The MS community is watching the change in Australian Government leadership with great interest and cautious optimism. We are optimistic about the fresh approach that any change in leadership can bring about, and our caution is that we are hoping for not just a change in style but a change in substance.
For example, we are keen to see a renewed commitment by the Government to rolling out the NDIS in full and on time. This would quash any rumblings we’ve heard recently to the contrary. Likewise we are looking for a commitment to ensuring the most vulnerable and disadvantaged are treated fairly and equitably through tax reform, pensions and benefits.
We are looking for action in the policy space to ensure far more integration between the health care and disability care systems, so that, for example, people with MS over 65 with a disability have access to adequate levels of reasonable and necessary supports and young people with MS are only admitted to residential care after all other possible supports are exhausted.
We are also looking for action on employment policy to ensure people with chronic conditions such as MS can stay in employment for as long as possible and feel supported and valued. If the new PM and undoubtedly a new Treasurer attempt to deliver a budget before going to an election, we would want to make sure they have learnt the lessons of the past and not introduce unfair, inequitable mechanisms such as Medicare co-payments or make accessing the disability pension more difficult - we want people coping with a chronic illness to be treated fairly and equitably.
The establishment of the Medical Research Future Fund was a great cause for optimism in the MS community as a large number of researchers are working hard to find a cure for MS. We are especially keen to hear how the funds from the Medical Research Future Fund will be distributed.
Given the new PM has already paid the MS organisations some attention by generously giving us his time and support at an MS research fundraising event earlier this year, we look forward to working with him and his Ministers and advisers in the future, to improve the wellbeing of people living with MS and, ultimately, to find a cure.