Polio survivor Joan and her husband, Graeme, are travelling from Victoria to add their voices to our Election Campaign in Canberra on Wednesday 26th June 2013. Joan contracted polio in Melbourne in 1952 when she was 3 years old.

What is a memorable childhood experience?

Extended stays in hospital as a young child, isolated from family, school holiday stays at Lady Dugan Red Cross Home in Malvern for rehabilitation, including new plasters, physiotherapy and splint adjustments, and being strapped into the Thomas splint every night until I was sixteen. There was no consideration of privacy or dignity in our treatment which made the whole process quite humiliating.

How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?

I was forced into early retirement at age fifty-one, and forced to move house for easier access (twice). I have had to return to using mobility aids – an ankle/foot orthotic and, for extended walks such as shopping centres or steeper inclines, a motorised scooter. I also experience chronic pain and significant fatigue.

Why are you going to Canberra?

We have to educate our politicians about the issues and needs of polio survivors today. Polio Australia funding is urgently needed to advocate and educate our medical providers, the wider community and even polio survivors ourselves, in order to obtain appropriate support to maintain as much independence as possible. Funding providers need to understand that while post polio syndrome occurs later in life it is not a normal part of ageing, and aged care assistance doesn’t cover the associated costs. It is an on-going and degenerative disability.

Please send Joan a message of support for her Canberra campaign by making a comment below.


Joan Smith ~ Polio 1952 ~ Canberra Campaign Hero — 2 Comments

  1. Hear, Hear! Forceful words appropriate to troubled times. Joan, I can see you now in front of the Senators in Canberra with them quaking in their boots as you take on Nancy Sinatra’s lyrics, “These boots are made for walkin’ and that’s just what they’ll do, one of these days these boots are goin’ to walk right over you”. That day is soon approaching, the 26th June. Ageing senators, be prepared to meet your Maker. Joan is going to introduce you to the reality of ageing polio style.

  2. Many thanks Joan for being in Canberra to campaign for us. Your comments state our case very well. We can’t keep going without help. There are too many issues and it is exhausting to stay independent and it is costly. Having to get the message of what is entailed out there again and again, especially with the medical and allied health professions. We need an education campaign. Not being eligible for DisabilityCare is another hurdle we didn’t expect. Aged Care will not meet the needs of polios. It is something else on top of aging, being chronic and degenerative.

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