound Guild.
Miss Rehling, a student in the Charles Sturt School of Communication and Creative Industries specialising in sound design, was announced as a joint winner of the screen industry award earlier.
The national award recognises excellence in students who are studying and producing work in sound design for film, television and other related audio industries.
Miss Rehling was studying and working in sound design in Wagga Wagga until she recently relocated to Tasmania for work.