by Sasha Nimmo
On Saturday 18 May a federal election will be held in Australia. This is your chance to write to local House of Representative and Senate candidates to ask them to commit to funding biomedical research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME.
Below is a sample letter to personalise or to help you write your own. Here is how to find your local electorate. For more information on ME in Australia, you may want to include the ME Australia fact sheet with your letter.
Dear (candidate name)
I’ll be voting in the upcoming federal election.
Before I vote, can you tell me if you can help the 100,000 to 250,000 Australians who have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis? ME is a multi-system disease with no treatment and no cure. ME can be extremely disabling, around 25% of us are so severely affected that we can’t leave home or even bed.
(Write a few sentences about you and your circumstances before and now with ME.)
Over the last 20 years, the federal government has spent a tiny $1.6 million on research. Comparable immune diseases, like HIV, received more than $100 million, 50 times as much.
Recently Minister Greg Hunt announced $3m for medical research, recognising the severity of the disease. At a recent conference, Minister Hunt said “Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome are major issues that can have a profound impact on individual and community life. 240,000 Australians – at least – have some form of ME or CFS. Of those a quarter can be housebound with the same impact on them as MS or any of the neurological conditions so it can be a crippling and catastrophic diagnosis for an individual.”
(for Liberal and National Party candidates) ME Australia and Australian scientists asked Minister Hunt to spend $5m a year for three years (total $15m) on biomedical research. He said he would fund $6-9 million but has only announced $3m. This is a tiny proportion of Australia’s $6 billion health budget for a large group of severely affected people, will the Coalition commit to following through on Minister’s Hunt’s promise to people with ME?
(for Labor Party candidates) Last year Labor senators Urquhart and Polley put forward a Senate motion recognising “there is no current cure or effective treatment for ME and CFS and more biomedical research needs to be done to better understand this medical condition (and urged) Federal, State, Territory and local Governments to take leadership and work with people who have ME/CFS to help them get the support they need.”
I appreciate Labor’s recognition of the seriousness of ME and the need for medical research. Will Labor commit to funding $5 million a year for the next three years to support biomedical research?
The Greens announced their policy on ME and chronic fatigue syndrome, stating that they would allocate $15 million over three years to biomedical research funding, as well as more funding for patient organisations and better access to the NDIS. (https://jordon-steele-john.greensmps.org.au/articles/missing-no-more-improving-lives-australians-me-and-cfs). I would like to see all parties match this small but very important financial commitment.
(Add any other issues you would like to raise. Consider asking the candidate to meet with you. Mention any attachments such as fact sheets you are including.)
I look forward to hearing from you,
(your name and contact details)