Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month, you are probably aware that we have a federal election happening on 18 May.
Now, I have my own views on who to vote for and on the policies of the major parties. I definitely encourage everyone to read up one who is saying what about all the important matters. However, there are two policies particularly relevant to those of us with endo that I want to summarise here: health and disability. I’m going to outline the policies of Liberal, Labor, the Greens, One Nation and the United Australia Party (aka the Clive Palmer party).
This should not be treated as a how-to-vote guide. A party may have great policies on health but terrible policies on another area that matters just as much. It’s also not going to capture my views on the parties: this is literally just a summary of what their stated policies on health and disability are. I also acknowledge that other issues directly impact women with endo, such as issues around homelessness and employment. I’m only going to touch on those where I think they will have a very noticeable impact on people with chronic illness, rather than a general one.
If you are struggling with keeping up with all the different views of the many, many parties contesting, I encourage you to have a peek at Vote Compass. It can be really helpful in figuring out how you align with the major parties on big issues.
Now, without further ado and in no particular order:-
The Liberal Party
The Liberal Party, for my non-Aussie readers, is our current government. They fall to the right on the political spectrum, generally speaking. So far in the election they have been running on an economic platform.
The Endometriosis Action Plan has come to be during the Liberal Party reign, although it received perhaps its strongest support for Labor Senator Gai Brodtmann, who has been a fierce advocate for people with endometriosis. As far as I am aware, the plan received bipartisan support. Although the Plan puts some money towards improving care, the majority of funding goes to education and awareness.
When it comes to welfare, the Liberal focus appears to be on those who can work, but are currently unemployed, rather than those who can’t. Their website talks about initiatives such as cashless welfare cards and work the dole programmes. I strongly encourage those with endometriosis or chronic illness to research these initiatives and determine whether they are likely to hurt or help.
In their health policy, Liberal pledges to:-
- commit up to $29.1 billion to hospitals by 2025, including increasing funding to specialist care for chronic pain treatment;
- continue funding Medicare and the PBS;
- invest $308 million in reducing the cost of medication for people using multiple medications;
- increase access to MRIs;
- devote $4.8 billion to mental health care; and
- Put an additional 3,000 nurses and allied health professionals in rural medical practices.
The page also talks about reforms made over the past 4 years, but it is not clear from the page whether that funding and policy will continue. One assumes that that is the intention but I don’t want to put words in their mouths.
When comparing themselves to Labor they emphasise that they have committed greater funds during their term than Labor did during theirs, and that Labor once blocked 7 medications from being included on the PBS.
The Labor Party
The Labor Party website is a little less easy to navigate, with policies laid out singly rather than grouped by area, like “health”, but I’ve gleaned what I can and summarised below for you.
In disability, Labor pledges $10 million to disability advocacy (although it isn’t clear whether endometriosis or chronic illness more generally would be considered a disability). They aim for a 6% disability quota in the APS by 2022. They say they will reform the NDIS to close the gap between it and mainstream services. They will also amend the Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission to include redress. They will invest $300 million into students with a disability – again, it is unclear how disability is to be defined in this context.
Under Hospitals, Labor pledges to restore the $2.8 billion of funding to hospitals that they allege the Liberal Party is cutting. They also pledge $500 million to reduce emergency room waiting times. They state that they will close the gap in health care between rural and metropolitan areas. They will increase staffing at Medicare and Centrelink, which would hopefully improve access and decrease wait times.
They state that they will reverse Liberal cuts to penalty rates. I include this because many people with chronic illness find themselves working in casual positions due to the unpredictability of their illness making full- or part-time work impossible.
In the mental health area, Labor will invest $200 million in Headspace.
In reproductive rights, an area the Liberal Party doesn’t touch on at all, Labor will work to decriminalise abortion, and (significantly for those who use contraception to manage their endo) increase access to contraceptives, particularly long-acting ones such as the implanon and mirena. They also directly mention endometriosis, saying that they will be
“Addressing specific reproductive health issues such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, transvaginal mesh and female genital mutilation.”
They have committed to continuing the Endometriosis Action Plan.
The Greens have kindly collated all this information on just one page, which made accessing it nice and easy. From this page you can download individual, more specific plans. Say what you will about their policies – this website is very helpful.
The Greens say that they will fund a “truly universal” public health system, and reduce hospital waiting times (not clear if this is for surgery or emergency rooms or something else). They will do this by funding Medicare – there is a big emphasis in their platform of ensuring that people don’t feel they have to pay for private insurance to access quality care. It is worth reading that document – it includes details such as a $3.5 billion plan to increase care for people with chronic physical and mental illness, including $750 worth of care and a national framework for diagnosis and treatment.
They will increase mental health funding and work to destigmatise mental illness.
They pledge to raise Newstart and the New Parenting Payment by $75 per week, which will help those people with chronic illnesses who are too sick to work but can’t meet the very strict requirements for the DSP and so get stuck on Newstart long-term.
They will increase general accessibility for people with disabilities. It’s worth noting that the Greens do have a Senator who uses a wheelchair (Jordon Steele-John), who would likely appreciate the systemic barriers people with a disability can face.
The United Australia Party
I love you, my readers, but I don’t love you enough to listen to all of Clive Palmer’s speeches in the hope one of them mentions health. They don’t talk about them in the title. You can do that here if you want to.
However, I have scoured his “Vision for Australia” document looking for policies. Basically he keeps talking about boosting the economy through his various strategies, and mentions health only tangentially. He will
- build more hospitals;
- reduce income tax (helpful for those sickies healthy enough to earn enough to pay tax but who are struggling financially);
- commit $80 billion in funding to health for the next three years;
and that’s all I could find.
I’m also not 100% clear when this document was published, as the URL includes “2015” and the stats all seem to be from around then.
In summary, the UAP is very much about the economy and getting the money – the details on how it will be spent may be available but if it is, it’s not easily found on the website.
One Nation has a very pretty website, but not a lot of detail on health or disability. There is definitely more of a focus on immigration, Islam and refugees.
All I could really find in the health sphere is support for sick people accessing medical cannabis, although they don’t outline specifics of how that support looks (legalisation, decriminalisation, licensing, etc).
In terms of accessing Centrelink, they want to introduce an identity card to fight against people rorting the system.
That’s all I could find on their website. Really, that’s it. If someone else finds more, please let me know, because this just seems lacking.
I hope that may have been helpful to those who didn’t want to sift through reams of election promises to find out how folks with endo would be effected from 19 May. Please remember to vote properly and consider voting below the line to control where your preferences go, or research who is referencing whom to make sure you know what happens if your party doesn’t win.
Here’s hoping for a great future and ongoing support in the health arena.