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Arthritis Australia E-News July 2012

It has been yet another productive and busy year for Arthritis Australia.

With the creation of two new positions, our team has grown since our last e-letter. Franca Marine joins us as National Policy & Government Relations Manager and Chris Dickson is project managing a new osteoarthritis-specific website. You can read more about the work they are doing below.


Call to action - Please help us lobby government regarding joint injections

Arthritis Australia is fighting to restore Medicare rebates for joint injections which are used to reduce pain and swelling in sore joints. 
Medicare rebates for these injections were cut by the government some time ago.   The injections are used for diagnosis and pain relief and involve injecting something into the joint, such as a corticosteroid, or drawing out excess fluid from the joint. 
Many people have told us that since the rebates were removed, they now have difficulty paying for joint injections and in some cases are going without because of the increased costs.
We need your help!
We are trying to collect evidence on the impact that removing the Medicare rebates has had on people living with arthritis. This evidence will help us to convince the government to restore Medicare rebates for these procedures.
Please help us by completing this three minute survey if you have ever needed a joint injection. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Click here for survey
If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact Franca Marine on (02) 9518 4441 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Thank you for your assistance in completing the survey.


Patient's hands

2. NSW Health

Arthritis Australia has been working closely with NSW Health Support Services and a USA University to review the food packaging supplied to NSW hospitals. Arthritis Australia evaluated 75 food and beverage products as part of this review.  Each product reviewed received a recommendation on how to make the packaging easier to open.

An important stage of this project has just taken place, a health study of patients in Concord Hospital to better understand the issues patients face consuming food in the hospital system. NSW Health identified biscuits as a priority area where the packaging needed to be improved. As part of the health study, biscuits which had their packaging redesigned based on Arthritis Australia recommendations were evaluated by patients.

A patient, Miss Vaughn, has severe arthritis. She had ‘given up’ trying to eat biscuits in the hospital because she could not open the packaging. Miss Vaughn then tried opening the new biscuit packaging which had been redesigned based on the Arthritis Australia’s design recommendations. She opened the biscuits easily and was very happy about being able to finally eat biscuits with her tea in hospital. This is just one of many food products which are now being redesigned to make hospital packaging easy to open for all patients. Miss Vaughn’s experience will be replicated by tens of thousands of patients in NSW hospitals in the coming months and years.

3. The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL)

Our relationship with the RSL continues to expand; the main focus involves the RSL State and National Presidents lobbying their respective state and federal health minsters to integrate accessibility and the Accessibility Benchmark Scale into their food tender process. Letters have been sent by the Presidents of the RSL to the NSW and Federal Minster for Health. The letters state that ‘the work already undertaken by NSW Health and Arthritis Australia is considerable and is achieving much needed improvement in packaging accessibility’.

Similar letters were sent to every state health minister and in some cases, the Department of Veteran Affairs. We are in discussion with the RSL regarding a range of other projects including a campaign to tackle medicine packaging.

4. National Advocacy Strategy

Arthritis Australia is taking a more proactive approach to national advocacy on behalf of people with arthritis by developing a national advocacy strategy. We are consulting with stakeholders, including our newly established National Arthritis Consumer Reference Group, to identify key advocacy priorities, develop effective solutions and work with government and others to achieve meaningful change.

We have also been active in advocating on behalf of people with arthritis in a number of areas including:

  • Health and medical research in Australia
  • Aged care reform
  • Personally Controlled Electronic Health records
  • Improving primary health care
  • Raising awareness amongst politicians of the impact of arthritis on individuals and society.

5. Consumer Reference Group

The newly-formed National Arthritis Consumer Reference Group has been established to provide advice and guidance from a consumer perspective on our advocacy objectives and strategies and consumer awareness activities. The inaugural meeting of the group, which has members from across Australia, discussed a number of issues of concern to people with arthritis. These issues included the need to raise awareness in the community and among health practitioners of the burden of arthritis, to enhance patient support, to manager better the co-ordination of care and to improve access to services.



The Voice of GPs on Arthritis – Media Release – 21 March 2012

Arthritis Australia launched Whose Problem Is It Anyway? - The Voice of GPs on Arthritis at Parliament House on 21 March 2012.

GPs struggle with osteoarthritis (which affects 2 million people in Australia) - but they shouldn't have to.

A first ever survey of general practitioners' attitudes and beliefs about arthritis helps to explain why people with osteoarthritis feel dissatisfied with their care. GPs are dissatisfied too.

To read the full media release - click here.
To read a summary of the findings - click here.

The report outcomes were launched at Parliament House Canberra in March to coincide with Arthritis Awareness Week. The release created a lot of interest from parliamentarians, government officials and the media. We are continuing to advocate for better primary care for all Australians struggling with their arthritis.



