One of the keys to success in making changes to Government policy lies in the support from people affected by particular issues.
We have many examples of where your support has had a huge impact on making change happen. For example MS Queensland clients writing to their local member of Government sharing information of how the impact of heat affects their MS and the increase in the financial cost that is experienced as a result. The many letters that were forwarded to local members of Government were acknowledged and recognised in Queensland Parliament and aided considerably in the fantastic result of a Medical Cooling and Heating Concession Scheme later introduced.
Here are just a couple of great examples of where self-advocacy has made a positive change.
Judy, a member of the Toowoomba MS Support Group, has achieved some amazing results for the MS community and people with disabilities over the years. She recently asked MS Queensland to share pdf
discussing her advocacy and lobbying work for all people with a disability.
In Judy’s words, “people can achieve so much in their own local area by lobbying their local politicians and media publicity. [The] best advice is for people to gather as many others as they can – more voices make more noise! Pollies only listen when there is a big enough outcry.”
Some of Judy’s achievements include:
having Betaferon added to the PBS;
the use of the Baillee Henderson Pool by people with MS and allied neurological disorders;
lobbying hard for repairs to be undertaken to the Baillee Henderson Pool so it could open again after a 12 month closure;
lobbying via many Government submissions for better Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) funding, better airport and travel facilities for all people with disabilities and the Medical Electricity rebate scheme; and
attending local and State forums on behalf of people with disabilities to achieve continuing improvements for all people with disabilities.
Want some support to contact your member of Government? Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to discuss any information regarding meeting with your local member on 07 3840 0823 or email email@example.com.
Wendy was awarded the MS Queensland 2012 MS Heroes MS Champion Award by the Governor of Queensland at Government House at the World MS Day Reception on 29 May 2012. Wendy is a fantastic example of the outstanding work that people with MS do to help others within the community and was nominated as an MS Hero by Spinal Injuries Association, where Wendy works as a Design Compliance Officer.
Like many, Wendy holds numerous roles in her busy life: architect; Step-by-step architecture for access and advocacy; Convenor of the Queensland Action for Universal Housing Design (QAUHD); MS Queensland Board Member; MS Ambassador; Design Compliance Advisor - Access Solutions for the Spinal Injuries Association; Accessibility Reference Group for Queensland Rail and professional speaker at forums. Wendy is true inspiration for all that she does on behalf of people living with MS. As per Wendy's advice, "anyone can make a difference; you just have to do it."
Carmel has been living with primary progressive MS since 1998 and lives in our independent accommodation living centre on Waterton Street, Annerley. Despite her worsening MS, in her own words Carmel shares her self-advocacy achievements:
"My legs and arms don’t work but boy I have a very clever chin – it drives me where ever I want to go and is even typing this letter to you.
I have and never will let MS get me down or defeat me, in fact it has done the opposite. It has given me strength and a previously unknown power of what can be achieved if you put your mind to something.
I started by wanting to go for a cup of coffee down the street but the footpath was in such a state of disrepair that it made it very difficult for me to attempt. This upset me and I decided to do something about it, not ever believing that something would eventuate. I typed a letter (with my clever chin) to my local councillor who came out to see me to listen to my plight. Nicole (my local councillor) actually helped me get something done about the footpaths. Two weeks later we had a new footpath and I could go and get my coffee.
But then I ran into another problem, I could not cross the road safely as the traffic was travelling too fast. So this time, I received an invitation to speak to Brisbane City Council. This was the greatest day of my life. It was like being in the House of Representatives, I had memorised my speech and did not even need my carer’s prompts. I delivered it perfectly, made the Lord Mayor laugh and raised many smiles throughout the chamber. We lost the vote to install a crossing - 24 to 7, but I walked out with a hand written note from The Lord Mayor saying that someone would contact me within the next week. Six months later the crossing has finally been approved but work has not commenced yet. When it does the whole world will know about it because I will tell them!
Not stopping there I decided the little red blinking man on Ipswich Road did not give us long enough to cross safely, so I set off on my next assignment. This one only took 1 week and the little red man was blinking five seconds longer YAY!!!!
My next assignment is a traffic sign that is up on Ipswich Road. The stands of the sign sit directly over the footpath and only a very skinny person can walk between them, otherwise it is the grass which during the wet we often get bogged. Wish me luck on that one!
I guess the aim of my story is to tell you all that just because you have MS it’s not the end of the world. You all have a hidden talent, please use it, the world needs it.
The purpose of life is what we make it. The meaning of life is what we give it."
Bob, who lives in Brisbane’s bayside, is an active member of his community and knows the importance of sharing issues that are important to him with people who can make change happen.
When MS Queensland were advocating for a heating and cooling rebate for people living with MS, Bob took action to share the impact of heat and the incidental cost of air conditioning with his local State member, who he has come to know well after meeting on a number of occasions!
Bob is also concerned with the lack of accessible disabled parking in Brisbane. Last year when the Masters Home Improvement store opened in Tingalpa, he and his wife went to the store opening, only to find the three disabled parking spaces available were not regulation width. Both appalled by the car parking situation, they measured the width of the space and took photos of the car parks. Then Bob got on the phone, calling everyone he could think of including Masters Home Improvement, Woolworths Limited and Brisbane City Council to complain about the car park width and to search for a solution to the problem. He thinks he must have caused quite a stir because within a week, the carpark had been completely resprayed and now has 26 disabled spaces thanks to Bob.
To this day no organisation has accepted responsibility for spraying the carpark incorrectly in the first place, but for Bob it was a nice little win for him. “When you live with a condition like MS, day in and day out, it’s nice to see that you can stand up for what is right and get a positive result.”
Recently we've also seen great success when MS clients wrote to their local members of Government and the Minister for Transport, regarding proposed changes to the Red Disability Parking permit. Please listen to Toni Pease and hear of the great outcome she achieved by writing a letter and sharing her concerns.
WANT MORE INFORMATION?
For more information on how you can advocate for your self in your community please contact our Advocacy Manager, Natalie Walsh on 37 0840 0823 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.