Our AGM was an important forum for Painaustralia and our supporters starting with a very powerful message from Sister Mary-Lynne Cochrane about what it means to live with pain every day.
It was fitting then that Minister for Health Greg Hunt would announce funding for Painaustralia to deliver a national action plan on chronic pain management as well as highlighting a number of key initiatives that the Government is leading in the pain research and management areas. We look forward to working with the Government, our members and stakeholders to make this important work a reality.
Our national patron Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret'd) followed with his insightful and poignant presentation about the importance of addressing pain, drawing on some stories from his work with military personnel as Chief of the Australian Defence Force as well as that of his own son who has experienced a debilitating pain condition for many years.
Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King, while offering bipartisan support to a national approach to pain, noted that for the first time the ALP has put pain into its draft national platform.
These are significant results for an area that hasn’t seen major support from successive governments who have often championed single focus chronic conditions over the more systemic and complex broader issues including pain. It is a welcome and important step forward towards acknowledging that most chronic health conditions do not occur in isolation and pain is a common theme in many, and often as a condition in its own right. This is consistent with the Government’s own Framework for the Management of Chronic Conditions.
May was Budget month, and we welcomed the focus on endometriosis education and some other initiatives that will make a difference for people living with pain. And Palliative Care Week provided an opportunity to reflect on the importance of pain management at the end of life.
Finally there has been much activity on the policy front with Painaustralia presenting to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Sport Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities this month. With up to 80 per cent of aged care residents experiencing pain at any given time, it seems remiss that there is such limited awareness, education and training in the aged care sector. We hope this Inquiry might put pain firmly on the agenda.
The Management and Treatment of Opioid Dependence was the focus of a forum attended by Painaustralia and hosted by Harm Reduction Australia and Scriptwise this month. We will continue our involvement in this issue in the coming months including our response, for example, to the Penington Institute review of existing publicly funded take-home naloxone (THN) programs and the TGA’s forum in Melbourne on 1 June on S8 Strong Opioid Consultation.
I would like to thank our many members, partners and sponsors who provide their expertise and time to supporting our work. Many travelled to attend our AGM in Canberra. We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful people involved in our organisation without which we would not exist.