This website is dedicated to Australia’s tens of thousands of polio survivors and their families. The polio “heroes” below were pictured at Polio Australia’s first “We’re Still Here!” campaign visit to Parliament House in October 2012, during national Polio Awareness Month. You can read all about the visit in this special edition of our monthly e-Bulletin Reflections.
Delegates from Polio Australia have become regular lobbyists on behalf of Australia’s polio survivors since our first visit in 2007. 2014 will be the third consecutive year that our delegation of polio “campaign heros” have converged on parliament in Canberra to ask the Australian Government to recognise the Late Effects of Polio, the need for federal healthcare funding to help polio survivors today, and to remind them that “We’re Still Here”.
And yet . . . there is still no commitment to funding any support or any information services for polio survivors.
So why do we keep going? And what good will it do?
There has actually been some progress from all this ‘profile raising’:
- Polio Australia’s lobbying resulted in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing holding a Roundtable Forum on the Late Effects of Polio / Post-Polio Syndrome in March 2012.
- Polio Australia was invited to give both written and verbal evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012 (NDIS) – in our submissions we deplored the injustice for polio survivors of the age 65 cut off.
- Polio Australia’s publication The Late Effects of Polio: Introduction to Clinical Practice was launched by the Hon Catherine King, one of our Parliamentary Patrons, who also accepted a Petition addressed to the Minister for Health (Please fund services for polio survivors, who form the largest single physical disability group in the country. Funding is urgently required to ensure that polio survivors are provided with the support and specialised services they need to be diagnosed, treated, and assisted to manage the complex and debilitating symptoms they are now experiencing. Polio Australia also requires funding to continue providing support, information and education to polio survivors, health professionals and the community.).
- There are now numerous references in Hansard and the media regarding Australian polio survivors and the lack of appropriate services.
The three recommendations resulting from the 2012 Roundtable Forum were:
The Committee recommends that the Australian Bureau of Statistics and/or the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare establish mechanisms through inclusion of appropriate questions in existing health and/or disability surveys to estimate and report on the size of the population of polio survivors living in Australia, and the proportion of that population experiencing the late effects of polio/post-polio syndrome.
The Committee recommends that the relevant National Boards, in consultation with key stakeholders including peak professional bodies, medical/health educators and training providers, seek to ensure curricula for students includes information on the late effects of polio/post-polio syndrome, to raise awareness of the condition as a possible diagnostic outcome and of best practice for treatment and management.
The Committee recommends that Medicare Locals actively engage with Polio Australia and the state-based post-polio associations, with state and territory government departments of health, and with general practitioners to promote activities which will raise awareness of the late effects of polio/post-polio syndrome:
- among practicing health professionals through continuing professional development; and
- in the community through patient education, noting the need to tailor communication to enhance engagement with specific population groups taking into account demographic factors such as age and cultural background.
It’s clear that Polio Australia is the ONLY organisation that can drive these recommendations, as well as achieving all the other support and information services we know are vital to make a positive contribution to the health and well-being of Australia’s post-polio community.
We now need all Australian polio survivors to ask your Federal Parliamentary representative to support turning the above recommendations into action, and to ensure that the work being done by Polio Australia receives long-overdue recognition and funding.
Together, and with the persistence that the polio community is renowned for, we can make a difference!