Practice Connect #189


22 February 2024

Welcome to this edition of Practice Connect, a fortnightly update for practice managers, nurses and practice administration staff on relevant issues, upcoming events and education.

Acknowledgement of Country 

WA Primary Health Alliance acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country and recognises the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.

Throughout this newsletter, the term 'Aboriginal' is used to refer to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, unless stated otherwise.



Practice Updates


Nurse-led model is helping to improve immunisation rates for Aboriginal children

The team at the Nidjalla Waangan Mia Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Centre

In Western Australia, the immunisation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the one, two and five-year old cohorts are below the national benchmark of 95%. As of September 2023, the coverage rates* were as follows:

  • One-year olds fully immunised: 84.85%.
  • Two-year olds fully immunised: 81.06%.
  • Five-year olds fully immunised: 93.67%.

To help improve the coverage rates, Nidjalla Waangan Mia Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Centre, located in the Community Health Building in Mandurah, is using the nurse-led model to provide a range of culturally appropriate services including immunisation.
Practice Manager, Kerry Cabassi, explained that when patients and their families attend the clinic, the practice nurse opportunistically checks their Australian immunisation records to prompt any due or overdue vaccinations.
“The nurse-led model allows time for discussion with the patients and their families to alleviate any fears and answer any questions or concerns they may have. We play music at the clinic, use a buzzy bee (a small vibrating device to help block pain and provide distraction during immunisation) and give a lollipop following the vaccination,” Ms Cabassi said.
Practice Nurse, Bernie Garnier, said the team at Nidjalla Waangan Mia works closely with the community health clinic located next door to vaccinate Aboriginal patients and their children while they are on the premises, rather than booking them in for another appointment at a later date.
“This team-based model of care has proved to be a successful way to ensure that our patients have a culturally safe environment with opportunistic access to care,” Ms Garnier said.
For further information about the nurse-led model and other ways that your practice can support Aboriginal patients, email Practice Assist via or call 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478).

*Source: Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, current coverage data tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
Note: WA Primary Health Alliance uses the term Aboriginal in preference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, in recognition that Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of Western Australia.



Have you spent your Strengthening Medicare GP Grant?

The Strengthening Medicare GP Grants program is fast approaching completion. Practices are encouraged to spend their Grant funding before the end date of the program which is 30 June 2024
The Grants were available for investments in innovation, training, equipment, and minor capital works in one or more of the three investment streams including:

  1. Enhancing digital health capability – to fast-track the benefits of a more connected healthcare system in readiness to meet future standards. 
  2. Upgrading infection prevention and control arrangements – to support the safe, face to face assessment of patients with symptoms of potentially infectious respiratory diseases (e.g., COVID, influenza). 
  3. Maintaining and/or achieving accreditation against the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Standards for General Practices, under the General Practice Accreditation Scheme – to promote quality and safety in general practice.
For guidance on how to spend your grant funding under each investment stream, please refer to the GP Grants Investment Stream Activities Guidance resource. 
At the end of the Program, practices are required to complete an online financial acquittal form, listing Grant funding expenditure and an online self-evaluation form to indicate how the grant has improved your practice in line with the Program objectives.
We encourage practices to make every effort to complete the online forms as soon as practicable after the grant funding has been spent on eligible activities, and no later than 31 July 2024 for completion of all reporting against the program.
The links to the forms can be found below: 

Practices will not need to submit receipts when they complete the financial acquittal form but will be required to retain them in line with Australian Taxation Office requirements. Practices are reminded that the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care are now conducting audit activities which may require select practices to show evidence of expenditure such as tax receipts.
If you have any questions about the General Practice Grants Program, please contact the General Practice Grants team on or Practice Assist on 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478).



WA residents now able to access interstate stimulant prescriptions

The WA Schedule 8 Prescribing Code has recently been updated to allow certain types of specialists to apply to be authorised as stimulant prescribers when providing telehealth services to residents of WA. 

For more information on the change, see Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch – Dispensing Interstate Prescriptions. For information on stimulant prescribing in WA, see Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch – Stimulant medicines.

