Paediatrics 2040: the future of child and adolescent health services

On Wednesday 3rd April, the Centre for Adolescent Health, together with Deakin University and the Burnet Institute hosted our inaugural Catalysing Connections networking event at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Melbourne has great diversity in research into adolescent health and wellbeing. It is currently happening across sectors, disciplines, departments and universities without any venue for meeting. The intent of these events is to provide researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds the opportunity to discuss topics of mutual interest. In doing, strengthening Melbourne’s adolescent health networks and collaborations.

Watch Professor Patton’s introduction. 

Paediatrics 2040: the future of child and adolescent health services

Adolescents tend to be the least well served age group by health services in almost all places. They tend to have less access to services, face greater barriers in accessing those services, present particular challenges given the lack of skills of healthcare providers and generally benefit less from the health service system.  In the first event we discussed problems in the provision of quality adolescent health care including the fragmentation in adolescent health services.

Few places have established comprehensive and integrated models of care. Rather, service systems have mostly focussed on single health issues, with resulting gaps and a failure to take services to scale.  However, initiatives, including the National Action plan for Children’s and Young People’s Health and Victoria’s Royal Commission on Mental Health, offer opportunities to influence investment in adolescent health service systems.

Professor Russell Viner, the current president of the Royal College of paediatrics and Child health, has been involved in planning child and adolescent health services in the UK for over a decade. In this session, Professor Viner outlined the UK’s plans to adopt a comprehensive and integrated response from birth to 24 years.

Watch Professor Viner’s presentation.

Panel Q&A

A Q&A style panel discussion followed, exploring the Australian context and what the opportunities might be to develop more comprehensive and integrated health care for adolescents: and to what extent might the U.K.’s plans be applicable in this country?

Australia has been particularly prone to adopting strategies for the ‘issue du jour’ to investment in adolescent health rather than a comprehensive strategy. Sometimes investments are demarcated by age e.g. the early years vs youth; sometimes by topic e.g. mental health or cancer. The result has been fragmentation within adolescent service systems that are often difficult to access and where movement from one clinical setting to another is not easy.

The panel included Ms Penny Dakin, CEO of Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), Dr Jenny Proimos, Principal Medical Advisor at Department of Education and Training, and the Director, Centre for Adolescent Health, Professor Susan Sawyer.

Watch Penny’s Q&A.

Watch Jenny’s Q&A.

Watch Susan’s Q&A.

Audience Q&A

52 health professionals ranging from academics to nurses and practitioners attended our event. The organising committee were thrilled by the range of disciplines represented at the event.

Watch the audience Q&A.

The event was supported by the Geoff and Helen Handbury Family Trust.

The next Catalysing Connections event, titled ‘Everyone’s business: schools, mental health and learnings’ on Thursday 1st August, 5.00 to 8.00 pm, will discuss the health and education interface, and the important role schools play in adolescent (and childhood) mental health.





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