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Response from the ALP’s Tanya Plibersek MP
Friday 2 November 2007
Tim has provided us with his correspondence.
He prefaces it with this message:
I am pleased to forward on the following email from Tanya Plibersek MP that I received today [1/11/07]. She is the only person from either of the major parties to respond with a real letter (albeit in political speak). The Treasurer buckpassed to the Health Minister who in turn responded that the Department of Health and Ageing would look into my requests.
Here is Timothy’s email to Tanya Plibersek MP:
From: Tim Hill
Ms Tanya Plibersek MP
I write to you as a patient of 2 years with the condition known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in the hope that as the potential Minister for Human Services in the new parliament, this invisible illness might be taken seriously.
In Australia, there are estimated to be some 140,000 ME/CFS patients making the condition more prevalent than AIDS or Lung Cancer. It is estimated that the annual cost to the Australian economy is around $3.8bn through the loss of working hours and the cost to the health care system.
Fortunately I live in South Australia which is the only state or territory to adopt the best practice definition for ME/CFS, namely the 2003 Canadian Clinical Criteria. This means that patients in the rest of Australia suffer from the use of psychiatric treatment methodologies based on the 1994 research definition for CFS. Nevertheless, patients throughout Australia continue to suffer a lack of understanding and recognition of the illness not to mention the loss of income, friendships and so on.
To address some of the issues faced by patients and carers of those with ME/CFS, I seek your support in the new parliament for the following:
1) The adoption of the Canadian Clinical Criteria nationwide.
2) The issuing of a ministerial directive to the Department of Human services to list ME/CFS as a disabling invisible illness. This will make applications for Newstart Incapacity Allowance and the Disability Support Pension less stressful.
3) Currently the national and state ME/CFS societies exist entirely on memberships and donations. I request the sum of approximately $250,000 to be divided between them to be used to setup a phone counselling service and brochure publication for patient carer/support and the like.
4) Patients and patient groups reject the continual support for psychiatric methodologies in ME/CFS and desire that any new funding administered by the NHMRC (for research into ME/CFS) be directed at a biomedical approach and that any successful proposals be contingent on the use of the Canadian Clinical Criteria.
Here is Tanya Plibersek MP’s response:
From: Plibersek, Tanya (MP)
Dear Dr Hill
Thank you for getting in contact in regard to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a serious medical condition affecting the lives of many thousands of Australians and their families and carers. Federal Labor recognises that ME has a significant economic and social impact, in addition to its effect on the lives of sufferers and those close to them. Australians suffering from ME and their families and carers deserve the support of the entire community.
Kevin Rudd has announced a number of measures to improve the state of our nation’s health system and to end the blame game in health. This includes plans for GP Super Clinics in local communities and a National Health and Hospitals Reform Plan.
Details of Labor's commitments can be found at the ALP website – www.alp.org.au.
Federal Labor is acutely aware of the needs of Australians suffering from ME.
A Rudd Labor Government will work with sufferers of ME to develop practical measures which provide real assistance to Australians suffering from ME and their families and carers, and contribute to our understanding of this condition.
Once, again, many thanks for getting in contact in regard to this important issue.