We are very pleased to announce a renewed commitment to MS Research Australia of $825,000 from the Commonwealth Department of Health over the next 3 years from 2017 – 2019.
This signature grant, which commenced in 2004, came about thanks to the hard advocacy work of former MS Research Australia CEO, Jeremy Wright, Board member Graham Tribe AM and former Prime Minister, John Howard OM AC, who were all instrumental in bringing this national government support to fruition. This initial operational grant helped to get MS Research Australia up and running and was subsequently renegotiated by Jeremy every 3 years. We are thrilled, that with much advocacy and hard work on both sides, that this important Commonwealth grant will again continue for the next three years. The funds are used to underpin many of our research administration, research facilitation and key fundraising activities.
John Howard, who presided over our inauguration in 2004 and as the key note speaker at our 10 year anniversary event in 2014, highlighted some of the national achievements in MS research during that time, as well as acknowledging the important collaboration with government.
Over the last 13 years, the total government support (Commonwealth and NSW state) for MS Research Australia equates, on average, to around 5% of our total annual revenue. Philanthropy and donations from individuals, trusts, foundations and community support constitutes the vast majority of our annual revenue. Around 73% of our annual revenue now comes importantly from our own fundraising activities and 27% is from the state-based MS societies.
The CEO of MS Research Australia, Dr Matthew Miles, said, ‘I am thrilled with this result. The funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health has been important in many ways in helping us achieve our recent MS successes, in both a national and, increasingly, global setting. With a modest organisational team of 10- 12 people, this has allowed us to do much more for the MS research community and people affected by MS than we ever thought possible’.
The research team, led by Dr Lisa Melton, provides detailed biannual progress reports on behalf of MS Research Australia to the Commonwealth Department of Health on how the funds are utilised and our achievements against the agreed targets. This encompasses a great breadth of MS research activities such as MS research conference participation, facilitation of national collaborative research platforms, communication of research progress to the community and our engagement with the global MS research community, as well as stretch goals on fundraising initiatives such as Kiss Goodbye to MS.
State government funding via the NSW Office of Medical Research for the MS Research Australia Brain Bank and the MS Research Australia Clinical Trials and Research Network has also helped us to expand our activities while ensuring that as much as possible of the fundraised dollar goes directly to research.
MS Research Australia will continue to advocate strongly for further opportunities to partner with state and federal Governments to support MS research in Australia and we have been focusing on these opportunities in discussion with our Board and our Leadership Council. We have also been bench-marking against like-minded charities who have been very successful in attaining commonwealth government funding. Sustained government funding remains critical to our mission of finding cures, better treatments and prevention of MS.