Pain is an invisible condition affecting 3.37 million Australians. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Building a better understanding of pain to address issues of discrimination, misunderstanding and stigmatisation in the community is essential if we are to reduce the sometimes severe impact on those living with pain, their families and carers.
People living in pain already face a multitude of complex barriers and unique challenges. The pandemic and correlated challenges in accessing primary and preventive health care services have had a major effect on the chronic pain community, as have recent opioid reforms restricting access to pain relieving medication. These are tough times for many with chronic pain.
These challenges are amplified for some key groups such as people in rural, regional and remote areas, indigenous and socio-economically disadvantaged communities, children, older Australians, people with disabilities and those with mental illness.
Ensuring access to information, support and best practice multidisciplinary care in the community is the key to improving the way we respond to chronic pain. For health professionals, access to quality pain management education and training as well as treatment options including, and beyond, medication is important.
Investment in research to address gaps in knowledge about chronic pain and improve pain management strategies is another key strategy as outlined in the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management (the National Action Plan) developed by Painaustralia. People in pain, and their doctors, need options.
As someone who has lived with chronic pain for the last few years I am acutely aware of some of these challenges. I am keen to use my voice to make a difference to those whose voice is limited in national health discussions, yet so critical to better health outcomes.
Thank you for this opportunity. I look forward to working with Painaustralia to advance the discussion about pain.