September 2020

New NPS MedicineWise program - Dementia and changed behaviour: a person centred approach

Program overview

The program focuses on using a person-centred care approach when working with people experiencing changed behaviours in dementia and the limited role medicines play. The program will be delivered in both aged care and community care settings. We emphasise the importance of putting people with dementia and their carers at the centre of dementia care while also highlighting the importance of working collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary team. 

The audiences of the program include GPs, pharmacists and nurses who manage older people with dementia, both in the community and residential aged care facilities. 

Key elements of the program:

If you would like more information or would like to get involved in the program, please visit the NPS MedicineWise website or contact Kara Joyce.


Recent updates to the AIR

Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national priority. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides additional vaccines to help improve the health of Indigenous people, and close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous people in health and life expectancy.

To identify Indigenous people who may require additional vaccines, vaccination providers can now record Indigenous status directly on the AIR and it will not be over-ridden by their status recorded by Medicare. AIR Indigenous status will not be recorded on any other government database and it does not need to be the same as Medicare.  Recording an Indigenous status on the AIR helps vaccination providers to identify and give the clinically correct vaccination schedule.  Vaccination providers should seek consent from the person at the time of a vaccination encounter before recording their Indigenous status on the AIR. There is no change to how a person’s Indigenous status is recorded on the AIR.  Up to date records help determine the impact of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in preventing vaccine-preventable diseases. In turn, vaccination coverage figures and data available for research purposes become more comprehensive and reliable over time.

Catch-up schedule to display on immunisation history statement

Australian Government legislation requires children to meet immunisation requirements to be eligible for family payments (No Jab No Pay). To meet the immunisation requirements for family payments, one of the following must apply to a child:

  • be immunised according to the NIP childhood schedule

  • be on an approved catch-up vaccination schedule

  • have a valid exemption

Catch-up vaccination aims to protect people against disease as quickly as possible. It aims to help people get up to date with their vaccination schedule in the shortest, but most effective, time frame.  From February 2020, if a person is on an approved immunisation catch-up schedule registered on the AIR the:

  • catch-up schedule will display on the top of the immunisation history statement

  • date it expires will also show.

This helps give people a complete picture of their immunisation status. It gives parents and guardians evidence of a child’s vaccination status for childcare or school entry. It also lets other vaccination providers know how a person’s vaccination needs are being managed.

Amended pneumococcal rules and the introduction of reminder letters for older Australians

On 1 July 2020, the recommended age on the NIP for older Australians to receive the pneumococcal vaccine changed from 65 to 70 years. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pneumococcal is recommended from 50 years. Vaccination against shingles is still recommended for people from 70 years of age and can be administered at the same time as pneumococcal vaccine.

Note: Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccination is contraindicated in people with significant immunocompromise due to a primary or acquired medical condition, or medical treatment. Please assess your patients’ current circumstances and refer to the online Australian Immunisation Handbook for more information as to whether vaccination is appropriate.

In line with the 1 July 2020 schedule changes, Services Australia will send a reminder letter to people who are eligible for a pneumococcal and/or shingles vaccination.

Letters will be sent to:

  • people 70 years and 1 month of age who have not received pneumococcal and/or shingles vaccinations

  • people aged 50 years and 1 month displaying an Indigenous status in the AIR who have not received their pneumococcal vaccination.

These reminder letters will encourage people to contact their vaccination provider to:

  • discuss any NIP funded vaccination/s they may be eligible for

  • request the AIR be updated with any vaccines they have already received but have not been recorded on the AIR.

Update from Population Health Division | Primary and Community Care Group, Immunisation and Communicable Diseases Branch, Australian Government Department of Health

While we have seen a record number of influenza vaccines administered in 2020, there is still an opportunity to offer the vaccine to those who have not already been vaccinated this season.

It is never too late to vaccinate against influenza. Experts from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommend that vaccination should continue to be offered as long as influenza is still circulating and valid vaccines (prior to expiration date) are available. For those who have not yet received a 2020 influenza vaccine, getting vaccinated now is encouraged to provide protection during the remainder of the influenza season, the peak period of which is usually June to September in most parts of Australia.

To support awareness and continued uptake of influenza vaccination, the Department has developed the following communication resources:

We encourage you to share this advice with vaccination providers within your networks, to help ensure all people consider influenza vaccination for themselves and their families, particularly during this difficult year.


August 2020

Accessing AIR using PRODA

User guides detailing how to access AIR, the Australian Immunisation Register, using PODA, the Provider Digital Access System, are now available. 
Download the guide for organisations here.
Download the guide for individuals here.

New guide to examine clinical variation 

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has today released a new guide to support health service organisations to review clinical variation. 

The User Guide for the Review of Clinical Variation in Health Care (the User Guide) explains how organisations can implement Action 1.28 of the Clinical Governance Standard in the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards.

Action 1.28 aims to ensure that health services work with their clinicians to regularly review data collected on clinical care processes and outcomes to identify unwarranted variation. Examining variation in clinical care is one way of identifying if people are being offered appropriate care. 