Make sure your clinical staff are aware of this change with assisting patient referrals to these types of specialists.


Medical Cost Finder Resources released

Health professionals who refer patients to see a specialist can help their patients prepare by suggesting they visit the Medical Costs Finder.

It helps patients find the typical costs for common private health treatments.

New videos are now available to explain how the website helps patients: 

  • Find the typical costs for common private health treatments in different locations across Australia 
  • Understand and plan for the costs of private treatment early in the journey 
  • Access tips to confidently discuss medical costs with a specialist  

Materials for health professionals and patients are available from the resources collection. 

Visit Medical Costs Finder | Australian Government Department of Health  


Diabetes management during Ramadan

The Islamic month of Ramadan is expected to take place from the evening of Saturday 9 March until Monday the 8 April 2024.

During this time many Muslim people abstain from eating, drinking and taking medication from sunrise to sunset.
Although some people with diabetes will choose not to fast, those who choose to fast may be at risk of unstable glycaemic control and hypoglycaemia.

Most people with type 2 diabetes can fast safely with appropriate medical advice and management before and during fasting.

However, people with type 1 diabetes need special consideration. Pregnant women with diabetes are advised not to fast.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has an informative resource advising GPs on how to discuss and manage their patients with Diabetes safely during their fast.

View the resource here.


Identifying and supporting patients experiencing food insecurity

For some, accessing sufficient food to eat can be a daily or weekly struggle. In 2023, 36 per cent of Australian households experienced moderate to severe food insecurity. People who are food insecure may experience stress, skip meals, and consume nutritionally inadequate food.
GPs and other health professionals play an important role in identifying and treating the consequences of food insecurity which include physical, social and emotional ramifications, and increased risks for chronic diseases.
To access a range of resources on identifying food insecurity and the support options available to your patients, visit the Food insecurity page on the Shape website.



Medicare's 40th Anniversary

This year is the 40th anniversary of Medicare.

The commemorative website features historical information, an image gallery, and stories from health professions about their experiences with Medicare. More activities are being planned and the website will continue to be updated with more information.
Celebrate this important Medicare milestone as we recognise its invaluable contribution to Australia’s health and wellbeing. Here’s to the past, present, and future of Medicare.
Learn more here



Have you heard about the free services PANDA offer families?

Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) provides free counselling and support for expecting and new parents with a child up to the age of 12 months. They support all parents, especially those facing barriers accessing mainstream services.

PANDA’s website has information on a wide range of mental health and wellbeing topics, including articles translated into 40 languages. You can download or order free printed resources for your clinic or service on our website here.




Immunisation & Cancer Screening


"Play Catch Up" with overdue immunisations

WA Primary Health Alliance, together with the Immunisation Foundation of Australia and the Metropolitan Centre for Disease Control have joined forces to encourage parents and guardians of children starting out at school to ensure their vaccination status is up to date.
The “Play Catch Up” promotion will include distribution of flyers in schools, kindy’s and playgroups as well as social media publications.

The flyer directs parents who are unsure of their child’s immunisation to their local GP, Child Health Care Unit or to contact Public Health.

GP clinics are encouraged to use the social media tile and add their practice details and booking links to promote immunisation catch up in their practices in these early weeks of the school year.

For further assistance with the Play Catch Up promotion please contact Practice Assist on 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478).



AIR Field changes become mandatory from 1 March

In February the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) added new vaccination fields into their data collection, of which some of those new fields become mandatory on the 1 March 2024.
New reporting fields that have been added: 

  1. Vaccine Type 
  2. Route of Administration
The Vaccine Type field will become mandatory on 1 March 2024.

From the same date, the Route of Administration field will become mandatory for Japanese encephalitis vaccines only.
1. Vaccination Type
Under the Vaccine Type field, vaccination providers will be able to choose from the following options:
  1. Antenatal
  2. NIP/Commonwealth 
  3. Private
  4. State Program
  • ​Vaccination providers can only select one of the four options above.
  • The Antenatal option should be selected when the person presenting is pregnant at the time the vaccine is administered, regardless of whether the vaccine is funded privately, under the NIP, or under a state or territory program
  • COVID-19 vaccines should be reported as NIP/Commonwealth
2. Route of Administration
Under the Route of Administration field – which will be mandatory for Japanese encephalitis vaccines only – vaccination providers will be able to choose from the following options:
  • Oral
  • Subcutaneous
  • Intradermal
  • Intramuscular

Please ensure that your Medical software is showing these new fields, or contact your Medical software provider for further assistance.

