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Australian Charity of the Year Announced

20 August 2015 at 10:59 am
Xavier Smerdon
Just 10 years after it was founded to tackle a lack of research into a disease that affects more than 23,000 Australians, MS Research Australia has been recognised as the Charity of the Year.

Xavier Smerdon | 20 August 2015 at 10:59 am


Australian Charity of the Year Announced
20 August 2015 at 10:59 am

Just 10 years after it was founded to tackle a lack of research into a disease that affects more than 23,000 Australians, MS Research Australia has been recognised as the Charity of the Year.

Announced at the Australian Charity Awards, as part of the Australian Business Awards, MS Research Australia was hailed for bringing in more than $24 million for medical research since 2004.

CEO of MS Research Australia, Dr Matthew Miles, told Pro Bono Australia News his organisation was honoured to take out the award.

“I think I was most pleased for the staff who have put in such long hours, and to be recognised in this way when you work in a charitable institution or a Not for Profit is really great,” Dr Miles said.

“It’s really important that the people are recognised in this way because they’re not always recognised as much as people who are working within the corporate sector or the for profit sector.

“So I think if anything I was most pleased for the staff considering the long hours that they put in and it’s really nice to see them rewarded in that way.”

The organisers of the awards said MS Research Australia was chosen as Charity of the Year because of the impact it had made in its short existence.

“In just ten short years MS Research Australia has greatly increased the funding and the amount of research programs, focusing on multiple sclerosis throughout Australia,” the Australian Charity Awards said.

“In 2006 there were only two drugs available to treat the disease. Now there are 11 thanks to MS Research Australia (and international researchers).

“The charity is also the (largest organisation dedicated to funding and coordinating MS research) in Australia. The organisation’s recent ‘Kiss Goodbye to MS’ campaign raised over $800,000 for MS in 2014 and created widespread awareness about the disease.”

Dr Miles, who was also the recipient of the Harvard NFP Fellowship this year, said the secret to becoming a recognised charity was believing in what you are doing.

“I think a lot of it comes back to the hard work and dedication of our staff, board members and founders to really believe that medical research can change the world and if you don’t really believe that then you’re probably in the wrong space,” he said.

“I think it was a culmination of people with MS, donors, the state-based MS societies and everyone getting together and realising there’s a great need for more funding and to be funded in a really structured way so that the money that you do have, which is always finite, can be put to the best effect and that every dollar that you use is spent to the best way that it can be spent so that you get the biggest bang for your buck from research perspectives, and I think that’s what we’ve achieved.”

Dr Miles said the future of MS research would revolve around tackling the disease on a global scale.

“We’ve come a long way with MS. MS for some people is starting to be a very different disease. The landscape for people with MS is changing dramatically. Not for everyone, but for a great range of people, it’s changing dramatically for the better,” he said.

“MS is probably the epitome of that because you can touch, feel and see the advancements of what we know about MS and the way that it’s treated looks completely and utterly different to what it did 10 years ago.

“There’s a lot more work to be done with progressive MS, which is a form of MS that is more debilitating and disabling, so I think the future is global alliances and we’re thrilled to have joined a global alliance for curing progressive MS.

“One day we’re hoping that people with progressive MS have just as many drug options or treatment options as people with relapsing-remitting MS and the way that we’re going to do that is through this global alliance which is putting €22 million into progressive MS research and I think it will get great outcomes.”

Now in it’s third year, four other charities were recognised with Outstanding Achievement titles at the Australian Charity Awards.

Christians Against Poverty, the National Stroke Foundation, the OneSight Foundation and The Flagstaff Group all took out an Outstanding Achievement award.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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