04 May 2023, 12:27
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

My question is for the Minister for Health, represented by Minister Blandthorn, and relates to the Epilepsy Foundation and Fight Parkinson’s. 123,000 Victorians live with either epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. The Epilepsy Foundation and Fight Parkinson’s are vital peak bodies providing essential secondary health services and supports that reduce the burden of these diseases, including death, disability and diminished quality of life, and importantly reduce the high impact of these diseases on the Victorian health system. Their services include one-on-one support, responding to specialist healthcare professionals, education and training for patients and families, assistance with management plans, and capacity building and peer support. I ask: will the minister ensure their continued funding into the next financial year?

Lizzie BLANDTHORN (Western Metropolitan – Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Minister for Child Protection and Family Services):

Thank you, Mr Ettershank, for that question. It is a very important question. I have a friend who is a young mother who has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, so I appreciate you asking the question. I know it is a particularly important issue to you as well. I will be more than happy to refer it to the health minister for a response.


Thank you, Minister, for your response. Like many, many Victorians, we have all been touched by neurodegenerative conditions, and I appreciate your response. By way of supplementary, though, I note that services delivered by the Epilepsy Foundation and Fight Parkinson’s reduce accident and emergency presentations and hospital admissions. Prevention is clearly better for the patient and preferential for a clearly overburdened hospital and health system, so I ask: is this a factor in the minister’s decision-making?


Thank you, Mr Ettershank, again for your supplementary question. I will be pleased to pass it to the Minister for Health.

Written Answer
Received: 10 May 2023
Hon Mary-Anne Thomas MP
(Minister for Health, Minister for Health Infrastructure, Minister for Medical Research) 

Following Victoria’s transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme services like Epilepsy Foundation and Fight Parkinson’s were to access funding under the NDIS to support their communities. This did not occur despite both organisations completing multiple funding submissions for NDIS grants.

For the past few years the Department of Health has stepped in, reprioritising funding to enable The Epilepsy Foundation and Fight Parkinson’s to plan for their future and explore partnerships with similar organisations and national groups to support their ongoing work.

Both organisations had been advised that this funding is not ongoing and cannot continue to be diverted away from other public health priorities, particularly in an environment of budget pressures and escalating costs for the delivery of healthcare.

The Department of Health will provide an additional three months’ transitionary funding to both organisations and support them to make alternative arrangements and ensure that everyone living with Parkinson’s or Epilepsy gets the support that they need.

I have also written to the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to enquire how the scheme can support The Epilepsy Foundation and Fight Parkinson’s into the future.


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