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Launch [virtual] of the Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group, and Painaustralia Morning Tea, Canberra


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good morning — to those here at Government House and to all those watching online.

Welcome, all, to this virtual launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group—a non-partisan group open to all Senators and Members. Welcome also to Tara Moss, the new Painaustralia Pain Champion, who we’ll hear from shortly.

Linda and I are delighted to participate in this event and to help shine a light on the issue of chronic pain and chronic pain management in Australia.

Arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, migraine, back pain, neck pain, sciatica, cancer … the list of causes of chronic pain goes on.

Right now, 3.4 million Australians are living with chronic pain. It’s debilitating for those people, for a whole host of reasons that are well known. Carers, families and friends are also impacted. As are medical centres, hospitals, workplaces and economies. The impacts of pain run deep and wide.

Unfortunately, the number of Australians living with chronic pain is on the rise. By 2050, it is estimated that 5.2 million Australians will be experiencing chronic pain. The total cost of chronic pain to the Australian economy this year alone is estimated to be $144 billion. Our capacity to reduce the burden of chronic pain is being challenged.

More and more people are experiencing chronic pain.

Resources and money are tight.

COVID has made things difficult for people living with chronic pain. Not being able to exercise, for example, can have psycho-social effects and, in turn, exacerbate chronic pain. Waiting times to see pain specialists have increased to 12 months in some public clinics.

There is a degree of uncertainty about our future.

The time is well and truly now to do something about it, and that is why you are here.

By nature, I am an optimist. From experience, I agree with Professor Michelle Simmons, a quantum physicist and a former Australian of the Year, in her belief in the ability of Australians ‘to solve the big problems’. As Members of Parliament and as members of a national peak body, you have influence. You can help solve this ‘big problem’ through your role as advocates.

I congratulate the Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group on the release of the updated National Pain Services Directory in August, and I congratulate Painaustralia for developing a National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management. The Directory lists more than 200 public and private facilities, provides mapping and navigation information, as well as listing the various services provided at each facility. It is a wonderful resource for consumers and health professionals.

Thank you, again, for the work you are doing.

To improve the quality of life for people living with chronic pain.

To ease the burden on carers, family and friends.

To ensure the system for people experiencing chronic pain better meets their needs.

To advocate on behalf of those who need help.

To give them hope. 

It is now my great pleasure to launch the Parliamentary Friends of Pain Management Group.