Those in the medical profession would be well aware of Motor Neurone Disease, but until recently many in the broader community who have not been touched by this debilitating condition would not have been aware of it.
The international social media phenomena of the Ice Bucket Challenge has changed all that, and after knowing a few people in Page who have lost their battle with MND, I gladly endured momentary discomfort and accepted the challenge to help raise that awareness.
So far the challenge has raised about $US80 million worldwide. If you wish to donate go to the Ice Bucket Challenge at Motor Neurone Disease Australia.
Since my last column, Parliament has been on winter recess which has allowed me to spend all of my time in Page rather than in Canberra.
I represented the Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton at the opening of the new Women’s Care Unit at Lismore Base Hospital. It is part of the new Stage 3A redevelopment of the hospital.
My wife gave birth at the old unit, so I know about the lack of privacy and the very cramped conditions – something that a mother-to-be should not have to endure.
The new 10-bed unit has private rooms and had already seen 238 birth since it was unofficially opened in June.
During the recess I have also caught up with many community groups to help them promote the terrific and vital work they do.
This included meeting with the likes of Cranes Community Services in Grafton and St Andrews in Ballina to discuss their Care Respite Programmes.
All too often, when people are sick we focus on them and their needs – as we should – but we must never forget to care about the carers. These people provide the necessary non-medical care to help their loved ones back to health.
I also caught up with Grafton’s New School of Arts – Neighbourhood Inc to discuss the planned expansion of its Community Visitors Scheme made possible by a $31,000 Federal Government grant.
Programs like this and the Broadband for Seniors Kiosks, which I also announced over the last few weeks, helps to break down the social isolation felt by many of the most vulnerable older members of our community and keeps them mentally alert and healthy.