Any vaccination without the new fields entered on or after 1 March will be rejected by AIR. For further information please see the vaccine update from the Western Australian Department of Health. 


Australian Immunisation Handbook tip

What vaccinations are recommended for women who are planning pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding? 

Vaccine preventable diseases can cause complications during pregnancy and poorer health outcomes for infants.  
Women who are planning pregnancy should have their vaccination needs assessed. In particular, vaccination against hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella should be considered and given PRIOR to pregnancy.  

Live vaccines should not be administered during pregnancy, and pregnancy should be avoided for 28 days after receiving a live vaccine.  
Pregnant women are recommended to receive:  

  • influenza vaccine (during any stage of pregnancy) 
  • a pertussis-containing vaccine, (preferably between 20 and 32 weeks gestation).  

Both of the above vaccines are recommended in every pregnancy and are funded under the NIP.   

Breastfeeding is not a contraindication for most vaccines.   
More detail can be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook chapter on this topic and in this printable infographic that summarises the chapter. 


Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI) parent website contact card

Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI) has developed a parent website contact card for health providers with details to their website.

Healthcare providers can give this to parents to access the website at home.

The SKAI website provides parent-friendly information about immunisation and provides answers to common questions.
Find the resource here.


Six things you should know about HPV

In their most recent newsletter, Cancer Council WA highlighted HPV and the direct links to cancer.
HPV is short for human papillomavirus. There are many different types of HPV. HPV often has no symptoms, and the body usually clears the infection naturally.

However, it’s important to know that sometimes HPV can lead to serious illness like cancer.
Western Australian children in Year 7 will be offered the free HPV vaccine at their secondary school.

The School Based Immunisation Program has commenced their 2024 program.
Parents/guardians and adolescents must provide consent through VaccinateWA or by completing and returning the school’s immunisation consent form.

Opportunistically being asked by the nurse or GP in a practice setting can either lead to a vaccination being given or serve as a reminder to complete the consent process.
Access the article here.


How to spot a skin cancer

With all the sun and heat we have been having recently, the Cancer Council has provided a timely reminder on spotting skin cancers.
Did you know that when found early, there is a 95% chance of successful treatment for skin cancer?

Patients should be advised to be familiar with their skin and knowing what to look out for.
Look out for new spots, or spots that are changing in size, shape or colour. Also look out for non-healing sores.

Patients should be made aware of the following when checking skin for signs of any cancer:

  • New moles
  • Moles that increase in size
  • An outline of a mole that becomes notched
  • A spot that changes colour from brown to black or is varied
  • A spot that becomes raised or develops a lump within it
  • The surface of a mole becoming rough, scaly or ulcerated
  • Moles that itch or tingle
  • Moles that bleed or weep
  • Spots that look different from the others

Advise your patients to note any changes and to make an appointment with their GP for a review as soon as possible.

Further information here.



NCIRS webinar series - preventing respiratory disease in 2024

As the Australian summer tails off and the cooler months approach, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) has announced a series of webinars on the prevention of respiratory disease in 2024. 

Registration is now open for each of the events, where leading immunisation experts will present on the latest developments on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and COVID-19 vaccination, including:

  • new and upcoming vaccines and treatments 
  • 2023–24 disease and vaccination trends 
  • answers to frequently asked questions. 

These webinars will be recorded and made available on the NCIRS website in the days following the sessions.

Even if you are unable to attend, register to receive the link to the recordings via email when they become available.

