Australians living with multiple sclerosis will be represented by a single national body after the MS Australia Board endorsed an independent expert’s recommendation to bring MS Australia and its research subsidiary MS Research Australia closer together.
Given the tough operating market for not-for-profits following a series of major structural and regulatory reforms, the MS Australia Board requested the governance review to identify ways to better meet the current and future needs of people living with MS.
Associate Professor Des Graham, MS Australia’s President, said MS Australia needed to evolve to be as successful in the future as it has been in the past.
“MS organisations must speak with one voice whether it is about care, research or advocacy – too often in the past, we have competed against each other to deliver our common goals,” he said.
“It is critical that every dollar we spend supports the current and future needs of Australians living with MS and research. We must move to a structure that allows us to operate in the most efficient way and delivers the care, research and advocacy that people living with MS deserve.”
Effective Governance, the pre-eminent governance advisory firm in Australia, reviewed MS Australia’s operations and provided recommendations to strengthen the operation of the organisation, including:
- Formally bringing together MS Australia and MS Research Australia as a fully integrated organisation under one CEO and Board;
- Undertaking a recruitment process to identify a CEO to head the newly focussed MS Australia;
- Moving to ensure the MSA Board reflects the necessary skills to reflect MS Australia’s priorities – care, research and advocacy, as well as other governance requirements; and
- Reviewing MS Australia’s 2020 – 2025 strategic plan.
Associate Professor Graham said the changes would make it a stronger and more efficient organisation but would not change MS Australia’s commitment to supporting people living with multiple sclerosis or research.
“MS Australia and the state and territory MS societies will continue to engage with people living with MS, their families and carers); the research community; and other partners and supporters as we always have – with a focus on delivering improved outcomes and ensuring a better quality of life for those living with MS,” Associate Professor Graham said.
“We remain committed to increasing funding for MS research to record levels and providing certainty to our researchers around their research and career paths. The highly regarded governance and processes provided by the Research Management Council which overseas research strategy and funding allocations will continue to operate in the way it always has.”
Under its new governance model, MS Australia will be responsible for national and international relations while the state and territory MS societies will be responsible for fundraising within the states and territories.