Full steam ahead

Honestly, over the last few weeks I feel like the small but energetic MSA team have been buzzing around like one of Bruce Frost’s bee hives !!! (Bruce is one of our National Advocates on the NSW South Coast ).

It’s been an enjoyable but challenging few weeks and now seems like the perfect opportunity to acknowledge all that’s been achieved and what lies ahead.

As most companies feel some degree of “extra workload” around this time of year, MSA as a statutory authority is not exempt and we have just completed our end of financial year reporting. This has been a huge challenge for our new finance team, who have had to produce not only our end of year financial report, but also work with external auditors, prepare information for the MSA Board Audit & Risk Committee and keep their CEO informed of goings on!

I’m particularly grateful for this work as it is a vital part of our standing as a trusted, transparent organisation.

Our communications and advocacy efforts have also been ticking along. This week we’ve had a fantastic opportunity to gather members of the MS community for a photo-shoot that will form a significant part of our upcoming annual report and also our soon to be launched new MSA website. It was a fantastic occasion and everyone was in high spirits and we look forward to sharing the shots with you soon.

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A sneak peek behind the scenes at the recent MSA photo-shoot. Researchers and fundraisers joined people with MS in taking part.

We’ve also been progressing issues on the advocacy front. For those interested, we’ve posted an update to advocacy efforts on the MSA website. This line of work will hopefully give some indication of the issues we are happy to take on on behalf of the MS community. They are certainly diverse and wide ranging but all extremely important.

Personally I’ve been here there and everywhere in the last few weeks.

I was privileged to share a role on the ‘Final Panel’ with four other guests at the National Palliative Care Conference in Canberra a few weeks ago. As the only non-Academic on the panel I felt a little like a fish out of water but I was happy to offer a different perspective to the others. When I was asked what I thought should change in Palliative Care in order to make it ‘everyone’s business’ I took the position that RESPECT was so important. In managing people through the latter stages of life we need to have respect for life, death and quality of living. We need to respect people’s cultural views, living choices and lifestyle wishes. We need to respect the work done by so many in relation to the MS and broader neurological communities and in particular, respect the carers and volunteers who offer and give so much support.

Last week I was a little further north, having been invited to be a panellist at Commonwealth Bank’s ‘Women in Focus’ Conference in Queensland.

The conference focused on policy influence and social consciousness and to be part of such a significant group, full of quite amazing women in business, IT, banking, health, self-starters and not-for-profits was incredibly humbling.

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Taking part in the panel discussion

Next week the activity continues. I look forward some professional visits in the UK on my way to the ECTRIMS conference, where I will meet up with Dr Elizabeth McDonald. Following on we will attend this year’s International MS Conference hosted by the German MS Association in Berlin. MSA has been successful in having 3 abstracts accepted to present at this conference and we will deliver 3 workshops.

MSA representatives will be presenting to our international colleagues about some important issues and how we manage these in Australia, outlining how we deliver employment and workplace support, the intricacies of delivering support to people in rural and regional areas as well as an overview of MS Research Australia’s ground breaking longitudinal study.

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Attending the Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus conference

Following that I will represent MSA and Australia at the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) meeting. Such meetings as MSIF and ECTRIMS are vital for Australia to stay connected with our global colleagues, share our work and represent our profile amongst our contemporaries and ensure we keep abreast of work done by others.

So we’ve certainly been full steam ahead and firing on all cylinders in recent weeks but it has all proved to be a fantastic platform to help raise the profile of MSA and to communicate the needs of people with MS and our member based organisations to stakeholders.

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