Health services can use available data to identify potentially unwarranted variation and improve the appropriateness of care, which has widespread benefits for patients, their carers and families. 

The User Guide describes six key steps for implementing Action 1.28, and provides resources to support health services and their clinicians in reviewing clinical variation. It also includes practical case studies, and clinical topics for potential investigation.

Download the User Guide and share it with your health service organisation, colleagues and other healthcare professionals.

More information

For more information, visit the Healthcare Variation page on the Commission's website or contact us at: atlas@safetyandquality.gov.au

Department of Health Indigenous Pharmacy Program Communique

Changes are coming. Please  note no changes until Mid 2021. 

Read the full 2020 Communique - IPP Reforms update.

2018 Submission - ACNP Response - Policy Options for Reforming the Indigenous Pharmacy Programs

July 2020

NDSS Enhancement Project - Inclusion of Practice Nurses as Certifiers of Relevant NDSS Forms

Influenza vaccine stats

 Geographical breakdown of influenza vaccines reported to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) as at COB 05 July 2020





Provider type




5-64 years

65 years+


















Number of vaccines

1 March 2018 - 05 July 2018


1 March 2019 - 05 July 2019


1 March 2020 - 05 July 2020



NPS MedicineWise: Medicinal cannabis information portal 

For prescribers – the portal includes important resources for prescribers including full evidence summaries with links to the TGA’s clinical guidance and a flowchart for prescribers that outlines the steps to accessing medicinal cannabis.

To find out more go to https://www.nps.org.au/medicinal-cannabis

Tax Time Helper

The ATO has prepared a range of resources to assist health professionals during this period of heightened stress. These resources have been provided specifically for healthcare workers to ensure they are aware of the deductions that they can claim for and make it easier to prepare and lodge their 2020 tax return.  To find out more go to the Australian Tax Office to down load the Health Workers Guide.

June 2020

National Immunisation Program changes from 1 July 2020

From 1 July 2020, there are a number of changes to the National Immunisation Program coming into effect.

These changes are:

  • Introduction of meningococcal B vaccination and changes to meningococcal ACWY vaccination.
  • Hepatitis A vaccination schedule points for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NT, Qld, SA and WA will change in consideration of the introduction of the meningococcal B vaccine.
  • Pneumococcal vaccination schedule will change to reflect the current best clinical evidence in preventing pneumococcal disease in adults and in people with conditions that increase their risk of disease.  

The changes are being implemented following recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and other clinical experts and are designed to improve protection against meningococcal and pneumococcal disease. 

To support awareness and implementation of the changes, the Australian Government has developed a suite of educational and promotional communication resources hosted via a news item on the Department of Health’s website.

The NIP clinical advice factsheets for providers, accompanied by correspondence from the Chief Medical Officer will be mailed to GPs and Aboriginal Medical Services Australia-wide. The information notes the availability of supporting consumer resources available to download or order through the Department of Health’s website.

Summary of Opioid Changes in effect from 1 June 2020 can be found on the Opioid Restriction Changes Guide.

May 2020

As most of you are aware, the PBS changes to prescription opioids come into effect on 1 June 2020. We acknowledge that there may be media interest (such as the article in the Sydney Morning Herald this week) and your members may have questions. We have attached links to the updated TGA’s prescription opioid web content, including the information for consumers and health professionals that you helped refine.


Prescribers can now order their PBS prescription stationery through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS), which is available 24/7. To access HPOS, users will be required to create a PRODA account if they don’t already have one. The following steps to order stationery are outlined below:

  1. Log on to your PRODA account.
  2. Select go to service on the HPOS tile.
  3. Select My Programs.
  4. Select PBS stationery online ordering.

From here prescribers can:

  • place a stationery order
  • view order details
  • re-order a previous order

Ordering PBS stationery online will allow users to:

  • Order a range of products without completing multiple order forms
  • Track the progress and delivery of their order online
  • Submit the same order again to save time
  • Provide delegate access to others (e.g. practice managers) to place and manage orders on their behalf.

For more information on how to order through HPOS please visit us at our site here or read our recent news article at News for health professionals.

April 2020

Hepatitis C Treatment Nurse Practitioner s100 Prescribing

March 2020

AIHW release: Coordination of health care: experiences of barriers to accessing health services among patients aged 45 and over

Changes to Antibiotic Listings on the PBS 

As indicated in the previous emails below, please be advised that changes to antibiotic listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will commence on 1 April 2020. The changes were recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) in August 2019 to support best practice prescribing in Australia.  For more information on the changes to the PBS, please visitpbs.gov.au/info/news/2020/03/revised_pbs_listings_for_antibiotic_use_from_1_april_2020.  If you have any further questions on the changes, please contact the PBS Information Line on 1800 020 613 or via email atpbs@health.gov.au

February 2020

Immunisation - Childhood Immunisation Education Campaign 2020.docx

Diabetes -  Changes to the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Initiative - 2020 CGM changes