From 12-14 October, MS Australia held its annual National Advocates Conference in Canberra. A total of 11 Advocates joined forces to advance MSA’s advocacy priorities for the upcoming year while also meeting with key policy makers to profile issues currently facing more than 23,000 Australians living with the condition.
The event got off to an interesting start as participants came together to learn about how the NDIS is changing the way people access disability services and support in Australia and to discuss how the scheme is helping people living with MS.
Advocates then broke off into groups to discuss a number of key issues that MSA will be campaigning on in the lead up to the Federal Election in 2016. This was followed by a number of workshops led by Political adviser John Wheelan which focused on what advocates and organisations need in place to campaign successfully and affect the kind of change we want to see in Government.
A particular highlight of the conference was the Parliamentary Friends of MS (PFMS) morning tea which was held in Parliament House and hosted by Co-chair, Senator Deborah O’ Neill. The event lifted the lid on the invisible symptoms people with MS live with on a daily basis and saw some of the Advocates sharing their own experiences with Senators, MPs, and their staff.
During the course of the moring it was great to hear from Co-chair Senator David Bushby who highlighted the importance of the work of the Advocates in affecting positive change around issues relevant to the needs of the MS community.
A special thanks to Biogen, Genzyme and Novartis for their sponsorship of the 2015 National Advocates Conference.