Jill Pickering is one of a strong contingent of Victorian polio campaigners heading to Canberra on Wednesday 31 October 2012. As well as telling her local Member about the late effects of polio, how they affect her, and what services she and her fellow polio survivors need, Jill will also be presenting  Polio Australia’s Petition  to this Federal Parliamentarian.

Jill contracted polio at the age of 9 years old before going on to become a Occupational Therapist and keen horse lover. However, since her 40’s Jill has been battling with the late effects of polio and was forced into early retirement. In spite of this, Jill still manages to save some energy to advocate on behalf of the forgotten and largely invisible post-polio community.

What is a memorable childhood experience?

I remember sitting unrestrained in an open cart that was being pulled by a tractor, travelling to and from hydrotherapy for treatment together with other children who were also suffering from polio.

How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?

Twenty years ago I could walk kilometers at a time with a walking stick but now I can only take a few steps with it. My shoulders are also affected and now I can’t lift by arms above shoulder height. I had to stop work early due to exhaustion and now I am barely coping with basic daily living activities.

Why are you going to Canberra?

I am going to Canberra because this is such an important period. We are really struggling to find anyone who can accurately diagnose, treat and manage our debilitating symptoms. In fact the late effects of polio are often taken as normal ageing or ‘all in the mind’, which then increases our feeling of hopelessness. Worse still is that GPs say exercise to increase strength, but this only increases the rate of breakdown in already fragile, polio-affected nerves.

Which Member of Parliament are you meeting with?

Mr Adam Bandt MP
Member for Melbourne, Victoria
Party: Australian Greens
Chamber: House of Representatives

Support Jill and the “We’re Still Here!” campaign by sending her a message here.

Return to  “We’re Still Here!” Campaign Heroes