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Why MPs were in tears

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Emotional scenes have erupted in the Victorian Parliament as a first-term MP detailed her battle against motor neurone disease.

Emma Vulin, the Labor MP for Pakenham, on Melbourne’s south-eastern edge, announced her ALS diagnosis last month.

But on Wednesday, the Legislative Assembly was a sea of ​​blue hats with pom-poms in support of disease patients, their families and research.

Melbourne AFL icon and Australia’s most prominent MND campaigner, Neale Daniher, was also in Parliament as the FightMND Big Freeze campaign prepares for its 10th anniversary.

Ms Vulin told parliament she has faced many obstacles in her life, including a stroke at the age of 36 and an intense political campaign.

“…and now I face my biggest challenge: motor neurone disease,” she said.

“I’m not the only one facing the beast: there are more than 2,000 Australians and more than 500 Victorians suffering from ALS, with many friends and families also affected.”

Assignment Freelance photo Emotional scenes have broken out in the Victorian Parliament as 43-year-old first-term MP Emma Vulin has detailed her battle with motor neurone disease.  Photo: Natalie SuleymanAssignment Freelance photo Emotional scenes have broken out in the Victorian Parliament as 43-year-old first-term MP Emma Vulin has detailed her battle with motor neurone disease.  Photo: Natalie Suleyman

Emma Vulin praised Neale Daniher and his family’s battle against ALS. Photo: Natalie Suleyman

Assignment Freelance photo Emotional scenes have broken out in the Victorian Parliament as 43-year-old first-term MP Emma Vulin has detailed her battle with motor neurone disease.  Photo: Wendy LovellAssignment Freelance photo Emotional scenes have broken out in the Victorian Parliament as 43-year-old first-term MP Emma Vulin has detailed her battle with motor neurone disease.  Photo: Wendy Lovell

Everyone took action. Photo: Wendy Lovell

Ms Vulin said she curled up and cried for two days after she was diagnosed, then pulled herself together.

“Just like the legendary Neale Daniher says, ‘Don’t say, do!’ — except for me it was, ‘Stop crying and do it!’” Ms. Vulin said.

She said the disease had progressed to the point where she was left with a “very weak” right arm.

After Ms Vulin announced her diagnosis, Mr Daniher and his wife Jan invited the MP and her partner to their home to discuss tips, information and the road ahead.

Assignment Freelance photo Emotional scenes have broken out in the Victorian Parliament as 43-year-old first-term MP Emma Vulin has detailed her battle with motor neurone disease.  Photo: Mathew HilakariAssignment Freelance photo Emotional scenes have broken out in the Victorian Parliament as 43-year-old first-term MP Emma Vulin has detailed her battle with motor neurone disease.  Photo: Mathew Hilakari

FightMND’s signature event takes place every year at the MCG on the King’s Birthday holiday. Photo: Mathew Hilakari

Motor neuron disease causes neurons to degenerate and die. Muscles become weaker and weaker. Patients then become paralyzed. There is no known cure.

MND Victoria chief executive Kate Johnson was also in parliament; the organization provides mobility aids, equipment and guidance.

“They are an incredible organization that does a lot of things, but most importantly helps care for people with ALS from inception through to palliative care,” Ms. Vulin said.

The Danihers’ organisation, FightMND, is hosting its 10th Big Freeze campaign this year, with athletes and celebrities sliding into the ice water at the MCG in a few weeks’ time.

After her speech, MPs gave Ms Vulin a standing ovation as parliamentarians wiped tears from their eyes.