Epilepsy Smart Australia
New $20m national epilepsy program launched today
Epilepsy Smart Australia (ESA), a new $20 million Australian Government-funded program launched today in Melbourne, will change the world for the 250,000 Australians living with epilepsy.
The ESA launch was hosted by TV presenter Rebecca Maddern with speakers Dr Monique Ryan MP, Professor Sam Berkovic, a video message from Hon. Bill Shorten Minister for NDIS, ESA Chair Graeme Shears, Epilepsy Smart School Principal Dr Annette Rome and ESA Ambassadors, 16-yr-old Ava Beck and her mother Lisa.
“The Epilepsy Smart Australia program will help improve the quality of life for people with epilepsy and those who support them – regardless of their age, cultural background, stage of life or location within Australia,” said Graeme Shears, who is leading the ESA collaborative partnership – of six peak health bodies – funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
1 in 25 Australians will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lifetime.
“Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological disorders in Australia, yet it is not well understood in the community. This new program will help improve the lives of those Australians currently living with epilepsy and their supporting communities. Epilepsy Smart Australia will make it easier to navigate the world of epilepsy for the 14,000 Australians newly diagnosed each year as well as reduce the economic burden,” said Mr Shears.
The burden of epilepsy costs the Australian economy over $12.3 billion per year in healthcare system costs, productivity losses, informal caring, equipment, transportation, government expenditure and lost wellbeing.
“Epilepsy Smart Australia is a one-stop-shop for all epilepsy-related enquiries, information and education needs. Whether you live in Sydney, Coober Pedy or the Torres Strait Islands, you’ll now have access to the best possible resources and support to help with living with epilepsy,” said Mr Shears.
Epilepsy Smart Australia is improving support services for those living with epilepsy, their families, carers or support networks and for medical professionals – no matter where they live across Australia, their age or stage of life. It provides better information and resources, referrals and training to understand and manage epilepsy and reduce risk. Epilepsy Smart Australia is also reaching out to under-serviced communities that have traditionally had difficulties accessing services.
Those needing services now have a single point of contact, the National Epilepsy Support Service 1300 761 487. People with complex needs will be referred to their local state service provider for ongoing, individualised epilepsy support, as well as education, training and local events.
The new Epilepsy Smart Australia program includes the Epilepsy Smart Disability, Epilepsy Smart Aged Care and Epilepsy Smart Schools training programs.
One in 200 Australian school students currently has epilepsy. Ava Beck, 16 from Victoria is one of them.
“Knowing my school is Epilepsy Smart makes me feel a lot more relaxed and supported at school. I feel safer because my friends and teachers know what to do if I have a seizure. The program has also helped to remove some of the stigma around epilepsy, because the whole school is a lot more knowledgeable now. I’m even able to go on school camps for the first time,” said Ava.
Epilepsy Smart Australia provides:
- More than 40 downloadable best practice fact sheets such as understanding epilepsy and seizures, epilepsy and sleep and swimming with epilepsy.
- Help with developing Epilepsy Management Plans and Emergency Medication Management Plans.
- Education and training for people with epilepsy, their families and carers, in understanding and managing epilepsy and in how to administer emergency medication.
- Education and training for schools, the disability and aged care sectors and workplaces, and specific fact sheets such as Language and epilepsy, Behaviours and epilepsy and Memory and epilepsy.
- A new state-of-the-art technology platform that is enabling the delivery of this national program.
Epilepsy Smart Australia is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. It is a collaborative partnership between epilepsy service providers across Australia including Epilepsy Foundation (Vic/NSW), Epilepsy Queensland, Epilepsy ACT, Epilepsy WA, The Epilepsy Centre SA/NT and Epilepsy Tasmania.
Visit epilepsysmart.org.au or call the National Epilepsy Support Service on 1300 761 487