About MS Australia

Our mission is to accelerate Australian MS research toward the prevention, better treatments and a cure for MS.

Research | Advocacy | Cure

We are MS Australia, Australia’s national multiple sclerosis (MS) not-for-profit organisation that empowers researchers to identify ways to treat, prevent and cure MS, seeks sustained and systemic policy change via advocacy, and acts as the champion for Australia’s community of people affected by MS.

We are the largest Australian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to funding, coordinating, educating and advocating for MS research as part of the worldwide effort to solve MS.

Our sincere belief is that we can find ways to prevent and cure MS. Not only eradicating new diagnoses but enabling symptoms to be treated for those living with MS. Our ultimate, singular goal is to enable a world without MS.

Our influence is broad, as the expert, trusted national voice on MS to government and media, and respected supporter of MS medical research in Australia.

We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the help of our MS member organisations and you, our community. With a collective dedication to funding and progressing vital MS research and advocacy, we can together enhance and enrich our mutual work and help bring a louder voice and dynamism to the MS cause.

Our activities span

Research

We fund researchers, projects and collaborative platforms advancing research into better treatments, preventions and a cure for MS.

Advocacy

We collaborate with national alliances and lobby to the government and decision-makers about key issues for people affected by MS, including affordable and accessible treatments, increased funding for research, protection of legal rights for people with MS, and much more.

Education, Communication and Awareness

Through education we assist, inform, empower and champion the MS community, and grow positive awareness about MS and MS research to the wider community.

Support for our state and territory MS member organisations

We collaborate and represent our state and territory MS member organisations to help meet the needs of people affected with MS, their families and carers.

International Collaboration

We work with leading global bodies including the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and International Progressive MS Alliance, to advance the interests of people affected by MS and to support MS organisations around the globe.

Our state and territory MS member organisations

To help drive essential MS research and advocacy for the MS community, MS Australia supports, collaborates with and represents our state and territory MS member organisations on the national and international stages.

Our four members are:

Our member organisations provide the majority of our funding to undertake an agreed international and national MS research and advocacy agenda. They rely on MS Australia to provide the latest evidence-based information to ensure their community of people living with MS, carers, families and the wider community have the best possible information, resources and services in their own jurisdictions.

Our member organisations are essential to the work we do at MS Australia. Each member organisation has nominated Directors on the MS Australia Board, Governance, Audit & Risk and National Funding Committees.

View an outline of our activities below. 
MS diagram
  • Local Advocacy
  • Support Coordination
  • Respite
  • Education
  • In-home care
  • High Support Accommodation
  • Other Neuro
  • Fundraising
  • Local Advocacy
  • Support Coordination
  • Fundraising
  • Education
  • Independent Living
  • Programs
  • Other Neuro
  • Respite
  • Education
  • Wellbeing support
  • Support coordination
  • Community inclusion
  • Therapy services
  • Peer support
  • Programs
  • Fundraising
  • Fundraising
  • Support Coordination
  • Respite
  • Education
  • Independent
  • Living
  • Programs
  • Wellbeing Programs
  • Local Advocacy

Our Key Achievements

Over $47 million invested into MS research

MS Australia has invested millions into funding and facilitating MS research in Australia and around the globe. We are the largest funder of MS research in Australia.

Supporting the growth of Australian MS research

MS Australia’s funding has supported the growth of Australian MS research, including 26 new research methods, 7 new clinical blood tests, 2 new clinical assessment tools, 18 grants contributed to biobanks, 5 new mouse models, 5 new biomarkers being developed, 7 grants led to the creation of registries and 5 patents.

Successfully advocating for affordable treatment options for people with MS

Our advocacy efforts have helped 15 treatments be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), making them more affordable and accessible for people with MS. In 2006, there were only 2 treatments available.

Funded over 327 MS research grants

Our funding program supports Australian MS researchers who are working towards better treatments, preventions and a cure for MS. We have funded over 327 research grants from over 59 universities and institutions around Australia.

Received industry awards

Received over 15 industry awards recognising outstanding organisational and campaign achievements including the Telstra Business Awards and Australian Charity Awards.

Growth of Investment into MS Research ($ millions)

Awards

Our History

MS Australia has been improving the lives of people living with or affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) for nearly 50 years.

In 1972, following years of discussion about the need for an organisation to drive awareness, research and support for people living with MS, the state MS organisations formed the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia (NMSSA). 

During these early years there was quick recognition of the need for a focus on MS research. In 1977, the National Medical Research Advisory Board (MRAB) established a research fund and six years later, this became the National MS Research Foundation (NMSRF).

In 1999, thanks to the work of (then) Chair John Studdy, the National MS Society of Australia had experienced a long period of growth and changed its name to MS Australia – the organisation we are known as today, providing a national voice for the MS community. 

