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Mother kangaroos face higher health risks to carry and raise their young than their non-reproducing sisters; a new University of Melbourne study has shown.

The Victorian Government should be congratulated on the release of its Metropolitan Health Plan to 2022 announced today, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne Professor James Angus said.

Professor Geoff Stevens talks with ABC 24 about some of the issues facing Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Prof Stevens was speaking ahead of the "Fukushima: The Facts & The Fallout" public lecture, occurring at the University of Melbourne on March 31.

More information about the lecture can be found at http://www.eng.unimelb.edu.au/nuclear/ while a full profile of Prof Stevens is available on http://www.chemeng.unimelb.edu.au/people/staff/stevens.html. 

The collection and access of medical records needs to change to improve health care outcomes, says Professor Loane Skene from the University of Melbourne.

Australian businesses will need to engage in sustainability reporting in the future to remain competitive, according to a new report.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has today received Australia’s first National Preventative Health Strategy from Committee Chair, Professor Rob Moodie of the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

Whale and dolphin stranding is being investigated to discover what part disease plays in this phenomenon.

A leading Melbourne University health expert says one of the main benefits of the NT Intervention has been getting Indigenous health back on the agenda as a major social justice issue in Australia.

Professor Hugh Taylor, who is Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, began working alongside Fred Hollows in the seventies, and has for 30 years been striving to eradicate trachoma, a treatable eye disease causing blindness which disproportionately affects Indigenous Australians.

He was present in a NT Aboriginal community two years ago when the first army support teams arrived, and had a chance to observe initial contact.  Although impressed with the way members of the team handled themselves, he says some of their initiatives sought to address needs that had been identified for years, such as housing, community halls and recreation facilities, women’s refuges and an ongoing police presence.

Professor Taylor says if these things are actually delivered through the Intervention, it will make a huge difference, although some of the things that have happened are "less impressive than others".

"In one community I went to, all the houses had been painted on the outside, they look terrific, but nothing has been done inside. They’re terrible.  So there are some things that you have to question.  But it takes time to build houses, rebuild schools and community services; and it also takes money.  I think that’s starting, but it has a long, long way to go.

"The worst feature (of the intervention) to my mind - was the absolute crushing and destruction of the Aboriginal leadership.  Anybody who had been working in Aboriginal affairs was basically wiped off by the government ... People were grieving, mourning not only the impact of the intervention, but the destruction of the Aboriginal leadership and processes, and people were just totally undermined.  So that was a very bad thing to happen, and it should not have happened."

Professor Taylor says although some people are ideologically and philosophically against the practice of quarantining welfare payments (for food and essentials only), there have been some striking results.

"Some of the vocal people are against it because they want the money to spend on alcohol or on gambling ... a huge amount of money changes hands in these communities through card games.

"But the impression I get from speaking to people in the communities is that things are much quieter, there is much less problem from alcohol and noise at night ... much less humbugging for money. Kids are better nourished, and there is a huge change in the range of food and vegetables you can see in the stores."

With the Federal Government set to resume debate today on proposed changes to taxes on alcopops, Professor Rob Moodie, Chair of Global Health at the University of Melbourne, discusses the benefits of such a tax.

Professor Moodie says there is independent evidence that the alcopop tax does work in reducing consumption, with independent studies revealing 165 million fewer spirit-based drinks were drunk by Australians when the tax was enforced between May 2008 and January 2009.

Professor Moodie says making the tax permanent is an important step in creating a much safer drinking culture in Australia, and ultimately saving lives as part of a concerted effort to reduce teenage binge drinking.

Australia well prepared to face swine flu outbreak, says Director of the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne, Professor Graham Brown

Professor Brown says he is not surprised that the World Health Organisation has called the recent outbreak of swine flu a public health emergency of international concern.

This has been noted as an epidemic of potential concern as the World Health organisation want to act early; because the flu has traveled outside Mexico, there is a risk of it becoming a pandemic, he says.

Professor Brown says there is no current vaccine for swine flu but that it would be possible - now that the genetic sequence is known - for scientists to begin preparing the seed lots and make a vaccine for the future. Yet Professor Brown says this could take a few months.

We do not have immunity to swine flu and we do not expect current influenza vaccines to protect humans against this new strain, but anti-viral drugs should be effective, he says.

Professor Brown says this outbreak will provide Australia with a good opportunity to prepare itself for a pandemic. He says that at times like this, it is more important than ever to remember the simple measures - like washing your hands - needed to prevent the spread of any form of influenza spread.

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