RSV vaccine and antibody to prevent disease in infants 
Tuesday 27 February (12pm–1pm AEDT)
Register here
RSV vaccines for the protection of older adults
Thursday 7 March (12pm–1pm AEDT) 
Register here
Influenza and COVID-19 vaccination update
Wednesday 27 March (12pm–1:30pm AEDT)
Register here


COVID-19 Updates


COVID-19 Vaccines in Australia - A3 poster

The COVID-19 Vaccines in Australia poster provides key differences between each COVID-19 Vaccines approved for use in Australia as per the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines.

It has had a recent update on 1 February 2024.
View the resource here.


Digital Health Updates


Digital Health Tools to support your practice

Digital Health provides a cost-effective way to consult with patients and empowers practitioners with comprehensive patient data, supporting a patient-centred approach and creating positive health outcomes.

My Health Record: Empowering Comprehensive Patient Care

My Health Record, Australia's national digital health record system, plays a pivotal role in providing GPs with access to a centralised repository of patient information. It houses health records, test results, medications, and treatment plans, offering a holistic view of a patient's health history.

ePrescribing: Enhancing Medication Management

ePrescribing has improved efficiency in the prescription process and enhanced patient convenience, eliminating the need for physical paper prescriptions. It contributes to medication safety and reduces the risk of errors. In conjunction with the use of My Health Record, GPs can make informed decisions about prescription medications, ensuring compatibility with existing treatments and minimising adverse reactions.


Telehealth: Connecting Care Beyond Practice Walls

Telehealth is a way to provide accessible and convenient consultations between providers and patients with an existing clinical relationship. It minimises geographical barriers, and promotes flexible healthcare delivery.  New telehealth MBS items were introduced in November 2023 for Level C (longer than 20 minutes) and D (longer than 40 minutes) telephone consultations with patients registered in MyMedicare.  These items join the Level A, B, C, D and E (longer than 60 minutes) MBS items for video consultations which are available for all patients with an existing clinical relationship.

For information on Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items see the MBS Telehealth – Video and Phone Services For Medical Practitioners in General Practice factsheet.

Need further assistance?

If you would like further assistance with Digital Health Tools to support your practice, please contact Practice Assist via email or call 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478). Further information can also be found on the Practice Assist  Digital Health Tool Kit page.


Best Practice update allows uploading Advanced Care Plans directly to My Health Record

General Practitioners (GPs) utilising Best Practice will soon have the capability to directly upload patients' advanced care planning documents onto My Health Record.

This development is part of the expanded functionalities within My Health Record, marking a stride towards facilitating seamless access to vital care planning documents.

This advancement has become a pivotal step in accessing important care planning documents, removing the challenge of GPs, patients, and patients’ families retrieving documents at a time of need and review.

Scheduled for release in Best Practice's next software update, Bp Premier Orchid SP1. GPs will have the option to upload care planning documents either internally, creating PDFs within Best Practice, uploading documents from Best Practice’s main menu and onto My Health Record. Or, documents can be externally downloaded as a PDF file, and then uploaded from Best Practice’s correspondence menu.

For detailed information and updates, users can refer to the Bp Premier Orchid Release Notes.

Need further assistance?

If you would like further information, please contact the Practice Assist team on 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 22 77 478).



Research & Surveys


General Practice Nurses and Community Pharmacists needed for Women's Health Survey

Researchers at the Monash University, SPHERE Centre of Research Excellence, are inviting General Practitioners and Practice Nurses to participate in a national survey about providing women’s sexual and reproductive health services

Take the survey now


Health Promotion Event


RACGP International Women's Day Event

Presented by RACGP
Thursday 7 March 2024 (6:30pm-9:30pm AEDT)

Join RACGP as we celebrate International Women's Day and hear from amazing women who will have meaningful discussion on the International Women's Day theme, Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.

Based on the priority theme for the United Nations 68th Commission on the Status of Women, Count Her In will examine the pathways to greater economic inclusion for women and girls everywhere.

