Polio FINALDelegate registration is now open for the Australasia-Pacific Post-Polio Conference. The conference will be held in Sydney, September 20-22, 2016. Among the 24 keynote speakers for the inaugural event for the region are US rehabilitation physician William DeMayo; US Post-Polio Health International director, Joan Headley; president of the European Polio Union, John MacFarlane and head of clinical research, National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance Australia, Robert Booy.

The theme of the conference ‘Polio – Life Stage Matters’ will address the challenges and exchange knowledge about the diagnosis, treatment and management of the post-polio condition across different age groups. The three day conference will target professionals in rehabilitation medicine, allied health, nursing, neurology, orthopaedic surgery and virology. It is also bringing health care providers, researchers, polio survivors, caregivers and patient organisation representations from around the world.

The conference is being hosted by Polio Australia, the national body representing Australia’s 400,000 polio survivors. Polio Australia is working towards standardising quality information and service provision across the country to ensure polio survivors have access to appropriate health care and the support required to maintain independence and make informed lifestyle choices.

However, because because most polio survivors are over 65 they are ineligible to be part of the NDIS, which is the age when most will need more aids and equipment. Polio Australia president, Dr John Tierney, told F2L that even for the few who are under 65, having polio does not guarantee automatic entry into the NDIS. He said Polio Australia represents the largest physical disability in the country but despite numerous representations to governments has been unable to get just recognition and proper services in place for polio survivors. “Clearly budget implications have forestalled any changes to government policy and at the moment the only option is what is available from aged care but the cost of Home Care packages is increasing. We are advocating the government put more funding into aged care services particularly for programs to help people self-manage the disease. Polio survivors need to know what to do and what not to do when it comes managing their health.”

Tierney has also adding voice to demands for a fulltime Disability Commissioner. This follows the recent announcement by Attorney General, Senator George Brandis that Susan Ryan will continue as Disability Discrimination Commissioner in addition to her role as Age Discrimination Commissioner. Dr Tierney said with the complex services being brought in under the NDIS, those with disability deserve and will require full attention. “Australia’s post-polio community has survived, had gainful employment and contributed to society for many years despite their disability.”

He said ensuring equivalent services under aged care funding initiatives and the protection of a full time Disability Commission is only reasonable. “If the office is not given the due weight and dignity of a fulltime person, we will never be heard.”

For more information and delegate registration visit: www.postpolioconference.org.au