While COVID-19 disrupts the work of many not-for-profit organisations across the nation, MS Australia continues to pivot to ensure we are able to vigorously pursue our mission across our dual pillars of research and advocacy.
The research work continues to build momentum. We have grant rounds in place with a total funding of $6.5 million over the coming months, including a targeted call for research into ways to repair the damage caused by MS. We have also received an extraordinary donation of $7.4 million from MSWA, this is the largest single donation received by MS Australia from any donor. This funding includes $1 million earmarked for the global effort to make breakthroughs for progressive MS, through a program coordinated by the International Progressive MS Alliance, an organisation of which we are a managing member.
This global research supports collaborative work across the world, including many MS researchers here in Australia. We are also putting the finishing touches to a major submission to the Australian Government proposing a $50 million research partnership with the Medical Research Future Fund to help supercharge the quest for a cure. In terms of advocacy, we continue to produce a number of submissions and position statements on key issues, including access to the NDIS, the Disability Support Pension and – most recently – a soon to be released system on assistive technology developed with a range of key partner organisations.
Most importantly, we’re also busy with the development of our first strategic plan for the combined entity of MS Australia, bringing together our research and advocacy functions. More than 2,500 members of the MS community have now completed our priorities survey. This is an outstanding result – thank you! The results of the survey will help shape and inform our work for the next five years. As the Board develops the strategic plan, it is benefiting not only from the priorities survey, but also from conversations with consumer groups, stakeholders, international MS organisations, researchers, carers and meetings with our four hardworking member organisations, MS Limited, MSWA, MS Society SA & NT and MS Queensland. While our Sydney and Melbourne offices may be physically closed, we are open and working harder than ever to improve the lives of everyone living with MS, while supporting our incredible research community who are working tirelessly to find a pathway to a cure.
Finally, a big shout out to the Australian athletes with MS heading to Tokyo for the Paralympic Games, commencing Tuesday 24 August. Wishing Emily Petricola (cycling), Janine Watson (taekwondo) and Carol Cooke (cycling) the very best of luck for the competition ahead.