Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 - Parkinson’s

April 11th, 2012:  Today is World Parkinson’s Day, intended to create awareness of Parkinson’s disease and to encourage new research and treatment and highlight the families and individuals living with Parkinson’s.

Recently released Access Economics data (2011) states that Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurological condition in Australia and that as many as 30 people every day are diagnosed. There are approx. 80,000 Australians with Parkinson’s and 20% (16,000) are in the workforce. Although the extent is not fully known, there are an estimated 2500 people in their 30s and 40s who have been diagnosed.

Living and working with Parkinson’s presents a unique set of challenges for people diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s, as they will “typically experience the full spectrum of the condition’s debilitating physical and emotional effects” (C Fyffe, J McCubbery report -Younger people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, Issues in Housing and Support, 2007).

These include Issues such as work, relationships, and raising a family as well as the stigma associated with having a disease that most commonly afflicts people over 65 year of age.

Nerissa Mapes and Sharon Daborn are two such women.

Nerissa was diagnosed at 28 years of age. When most of her friends were falling in love, getting married and having babies, Nerissa was dealing with the reality of facing a lifelong battle against the disease - and the medical and emotional challenges it presents.

Sharon Daborn was the mother of three young children aged four, two and 10 months when she was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s. On top of the demands of raising a young family, Sharon had to manage the impact on her life that the diagnosis at such a young age would have.

Both Sharon and Nerissa are available for interview for World Parkinson’s Day.

From the Access Economics Data
• In 2007, 25 people were diagnosed with Parkinson’s each day and now it is 30 people
• There are an estimated 80,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Australia
• Parkinson’s is growing in numbers (by 17% over the last six years); and costs have grown by over 48%
• Per annum nearly 50,000 years of healthy life are lost to the condition
• since 2005 The estimated economic burden of the disease for 2011-12 is valued at $7.6 billion

On World Parkinson’s Day, we are glowing with pride and lighting up Melbourne’s skyline in support of people living with Parkinson’s.

The spectacular, cutting-edge geodesic dome roof of AAMI Park Stadium in Batman Avenue will light up with 1,544 green LED lights on Wednesday 11 April 2012. Think that’s a lot of lights? Well for each single bulb, there are more than twelve Victorians living with the condition - day in, day out.

With the twinkling and sparkling of every light, consider the awareness and optimism they represent.

Contact Profile


Parkinson’s is a chronic, progressive neurological condition that currently affects more than 80,000 Australians.* Parkinson’s is not fatal, but it is a life-long condition for which there is no treatment or cure. Presently there are 27,000 Victorians living with Parkinson’s and every day, six more Victorians are diagnosed.

Parkinson’s Victoria is the peak body representing the needs and interests of those living with Parkinson’s in Victoria. It was established in 1981 by four visionary women who were themselves diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Thirty years later, Parkinson’s Victoria is a not-for-profit specialist agency with over 45 support groups across the state and a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals.

Parkinson's Victoria promotes the right of all people living with Parkinson's to comprehensive and excellent services, which encourage independence and quality of life.

For more information please visit

*Source: Deloitte Access Economics, Living with Parkinson’s Disease, Challenges and Positive Steps for the Future (updated 2011). Commissioned by Parkinson’s Australia.


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Darren Saffin
P: 0411 089 209


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