Victoria Gandera’s story and sponsorship.

When my Mum first told me that I had gotten the scholarship for my music learning I was so happy, and I was filled with excitement. This scholarship really helped me with my music learning this year because now I can do my singing exam for grades 3 and 4.

In the year 2020, during the first months of the pandemic, I started learning to sing and that was when I had my first Zoom lessons. When I sing, I can relax, and I feel like I don’t need to stress about anything and everything.

I really enjoy singing because I can increase my skills and my techniques to get better and better. I really love singing and I put in a lot of practice to get good at this skill. When I look back at videos of me singing my first ever song I’ve learned, I feel like I have improved so much since then and that all my skills and techniques that I have kept in mind, have helped me get my singing to be much better and well. I am so glad I have gotten that scholarship. My life wouldn’t be the same without music and singing.

The only reason I can do the two grades is the money from the scholarship, which has helped me with my lessons and has made it so that I could learn so much more. When I sing, I can just enjoy the moment.

My mum recorded my performance at the recital, which was organised really quickly. We have helped to prepare to program with the AAAF logo on it and we did those cute tickets, that said that everyone was VIP at our recital. It was the best day and even though I was a bit anxious at the beginning, I enjoyed it a lot.

Just like Victoria, we support many others through their journeys and we help them achieve their dreams. You can find more details about our sponsorships all through our webpage and social media.

Emma’s Alopecia Story

Hi, my name is Emma, and I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata just before my 14th birthday.

My hair had always been perfect until one morning I woke up and got in the car to drive to school and mum asked me what I had done with my hair. At this stage, it was no more than about 5mm of hair missing from the front of my hairline. The next day it was even bigger, about the size of a 20-cent coin. This is when we decided to book an appointment with the dermatologists. We were extremely lucky, and it turned out they had a cancelation that week.

It was 5 days after the initial piece of hair fell out when I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. By this point, I had already lost about a 1/8th of my hair.

We instantly started steroid injections into my scalp, and they started to work. Over the course of about two weeks, I continued to lose hair rapidly until over a quarter of my head was bald and my hair had thinned drastically. At this point, we were told that I was most likely going to lose all my hair and that we should start looking into wigs.

One week later, I shaved what was left of my hair and donated it to help others with alopecia.

My hair loss slowed right down, and it eventually stopped. After a few months, I had some hair regrowth on my head. When things finally looked like they were getting better I suddenly lost all my eyebrows over a period of 3 days. This was exceptionally traumatic. We turned to henna to create the illusions of eyebrows for a few months before they eventually began to grow back. While I still have bald patches on both my head and my eyebrows, I have hope that one day they might grow back.

Emma is a very talented dancer that has been training for most of her life. She also is one of our recipients of the AAAF gold level Sponsorship Program which has allowed her to pursue her dancing. For more information about the sponsorship program click here.

Alex’s Sponsorship Update 2

My Bridgeneering lessons are finished and it was really really super great.  There was nothing about it that I didn’t like – the whole thing was the best.  If I could make one of the bridges in real life, I would make the Tower Bridge.  It’s a bascule and suspension bridge.  That means it has parts that go up and down like a drawbridge.  I also made the Story Bridge that’s a cantilever bridge; the Sydney Harbour Bridge which is an arch bridge; and a beam bridge.  I think the bridge we go over to Redcliffe is a beam bridge – it’s long and flat.

For the beam bridge, it was so long it went from one wall of the classroom to the other and the whole class worked on it together.  For the other bridges, we worked in pairs.  Everyone there was really kind and funny and everyone just love building bridges so we all worked really well together.  We all liked the same things as each other so everyone got on really well.

My favourite person was the teacher, Justin.  He knows so many interesting things and I just love learning from him.

When I grow up I want to design and build bridges but I also want to do all the other types of engineering too!  Thanks AAAF for sending me to Bridgeneering!

Corinne’s Alopecia Story.

My name is Corinne Scullie, I am 37 years old and I am currently suffering from Alopecia Universalis.

My journey with alopecia began when I was in primary school and I started losing patches of my hair. Alopecia was something my mum already had experienced herself so we knew what it was straight away. I recall trying different things at the time to try and help but eventually it all fell out. The biggest thing I remember about this time was that most people assumed I had cancer and that not many people knew what alopecia was.

