This week has seen some notable and encouraging news that I thought appropriate to share with the MS community in a short and sweet blog update:
Back to the future with the NDIS
The newly formed Abbott Coalition Government has made their first foray into disability services policy by dropping the polarising DisabilityCare Australia branding from the National Insurance Disability Scheme. Instead the scheme and the governing agency will revert back to their original titles the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Without reading too much into the first few weeks of the Abbott Government the Coalition policy platform indicates not only their bipartisan support for the NDIS but also that they will endeavour to adhere to the rollout timeframe for the NDIS the former Labour Government outlined.
Abbott was always outspoken of his opposition to the DisabilityCare Australia branding and he has certainly wasted no time in acting on this.
I am looking forward to getting an opportunity to meet with new members of the Coalition Cabinet – Peter Dutton in the Health Portfolio and Senator Mitch Fifield in the Assistant Social Services role who has key oversight of the NDIS rollout – in coming weeks to discuss our role as an organisation and the immediate priority areas for people with MS.
I have certainly been encouraged by their interaction with MS Australia prior to entering Government. Minister Dutton even went to the extraordinary length of recording a personal greeting and message for attendants at the MSA National Advocates Conference in July.
Tim Ferguson Book Launch
Without a doubt one of the most pleasing aspects of my current role is getting to meet and hear from some truly inspiring individuals who are part of the MS community. Tim Ferguson is one such remarkable man who has always impressed me with his honest and at times humorous account of life with MS.
I know I’m not the only one who remembers Tim’s early energetic and innovative performances as a member of the Doug Anthony All-Stars. Recent generations would be more familiar with his work in the 90’s cult game show ‘Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush’. MS has had an impact on Tim and today he might struggle to relive these performances but he has not lost any of his flair. This week Tim has been busy on the promotional trail of his new book ‘Carry a Big Stick’ and his articulate account of how his life has changed with MS has been fascinating to watch.
Not one to rest or to let his diagnosis get in the way of his goals. Tim recently ran for a NSW Senate spot for the Senator Online Party in the Federal Election. Unfortunately he wasn’t successful but you only have to see the strength of his character in coming out to talk so openly about MS and his life with the disease to know that he will continue to hold court in some form or another in the future. We truly hope at MS Australia that this can be in a more official capacity but I don’t want to get ahead of myself there!!!
Botox Treatment for Urinary Incontinence
2013 has been an encouraging year with a number of new medications and treatments coming to market and giving people with MS and their doctors more choice and options in selecting the model of care that best meets their needs. Next week in good news for people with MS who experience bladder and incontinence issues, Botox will be available on the PBS.
MS Australia’s view has always been that provided the efficacy and effectiveness of a treatment has been reviewed and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration it should be made more widely available to people with MS so we are thrilled that Botox will now be subsidised.
The treatment is only really used as a fall back option if patients reject more common urinary incontinence treatments but at the very least people with MS who do suffer from bladder control issues may get some relief through access to Botox.
MSA Website launch
This week we received the first draft of the new look MS Australia website. Our current website, whilst it may have some informative content is a little bland and quite frankly not as responsive as we would like it to be to match our plans in the communications and advocacy space. So for the last few months we have been working behind the scenes to develop a slightly refreshed, simpler and more engaging website that will be able to link in well with our social media presence. Shortly, we will work closely with members of the MS community to test the site and hopefully in the next month or so we will be ready to unveil it.