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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 8086

Debate resumed, on motion by Ms King:

That the House recognises that:

(1)   polio survivors continue to be the single largest disability group in Australia today, numbering in the tens of thousands;

(2)   this number not only includes those who contracted polio in Australia during the epidemics last century, but also young polio survivors who have migrated from countries where polio is still prevalent or only recently eradicated;

(3)   the needs of polio survivors have been largely neglected since vaccination against the disease became a reality, and as they age with chronic disabilities this neglect must be addressed as a matter of urgency;

(4)   over the last 20 years much attention has been drawn to the development of new, previously unrecognised, symptoms which occur in people who were thought to have reached a stable level of recovery after the acute disease;

(5)   symptoms of the late effects of polio include unaccustomed fatigue unrelated to activity, decreased strength and endurance, pain in muscles and/or joints, an inability to stay alert, weakness and muscle atrophy, muscle and joint pain, muscle spasms and twitching, respiratory and sleep problems, swallowing and speaking difficulties, depression and anxiety.

(6)   over the last 20 years polio survivors have established state based post polio organisations to provide information and support for fellow survivors, and that these networks are run by polio volunteers who themselves are experiencing increased disability and decreased mobility; and

(7)   in the coming years it is increasingly inevitable that many state networks will cease to function as volunteers find themselves unable to continue the service, thereby creating the necessity for a central body, Polio Australia, to take over responsibility for state functions.