At school I was allowed to wear whatever hats I wanted inside the classroom as well as outside and I thought this was awesome because everyone else had to wear the dorky school hats. During this time, I continued to play Netball and participated in Calisthenics. My hair grew back quite quickly and over this period I never wore any wigs.

Since then I would get the occasional patch over the years but it wasn’t until 2014 that it really started to disappear again. This time, I lost all my hair and eventually my eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair disappeared too. Because alopecia was something I had grown up with (my mum continued to have it come and go over the years and one of my younger sisters also lost her hair) I found it a lot easier to accept than most.

I started buying wigs and named my first one ‘Big Red’ (because it was a long red wig) and we had a lot of fun together. I have never shied away from the fact that I have alopecia but once my kids got to a certain age, I had to begin to factor in their comfort levels as well as my own. Slowly, their friends became aware. My son, in particular, found it funny to pull my wig off and say “my Mum’s bald!”.

Given I have a bit of a collection of different wigs, it also has become fun for kids (and sometimes the adults) to try them on. When explaining to younger kids I often say I have magic hair that can come off and go back on – sometimes it changes colour too. Its quite funny to then see them try and take their hair off too.

After several years of attending my daughter’s calisthenics competitions and concerts I started to want to get involved again myself. She was around 6 at this time and wasn’t keen for me to join and I think part of this was the fact that I would be on stage in front of people without hair. I gave her another year before raising the subject again and she was not thrilled, but my husband made her come around to the idea.

Joining the Masters team of Bendigo Calisthenics Club has been the best for my self-confidence. I have made new friends and helped spread some awareness within the club about Alopecia. Receiving this funding grant has allowed me to continue this year and will also give me a platform to spread further awareness throughout the calisthenics community.

Thanks to the Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF), for funding my return to Calisthenics and for helping me spread awareness about Alopecia!

Emma’s Alopecia Story.

My name is Kylie and I am Emma’s Mum. Emma was diagnosed with Alopecia during the first lockdown in SA, in March 2019.

It all started with some of Emma’s hair on her head falling out in big patches.  Then it slowly progressed to her eyebrows, eyelashes, and all of her hair on her head, arms and legs.

We had trouble getting Emma into seeing a specialist and dermatologist at the time of the hair loss due to the COVID 19 outbreak and many doctors were not taking patients from the Barossa which is where we live, due to the cluster in Tanunda (the tourists from the American Cruise Ship).

When Emma returned to school after the COVID lockdown, she had lost a lot of her hair and wanted to wear a hat to school.  I emailed all of Emma’s school friends to advise them of the situation and to let them know Emma may look a bit different and all her friends wore a hat or beanie to Emma’s first day back at school.

Emma is a resilient and strong girl and has handled what life has thrown at her health wise with strength and dignity.  She amazes me every day and I feel privileged to be her Mum.

The funding we have received from the foundation has been amazing and has helped Emma continue her passion for Gymnastics.   This activity gives her so much confidence and he shas progressed to the Performance Team in her gymnastics group and continues to improve and practices daily at home.

We would like to thank the Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) for helping and sponsoring Emma 😊

Where to Find Financial Support for Wigs in Australia

When hair loss occurs, we know it can impact your self-esteem, self-image, and confidence.

One of the most common ways of combatting the physical, emotional, and mental impact of alopecia areata is to purchase a wig. By giving the outward appearance of a full head of hair, they can boost confidence, help avoid awkward questions, and even protect the skin from the elements.

But wigs in Australia are costly. They can cost anywhere from $80 to thousands of dollars, plus the additional 10% goods and services tax (which can add up to quite a bit depending on the cost of the wig). Depending on how well they’re taken care of, a wig can last as little as 5 months to as long as 5 years, but eventually, they need to be replaced.

Those costs mean that there’s a great segment of the alopecia areata community that cannot access this potentially life-changing medical device. With all of the challenges individual’s with alopecia areata already face, paying for a wig shouldn’t be one of them. The good news is, there is financial support available.

