For the past few weeks, MS Australia and our national advocates have been promoting our seven-point policy plan to the major parties and their candidates for the federal election. Three issues stand out.
- First, we are keen to see further investment in MS research. We acknowledge the recent, much welcomed commitment of $22m for MS research made by the Federal Government. We are urging all major parties to build on this ground-breaking investment.
- Second, we are urging the major parties to commit to the reform of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and to make access easier for those who need it. We also need the major parties to commit to abandoning the arbitrary cut off to the NDIS for those over the age of 65. Instead, we are keen for all people living with MS to be registered with the NDIS on diagnosis, even if they never need access to a package. But if they do, this should be facilitated, regardless of the age at which the need becomes evident.
- Third, we are keen to see a small, $5m annual investment to reverse the decline in the number of MS Nurses and add a further 50 nurses so that as many people as possible living with MS can gain access to their life-changing care. Our recent MS Nurses report provides the evidence that access to an MS Nurse not only improves health outcomes for people with MS, it actually saves money for governments as well.
Whatever the outcome of the election on May 21, we acknowledge the support MS has had from politicians across the political divide, from the Prime Minister right the way through to backbenchers completing their first term of office. In particular, we thank the two co-chairs of our Parliamentary Friendship Group, Senator Wendy Askew, a Liberal Senator for Tasmania, and Senator Deb O’Neill, a Labor Senator for New South Wales. They have worked together seamlessly to support people living with MS. There is, as they say, no rest for the wicked. As soon as the election is done and dusted, we will once again be knocking on doors and engaging with decision-makers and parliamentarians, asking for fresh commitments to policies and funding that will improve the lives of everyone living with MS, their families friends and carers, and helping us to super–charge MS research so that we can bring that cure closer.
And while the election is underway, we have also been wearing out our shoe leather, not only meeting candidates, but also putting in the miles for our biggest annual fundraiser for MS research – The May 50K. I have – I’m pleased to report – survived my first-ever marathon (I’m not really sure how) and am now committed to completing 200km in May to help raise funds for the world-class work undertaken by Australian MS researchers. Thank you for your on–going support and commitment to The May 50K! If you’d like to participate or support our fundraisers as they go beyond their limits, please follow this link. And a special shout out to former West Coast Eagles player, Ashley Sampi, who has made his MS journey public only recently, and has signed up to The May 50K with a big and committed team supporting him. Ashley and TeamSampi are making a fantastic contribution to help us all put MS where it belongs – behind us.