Our #Campaignforpain calls for the Federal Government to lead a whole-of-community approach to address chronic pain—Australia's most neglected health problem.
Chronic pain affects one in five Australians, including children and adolescents, and one in three over 65—more than 3.5 million people.
Untreated chronic pain affects people's ability to work and study, their relationships, mental health and emotional wellbeing—yet up to 80 percent are missing out on treatment because of lack of access to effective services.
There is no Federal Government funding for chronic pain, and young people are particularly disadvantaged—with only 12 paediatric pain specialists and 6 dedicated paediatric pain clinics in just 4 states, for the whole of Australia.
We are calling on the Australian Government to lead a whole-of-community approach to implement the National Pain Strategy
and ensure every Australian can access a pain service in their local area—
without waiting until it's too late.
We ask the Federal Government to:
- Lead a community-wide campaign to raise awareness and remove the stigma of chronic pain
- Provide Medicare support for a Chronic Pain Care Plan for delivery by accredited practitioners
- Support provision of group education programs to give people the knowledge they need to self-manage pain
We need your support to help us make this a reality.
I was 14 when overnight I developed a sharp stabbing pain in the centre of my abdomen. After about 12 months, it became constant, severe pain, 24/7. I'd rate it 8-10 out of 10, all the time. My GP sent me for scans and blood tests. He sent me to different specialists. But nothing showed up, and no one knew what to do with me. Some doctors told me I was pretending. It made me worry more, to have no diagnosis and no way to address what was going on. I missed three terms of Year 8 and a lot of Year 9. I missed social activities. I had to give up sport. Some days I didn't even want to get out of bed, and I became depressed. It took two years to find a gastroenterologist who acknowledged my pain was real, and was ready to help me. It was the first time I felt validated and taken seriously. I ended up with a diagnosis of Chronic Abdominal Pain Syndrome. It's a condition with no cure. My specialist sent me to a paediatric pain clinic, where I was given the right help to develop strategies to manage the pain. Due to what I've learned, today my life is different. There are lots of young people like me, who are living with chronic pain, but don't have access to the kind of services and support I found. I'm sharing my story to help them.
The pain in my right foot started five years ago, when I was 11. I always thought pain is something that goes away. I didn't know there was a thing called chronic pain. Over time the pain became more severe. I wasn't sure how to cope with it. I was very confused. It took 18 months to get a diagnosis. I saw 11 different health professionals and had so many unanswered questions. At school I was always the girl with a boot on her foot, or on crutches, and it made me the target for bullies. Teachers weren't very supportive either. They called me an OH&S problem because of the crutches, which meant staying home for a whole term. It was a very isolating, lonely time. I also felt drowsy and unwell, due to the painkillers I was taking. And I had to give up competitive swimming. It took until I was 14 to find the right help, at a pain management clinic at the Children's Hospital Westmead. The clinic taught me many new techniques to manage the pain without painkillers, and changed my perspective of pain. Today I still live with pain. But I've learned to cope with it, and live my life despite it. I think we need greater awareness of chronic pain in Australia and in our schools, so that kids can get the support they need, and don't have to go through what I went through.