New Youth Health Policy launched at the AAAH Youth Health Conference
The 2017 Australian Association for Adolescent Health (AAAH) [opens external site] Youth Health Conference, themed ‘Youth Health, Research, Policy, Practice: Tying it All Together’ welcomed more than 150 guests from across Australia to explore how all efforts and ideas for improving youth health can be brought together to affect real change. The conference focussed on inequality, marginalised groups of young people, innovation in clinical care and programs, how research translates into practice and policy and how different sectors work together.
UTS Professor Fiona Brooks and Associate Professor Angela Dawson presented on The Primary Health Care Response to Adolescent Self-Harm. “Self-harm among young people, particularly girls, is an increasing public health issue that demands attention,” said Associate Professor Dawson, “Our research with NSW Health is looking at ways to better involve GPs in delivering evidence based early interventions to prevent serious adverse physical and emotional health outcomes including premature death.”
The Honorary Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Health, launched the NSW Youth Health Framework for 2017-2024 and shared his experiences interacting with incarcerated youth. “With a background in homelessness and social justice, the Minister understands the link between social determinants and health outcomes,” said Sally Gibson of NSW Health. “You can’t get better health outcomes without looking at the social factors as well.”
The new framework builds on the previous policy and documents a range of health issues. “It's the end result of a lot of consultation about what the health system could be doing better, a really good tool to give guidance to the health system,” said Sally Gibson. “It’s great to have it out publicly now so that we can start driving it.”
Keynote speaker Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner spoke about the rights of children and young people to have their distinct health needs met, as outlined in the UN Charter. Commissioner Mitchell said it was an honour to open the conference with “a strong focus on youth voice, leadership and participation.”
Among other sessions were the presentation of new service models and medicines for young people with chronic diseases, particularly those transitioning from paediatric to adult healthcare, and a discussion of the largely unexamined issue of contraception and abortion in Australia. A representative from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne presented on clinical practice, research and advocacy for children and adolescents with gender dysmorphia, an area of service currently lacking in Sydney.