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Dr CARLING-JENKINS (Western Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter tonight is addressed to the Minister for Health, Ms Hennessy, and reflects upon the great work that has been done by the Australian Pain Management Association (APMA). I call on the minister to recognise the issue of pain management for Victorians, and suggest that one way to do this would be to increase the level of government funding available to organisations like APMA and in particular to contribute to the funding of their network of pain support groups. APMA is a health charity which provides community services for people who live with pain. It is at the moment entirely self-funded, relying therefore on memberships, donations and sponsorships to meet the enormous needs of people in our community with severe chronic pain.

Some of the services they advertise include a national telephone helpline, information services, community education, awareness raising and, importantly, the network of pain support groups across Victoria. Each year groups of volunteers under this banner have helped Victorians debilitated or disabled by severe pain, and they also help their families. They provide positive support, encouragement and information about the self-management of pain. They also provide information on evidence-based treatments. As a person who suffers from chronic pain myself I acknowledge the need for such services.

Unfortunately, however, Victorians are at risk of losing valuable services like this, because it is only so far that volunteers can go. They are unlikely to stay long if they are forced to spend much of their precious time fundraising and doing paperwork instead of working in the community where they are needed most. I am aware that there have been grants of up to $5000 available through the health condition support grants program to aid the work of a vast number of various health promotion support groups in Victoria; however, the pain support groups are not eligible to access this funding.

In the interests of supporting Victorians living with pain and chronic health conditions and of promoting health and wellbeing, which I know Ms Hennessy is very interested in doing, and of course in the interests of preventing disease in the Victorian community, I do urge the minister to recognise the issue of pain management in Victoria and to provide practical assistance to groups such as the Australian Pain Management Association so that they can continue their good and essential work in our community.

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