Tax Rebates and Subsidies

For adults requiring a wig, there are government-sponsored programs that can help you cover the costs in the form of rebates and subsidies.

Most individuals will qualify for a tax rebate on their wig under the Taxation Ruling TR93/34. Section 159P of this ruling allows for tax rebates on net medical expenses. Those expenses include the cost of medical or surgical appliances that are prescribed by a qualified medical professional, such as a medical or surgical wig. Individuals are entitled to a rebate for net medical expenses that exceed $1,000.

There are also a number of state subsidies available, depending on the state in which you live:

  • New South Wales (NSW) offers eligible candidates assistive technology like wigs through the Enable NSW program. 
  • Victoria (VIC) provides subsidized aids and equipment through the State-Wide Equipment Program (SWEP).
  • Tasmania (TAS) has financial assistance available for patients of alopecia who have a DHA Pensioner Concession Card or DHA Health Care Card and are referred by a doctor.
  • South Australia (SA) supplies wigs or contributes toward the purchase of wigs for eligible clients under the Department for Families and Communities (DFC) Equipment Program.

Each of these programs has their own eligibility requirements, often depending on what kind of wig you’re looking for and your financial situation. Program requirements and benefits will differ from state to state, and Western Australia (WA), Queensland (QLD), Northern Territory (NT), and Australia Capital Territory (ACT) don’t provide any such service.

Private Health Insurance

If you have a Health Fund provider, you may be eligible for assistance through your extra coverage.  The provisions under an extra coverage policy may allow the policy holder to file an insurance claim to cover the full or partial cost of a cranial prothesis. Typically, this only applies to individuals who have lost their hair due to medical reasons such as chemotherapy, trichotillomania, or alopecia.

While some health insurance policies require the policy holder to pay for their prothesis and then reimburse them, others will provide you with the money prior to your purchase. The availability of this form of financial assistance varies according to provider, so you’ll have to check with your Health Fund to find out if you can make a claim. Look for a list of Health Fund providers on the Private Health Insurance Ombudsmen’s website.

Financial Support for Children

Wigs for kids grant

Alopecia often presents itself in childhood. When it presents during this important period of self-discovery and socialization, it can cause confusion, fear, and a sense of isolation from peers. This is why ensuring children with alopecia can access wigs is incredibly important work.

There are a number of grant programs that children with alopecia may be eligible for. For example, the AAAF’s Wigs for Kids grant program is available to children under the age of 17 who have alopecia areata.  On top of financial assistance, this program provides all of the information, service, and support that any child who wishes to wear a wig could possibly need.

Low Cost Wigs

In addition to the financial support options listed above, there are also a number of places to find low cost wigs that are more affordable. 

In keeping with their commitment to improve the lives of people with alopecia areata, the AAAF offers a range of synthetic wigs and they keep the cost of these wigs exceedingly low. Indeed, they’re usually sold for well below cost price and they even offer free shipping. Eligible candidates can use these when they’re new to the world of wigs and looking to try some options that are right for them.

Individual wig suppliers all have their own approach when it comes to discounts and payments, but it’s not unheard of to find a wig provider who is willing to arrange a payment plan. There are also a number of wig suppliers that participate in a voucher program approved by the Public Hospital System. You can talk to a nurse or doctor to find out if your hospital has vouchers and check online to see what suppliers in your area qualify. 

More Help with Wigs

A beautiful wig can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, putting them out of reach for a significant portion of the alopecia community. But there is financial support available, if you just know where to look. Consider applying for tax rebates, state subsidies, and grant programs, or looking for low cost wigs to offset the financial burden that wigs can represent.

And for more information and help with wigs, be sure to check out the AAAF wig resources page.

Why GST on Wigs Matters To You

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that AAAF’s social media accounts have been busy with information about GST and wigs, petitions and demonstration rallies. It’s easy to think that taxation on wigs is a tiny issue, only affecting a tiny portion of people, and only having a very small impact on those people. If you don’t wear wigs, you might find yourself thinking why on earth does this matter, and why on earth would it matter to you.

For people with alopecia, the question of Goods and Services Tax on wigs can be, quite literally, a matter of life and death. Continue reading “Why GST on Wigs Matters To You”

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