The Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group will be co-chaired by David Smith MP and Senator Wendy Askew. The friendship group will be a non-partisan group that is open to all Senators and Members.
Senator Wendy Askew Chair of Community Affairs Legislation Committee Deputy Chair of Community Affairs References Committee Party Liberal Party of Australia
Mr David Smith MP Member for Bean, Australian Capital Territory Australian Labor Party
Speaking on the launch of the friendship group Co-chair Senator Askew said, “Chronic pain exacts a large toll on individuals and our communities – health, social and financial. I am pleased to say that the Morrison Government has committed to making this a priority health issue with funding for the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management and implementation of some key actions such as a community awareness and education program, health professional education and training and take home naloxone to reduce the risks associated with opioid related overdoses. I am looking forward to working with Painaustralia and my parliamentary colleagues to lead practical solutions to this complex condition.”
Co-chair David Smith MP notes that, “I am delighted to be co-chair of this important group. I know within my electorate there are many people who face a daily struggle dealing with chronic pain. More broadly over 3 million Australians are trying to negotiate appropriate treatment and support to cope with their pain. I am pleased to be joined by other Parliamentarians committed to making the situation better for people with chronic pain. I am also pleased to be working with Painaustralia the peak body for the sector who have played such a critical role in advancing the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management outlining practical solutions to tackling this condition.”
The purpose of the group will be to raise awareness amongst politicians for better management of pain conditions, and explore opportunities to work with Painaustralia to improve the quality of life of the over 3.37 million people living with pain conditions, their families and carers, and minimise the social and economic burden of pain on individuals and the community.
The strong support that we have seen from both sides of Parliament has highlighted once again the importance of the issue of pain management. There is no electorate in Australia that remains untouched from the impact of chronic pain.
It’s also significant that parliamentarians have rallied to this cause, even as the pressures of the pandemic continue to build once again. Twenty-four have signed up to date exceeding the requirements for establishing a parliamentary friend’s community.
As Painaustralia Chairman Professor Ian Chubb put it so well, “this is a clear indication that federal parliamentarians understand the significant impact that chronic pain has on our community. It is wonderful to see the strong bi-partisan support and I would like to thank each and every one of the members of this group for their enthusiastic response to the invitation. This group and its members will promote more discussion in the halls of parliament about practical solutions to addressing the needs of the 3.37 million Australians living with pain. I am optimistic we will see great progress on this front.”
COVID-19 has shone a light on the strengths and weakness of our health system and how it serves people living with chronic conditions including pain. It is heartening to see the emerging collective understanding that it is more important than ever to have some of our community’s most disadvantaged people placed at the centre of national health discussion.
Australia as a nation is in a very enviable position to provide national leadership to this major health challenge. We are the first country in the world to have a government funded National Strategic Plan of Action on Pain Management, a plan that is currently before Australia’s health ministers for approval. With the support of this new parliamentary group, we look forward to exploring the options that will improve the way we respond to people living with pain conditions, their families, carers and the communities they contribute to.
I am excited at the possibilities that this group presents and Painaustralia looks forward to working with our co-chairs and each of the parliamentarians who have signed up to support a strategic national approach to managing chronic pain.