During this period of growth in the 1990s, our member organisations contributed a portion of their turnover to the MS Australia research fund, which reached $817,000 in 1995. This funding formed the basis of our research grants program – funding a wide range of Australian MS research projects.

In addition to advancing research funding, MS Australia was charged with undertaking systemic advocacy on a range of issues at the national level that could not be easily undertaken by the state member organisations, who work primarily within their own state or territory jurisdictions. 

It wasn’t until 2004 that MS Research Australia was born (a more established version of the National MS Research Foundation). As a subsidiary of MS Australia, the overall aim of our research arm was to substantially increase available funding and focus the national MS research effort. By 2005-2006, a $1 million increase in new MS research funding exceeded all expectations. By 2007-2008, the allocation increased to $2 million.

Our research arm continued to progressively increase the commitment to MS research, launching the community fundraising program, Kiss Goodbye to MS, in 2012. The Kiss Goodbye to MS community rapidly grew and in 2019, the virtual fitness and fundraising event, The May 50K, was born. Since inception, The May 50K has raised over $13.9 million in Australia and $17.3 million globally to accelerate MS research. 

In 2020, after consultations with governance experts, it was recommended that MS Research Australia and MS Australia become one entity to ensure we could better meet the needs of Australians living with MS, their carers and families. The amalgamated entity remains committed to funding and facilitating MS research as well as advocating for systemic policy change to improve the lives of people affected by MS.

MS Australia is now the largest not-for-profit funder of MS research in the country, with over $47 million invested in vital MS research. 

MS Australia continues to advocate across the health, disability and aged care sectors, analysing and responding to the impact of government policies and initiatives and seeking to improve all aspects of the lives of people affected by MS. 

Through MS Australia, Australians living with and affected by MS are actively and directly influencing the country’s research agenda – to accelerate research toward the better treatments, preventions and ultimately a cure for MS.

Timeline

1972
National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia formed to drive awareness, research and support for people living with MS
1975
National Medical Research Advisory Board formed to increase funding of MS research projects
1977
First Research Fund founded by the National Medical Research Advisory Board
1979
John Studdy appointed chairman of National MS Society of Australia
1983
National MS Research Foundation established
1990s
State and territory MS member organisations contributed a portion of their turnover to the Research Fund
1995
Amount contributed to the Research Fund reached $817,000, to fund a broad range of projects
1999
National MS Society of Australia changed its name to MS Australia and became known as the organisation we are today
1999
Inaugural John Studdy Award established, which is still being awarded today to recognise outstanding service and contributions to the MS community
2001
Australian MS Longitudinal Study founded, which is now the longest running MS longitudinal study
2002
Research arm concept of MS Australia discussions commenced, to further enhance and coordinate national MS research efforts
2004
MS Research Australia was officially established, with Simon McKeon as inaugural Chairman and Jeremy Wright as first Executive Director
2005-2006
Investment into MS research increased to $1 million
2007-2008
Investment into MS research increased to $2 million, a fivefold increase since the establishment of MS Research Australia
2008
MS Brain Bank launched as a joint venture between MS Research Australia and the University of Sydney, to aid MS research by providing high quality human brain tissue
2010
The first Australian MS Clinical Trials Network launched, along with a dedicated website listing all available MS trials across Australia and New Zealand
2012
MS Research Australia launched the community fundraising program, Kiss Goodbye to MS to raise vital funds for MS research
2012
MS Australia conducted a successful medical energy rebate campaign to ensure people with MS across Australia received discounted energy bills for medical cooling and heating
2013
Vitamin D MS Prevention Clinical Trial (PrevANZ), the largest of its type in the world, recruited participants to bring together evidence on the role of vitamin D in MS
2013
Federal Government established the National Disability Insurance Scheme, after many years of advocacy campaigns by MS Australia and other peak disability organisations
2016
Kiss Goodbye to MS launched globally, with nine countries joining the campaign
2019
Kiss Goodbye to MS launched The May 50K campaign, with 9,200+ participants raising over $2.1 million to fund vital MS research
2019
MS Australia and MS Research Australia successfully advocated for the first ever treatment for secondary progressive MS to be made available in Australia
2020
The May 50K campaign had a record-breaking year, with 35,000+ people raising over $6.6 million
2020
MS Australia and MS Research Australia successfully advocated for the first ever treatment for secondary progressive MS to be made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
2021
MS Australia and MS Research Australia amalgamated to become one organisation, to increase the commitment to MS research via funding and advocacy efforts to improve the lives of people living with MS
The Future
As the national peak body for people living with MS, MS Australia is committed to accelerating Australian MS research and advocacy, seeking sustained and systemic policy change, and empowering MS researchers to identify better treatments, preventions and a cure for MS
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About MS Australia