In addition to facilitating vital support services, MS Queensland works to raise awareness of the key issues facing people living with MS. Our goal is to advocate, educate and provide information to government, the community and corporations.
MS Queensland has a number of Advocates who represents the interests of the MS community and champion policy issues, to encourage commitment from stakeholders to our goals. Nationally, our MS Advocates work together with members of Federal and State Governments to highlight a number of issues which are listed below.
MS AUSTRALIA POLICY ISSUES 2012-13
- National Disability Insurance Scheme
- Employment participation
- Energy use and climate change
- Assistive technology
- Universal housing design
- Better support for carers
- Improving health and community services
- MS research
NATIONAL DISABILITY INSURANCE SCHEME (NDIS)
The NDIS has been passed in Parliament providing people with disability, wherever they live with choice and control over the care and support they receive and comfort to all Australians in the event that they may acquire a significant and permanent disability.
The implementation of the NDIS will provide the chance for true change in the lives of people living with disability, their families and carers. It has been made clear that people with degenerative conditions – like multiple sclerosis, which are likely to require support over the age of 65, if their condition progresses – may be able to enter the scheme through the early intervention criteria before they turn 65.
The passing of the NDIS in parliament establishes the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the NDIS Launch Transition Agency to deliver the launch of the scheme.
In preparation and planning for Queensland’s transition to the NDIS, the Queensland Government has established the Queensland NDIS Planning and Implementation Group, whose members include people with a disability, families, carers, the sector and government for the NDIS. More information can be found by clicking here.
The Government has also announced the name for the scheme – DisabilityCare Australia. Don’t forget you can play an important part in the DisabilityCare Australia development by contributing to NDIS Your Say at www.ndis.gov.au/talking-about-ndis/yoursay/
We encourage everyone to ensure their voice is heard during this critical development time of the scheme. Whilst the final introduction of DisabilityCare Australia may seem some time away, it is vital that this new very complex system is given proper time and investment to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved and the varying needs of the disability community as a whole are identified and appropriately catered for throughout a person’s life.
For more information regarding the NDIS Bill visit www.ndis.gov.au.
We will continue to provide monthly updates on the developments until it becomes a reality for all - click here to view our monthly updates.
Employment is a key contributor to quality of life for people with chronic illness. With the average age of diagnosis at 30, people with MS have built significant skills and experience during their career that they want to continue to build. However between 50 – 80% of people living with MS are unemployed within 10 years of diagnosis and over 500,000 workers are lost from the labour force due to chronic illness each year.
To further highlight this critical issue for people living with multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological diseases MS Queensland seeks to gather further support and understanding from key stakeholders and decision makers.
In March 2011, MS Queensland brought together key stakeholders and key members of State and Federal Government to host its first Employment Roundtable. In December 2012 MS Queensland hosted their second Employment Roundtable on the Sunshine Coast to further highlight this issue and share information regarding Employment for people with a disability in regional areas of Queensland.
At both forums discussion focused on promoting awareness amongst key decision makers and stakeholders of the ongoing need to address issues relating to employment retention and chronic illness; share perspectives and ideas with key decision makers and stakeholders; and highlight specific policy opportunities identified by MS Queensland.
The gathering of key stakeholders provided an opportunity to share the policies and support that is available from the Federal and State Governments and various employment bodies to maintain employees with a chronic illness in work. For further information regarding the Employment Roundtable Discussions, please click here.
ENERGY USE AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession
In 2009 and continuing into 2010 MS Queensland led an extensive campaign with strong targeted support of the MS Community and the Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Alliance and together achieved the introduction of a new electricity rebate for low-income Queenslanders with multiple sclerosis, and other chronic illness conditions that require the use of electricity for cooling and heating.
In the 2010/2011 Queensland State Government Budget the government dedicated $6.7 million over four years to the Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession scheme. This campaign was greatly assisted by the letters that individuals took the time to write to their local MPs, sharing their stories of living with MS and the costs that are incurred to keep cool. MS Queensland lobbied for several months with Rights in Action, Parkinson’s Queensland, the Queensland Council of Social Services, Spinal Injuries Association and other organisations.
For more details about the concession, click here.
What is the Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession?
From July 1, the $216 annual rebate will help people with MS meet the energy costs incurred as a result of their condition. It is in addition to the existing electricity rebate for pensioners, which has also increased to $216.
Why is it needed?
About 90 per cent of people with MS are heat intolerant and their symptoms can increase significantly if they get too hot. Out of necessity, people with MS use air-conditioners almost 15 times more than the average Australian. The cost of doing so is very high.
Are you eligible?
To find out if you qualify for the Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession, please read the government’s information sheet.
How do you claim the concession?
Applicants must have a medical condition requiring cooling or heating to prevent the symptoms of their condition worsening. They must also hold a Pensioner concession card or a current Health Care card. The concession commences on July 1, 2010.
Clean Energy Future
Raising awareness of issues that affect people living with MS is on-going and must be kept up-to-date in our fluid political environment. MS Australia worked with the Federal Government when the Carbon Tax was being introduction to ensure people with a medical need to keep cool did not incur extra costs for using their medical equipment under a carbon price. As a result, a Federal Rebate is also available for people with essential medical equipment needs for people holding a Commonwealth concession card and must rely on essential equipment. To check other concessions that you may be eligible for click here.
Our MS Ambassadors share their experiences of living with MS and help to educate the local communities in which they live. Our Ambassadors are inspirational speakers who share with their audiences an intimate knowledge of MS and the impact it has had on their lives. This group of passionate volunteers makes a significant and valuable contribution. MS Ambassadors play a vital role in building relationships between MS Queensland and corporate and community organisations. If you would like to express interest in becoming an MS Ambassador, please call us on 1800 177 591.