Arthritis Australia in partnership with Bupa Health Foundation* is developing a new interactive website to help those with osteoarthritis better         manage the condition and its symptoms.

It will provide information and treatment advice from experts as well as links to healthcare providers in your area who can assist with care. 

The site will be launched later this year. If you have osteoarthritis it will be well worth a visit as its focus will be on effective, evidence based care   and helping you choose between treatment options.

Click here to complete a form and register your interest now.
We'll let you know when the new website is ready.

For more information about osteoarthritis, you can also call the Arthritis Information line on 1800 011 041

* We would also like to acknowledge the additional support of AstraZeneca and Pfizer on this project.



Arthritis Australia relies on the generosity of community groups, individuals, and corporate sponsors for most of its funding. Nearly one in five  Australians - that's 3.85 million people - has arthritis. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation via our website to support our cause please click here.

Your help can assist in the following ways:

Approximately $30 - Provides at least 300 people with extensive information about arthritis via our information sheets.
Approximately $50 – Allows approximately 60 people to receive free-of-charge our 10 Steps for living well with arthritis booklet, putting them on the path to managing their arthritis.
Approximately $200 - Helps 200 recently diagnosed people with rheumatoid arthritis understand their condition so that they can better manage their symptoms and continue to lead an active and healthy life.
Approximately $500 - Educates at least 1000 non-English speaking people by providing multicultural information via our website Approximately $1000 - Allows a researcher to continue their search into finding a cure for arthritis.

* Donations over $2 are tax deductible and will receive an Arthritis Australia tax receipt.



Back by popular demand!

Rheumatoid Arthritis champions refuse to let their disease get the better of them.
Since the launch of the Women's Insights into Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign, the publication continues to be in demand.

The publication features stories of 12 inspiring Australian women with rheumatoid arthritis - as shared with their local female Federal MP and rheumatologist.

Click here to view a pdf version of Women's Insights into Rheumatoid Arthritis


For your free copy, send your contact details, including postal address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Closing date is 31 July 2012 or until stock runs out. Please allow up to 21 days for processing and delivery. Please note: free booklets only available to Australian residents.



Information sheets and booklets

Our information sheets and booklets continue to be a valuable resource for our consumers, as well as health professionals and we are always seeing an increasing demand for them. All our information sheets and booklets, including multicultural sheets, were reviewed and updated January 2012.

A complete list of arthritis information sheets including multicultural information sheets and disease specific information booklets can be downloaded from our website

If you would like copies of any of these resources, please contact your local Arthritis office on the toll free number 1800 011 041.



The 2013 Arthritis Australia National Research Program

Along with education and assistance, Arthritis Australia spearheads the effort to further our knowledge of arthritis and to search for cures. Much of our work is directed toward raising funds to provide grants, fellowships and scholarships. Professor Graeme Jones is the medical director of Arthritis Australia and chair of the Research Grants Assessment Committee.

Over the years, we have funded a variety of research grants, as well as created opportunities for emerging researchers to build their experience and careers. Recent developments now allow rheumatologists to imagine remission as a real possibility when a 20% improvement rate for their patients was the goal 10 years ago.

Successful applicants for the 2013 Arthritis Australia National Research Program will be announced late October.


12. Arthritis Australia/Zimmer Orthopaedic Fellowship Program

The Arthritis Australia/Zimmer Orthopaedic Fellowship Program, initiated in late 2009 continues to promote best-practice orthopaedic treatment for arthritis sufferers and has already committed more than $850,000 to orthopaedic surgeons to improve their instructional skills and assist with the international exchange of knowledge in the field.

For more information on this program or to download an application form click here.

Applications for the next round of funding are now open and will be accepted until 31 August 2012.



Arthritis Australia research

Research holds the key to more effective treatments of arthritis

The total cost of arthritis to the Australian economy was estimated to be $23.9 billion by Access Economics in 2007. The average cost of arthritis per person per year is $6200; 61% of arthritis costs are borne by the individuals themselves.

Health research and you

Research Australia's Public Opinion Poll (2008) conducted by Crosby Textor, showed that Australians are more worried about developing arthritis than any other disease. Arthritis is seen as a very significant risk, with 43% of Australians rating their lifetime risk as 1 in 10 or more and only 2% seeing themselves as having no risk.

Arthritis is not yet curable but with early and proper diagnosis as well as a customised management plan, it can be controlled.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis has improved markedly as understanding of the disease process improves.

With early aggressive therapy using the new designer agents, remission can be achieved in over 50% of patients.

If you would like to read the full information sheet about health research and you, please click here.
A donation to the Arthritis Australia Research Program will help us increase understanding of the causes and treatment of arthritis.


We welcome your feedback about any of the information provided. Please forward any comments to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Your privacy is of course protected by Arthritis Australia. Any personal details submitted will not be passed onto third parties under any circumstances.

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