Hear from Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service's Medical Director, Dr Richelle Douglas, and CEO of Ishar Multicultural Women's Health Services, Andrea Creado. Facilitated by WA Council Chair, Dr Ramya Raman.

Register here


Education & Events


New March training dates announced: Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST)

Presented by WA Primary Health Alliance
Multiple Dates & Times

We’re providing GPs in WA with paid online Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) training, designed to help practitioners and clinicians recommend the most appropriate level of care for a person seeking mental health support.
GPs and GP registrars who attend the two workshops in the one online session will be remunerated $300 for their time with CPD hours available. 

Find out more and register today


General Practitioners networking event

Presented by South Metropolitan Health Service & WAPHA
14 March 2024 (Fiona Stanley Hospital Education Building)

The executive and clinical staff of Fiona Stanley and Fremantle Hospitals are pleased to invite local general and nurse practitioners to attend a series of General Practitioners Networking Events in 2024.

The events are planned to mix education, Q&A and networking opportunities. An hour of CPD (self logged) may be recorded after
each event and an attendance certificate will be provided.

Find out more and register here


WA Rural Health Conference 2024

Presented by Rural Health West
16 & 17 March 2024 (Hyatt Regency Perth)

Connect with health professionals from a variety of disciplines who all play a part in delivering vital healthcare services across rural WA. By bringing together all rural health professionals under one roof, we seek to promote connection between these different perspectives, sharing insights and innovations in order to strengthen and enhance healthcare in rural WA.

Find out more and register here


General Practice Emergency Response Team (GPERT) Webinar

Presented by WA Primary Health Alliance
18 March 2024 (5pm to 6pm AWST)

The role of general practice (GP) is not formally defined in the State Health Emergency Response Plan, leaving GPs and practice staff without inclusion across prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR) activities.
The GPERT webinar will explore how the project will define the role of GP in disaster for WA.
The following topics will be covered:

  • State emergency management arrangements as they relate to primary care providers.
  • Health response and disaster management in WA.
  • Primary health’s role in prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR) in disaster and emergency.
  • How stakeholders can contribute towards shaping the GPERT model by completing the survey.

View the flyer here
Find out more and register today.



Other Webinars, Events & Workshops

NCIRS webinar on Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Presented by NCIRS
27 February 
WA Sexual Health Update: Syphilis Contact Tracing and Partner Notification: Utilising Digital Technology
Presented by ASHM
26 February

National HIV s100 Peer Support and Case Discussion Session
Presented by ASHM
6 March

Chemotherapy: Supporting patients in their cancer treatment
Presented by Cancer Council WA
7 March 2024 (7pm to 8pm AWST)
Chronic Conditions of the Foot (Bentley Location)
Presented by Benchmarque Group Pty Limited
8 March
BreastScreen WA visit to Fremantle
Presented by BreastScreen WA
8 March to 12 April
BreastScreen WA visit to Carnarvon
Presented by BreastScreen WA
12 March to 8 April
AAPM Chat with Nat: Actively managing your mental wellbeing to minimise fatigue and maintain motivation in 2024
Presented by AAPM
14 March
WA Rural Health Excellence Awards - Save the date!
Presented by Rural Health West
16 March
WA Rural Health Conference 2024
Presented by Rural Health West
16 March & 17 March
BreastScreen WA visit to Ravensthorpe
Presented by BreastScreen WA
28 March to 2 April
BreastScreen WA visit to Jerramungup
Presented by BreastScreen WA
28 March to 2 April
BreastScreen WA visit to Byford
Presented by BreastScreen WA
28 March to 29 April
The role of surgery in the management of advanced NMSC in the era of effective systemic therapies
Presented by Melanoma Institute Australia
30 March
CPR for GPs
Presented by RACGP
16 April

Practice Assist acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country and recognises the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.

While the Australian Government Department of Health has contributed to the funding of this website, the information on this website does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by the Australian Government. The Australian Government is not responsible in negligence or otherwise for any injury, loss or damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.