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. AAAF has done considerable psychological research that has shown that people with AA are more likely than the general public to experience anxiety and depression. They can experience feelings of isolation, despair, and social phobia. In extreme cases, alopecia can lead to suicide. For many people experiencing these intense emotional and social impacts of the condition, being able to a wig can be lifesaving. Gaining control your rapidly changing appearance, and not feeling visible marked as different from the people around you can be the most vital parts of managing the condition through these tough times.

Human hair wigs cost up to six thousand dollars. For these alopecians to be paying an additional ten percent in goods and services tax for a condition that they can neither control nor prevent is abominable.

This lack of concession to the needs of people experiencing medical hair loss is, at best, an oversight, and at worst, it is knowingly profiteering from the misfortune of others. And an oversight, once known, is corrected.

For five years, the AAAF has been lobbying to get attention and action on this issue. We have been consistently knocked back by both Liberal and Labor governments. No one has acted for change.

But hey, if you don’t wear wigs, why should you care?

Let me tell you. I haven’t worn my wigs in the past two years. GST on wigs still affects me.

If you have never worn a wig, GST on wigs affects you.

If you’ve never even heard of Alopecia before today, GST on wigs still affects you.

 

GST on wigs matters to you because one day it might REALLY matter to you.

Maybe it doesn’t feel like this issue would really affect you now. But one day it might.

Sure, maybe you don’t have alopecia right now. Perhaps no one in your family does. Maybe none of your friends or neighbors or anyone you know at all has this condition. But will it always be that way?

Alopecia can affect anyone. Any age, any race, any gender. It is unpredictable and it is unpreventable. Sure, there is every chance that you’ll be one of the 98% of people who never has to deal with it.

But maybe one day you, or your partner, or your child, or sibling, or parent, will become one of the over 462,000 Australians who experience some form of alopecia. Will fair taxation on medical prosthesis matter to you then?

 

GST on wigs matters to you because simple legislative change should not be this hard.

AAAF has been campaigning for five years to have our voices heard by those who are supposed to represent our nation. Consistently knocked back by governments of both persuasions, I can’t help but be overwhelmingly disappointed at how unresponsive and nonreactive, antiquated and out dated the political system is in Australia.

Our whole campaign is one example among many of how difficult it is to see legislative change happen in this country (if you aren’t the heir to a media or mining empire, that is).

You’ve probably heard some of the furious debate about GST on sanitary items. But did you know that that GST debate has raging since the introduction of GST in 2000 (and has still not been dealt with!)?

That tax, which many Australians view as fundamentally sexist, brings in about 30 million AUD every year. Many politicians say that allowing these GST exemptions would hurt other programs, like healthcare, roads and education, by undercutting revenue, yet seem not to question potential revenue lost to existing exemptions on items like sunblock, nicotine patches, and prophylactics.

GST on wigs is estimated to cost Australians about 2.5 million AUD a year. That’s 0.00056% of total tax revenue in this country and about 0.0024% of total Goods and Services Taxation Revenue. Not a huge loss.

The fact is, this is a tiny issue. The costs associated with changing the situation are minimal. The procedures to allow GST exemptions already exist.

We shouldn’t have to be fighting tooth and nail to see some movement on this. It should not be this hard for average Australians to be involved in the political process of our country. It simply should not be this hard, and the fact that it is says something very negative about our system.

 

 GST on wigs matters to you because fair taxation is everyone’s business.

Ultimately, your view on the role and extent of taxation in society is going to be a personal perspective, tied to your own individual political and moral beliefs.

Do you believe that individuals have a responsibility to care for the wider society around them, and that in turn that society has a responsibility to care for those individuals who need it?

Do you believe that the wealth an individual accumulates is the result of their individual labour, so they should have a right to complete control over how their own money?

Would your opinion change if you were hit by a bus tomorrow? Or if you suddenly came down with a debilitating illness? If you were no longer able to work, and lost your job? If your medical expenses skyrocketed? If all of this happened through no fault of your own, just a quirk of chance?

On the scale of a whole country, who pays for what matters. It matters to you because you’re the one paying for it.

It matters because in a democratic system you are the one who decides what you’re paying for. You decide with your vote, with your letters to your member of government, with your signature on petitions asking for change.

To me? It matters because an estimated 2.5 million dollars is collected in goods and services tax on wigs worn by people who use them to manage medical conditions. It matters because this money is turned around to contribute to paying over 12 billion AUD in fossil fuel subsidiaries. It matters to me because fair and reasonable exemptions from additional charges on the health care costs of Australian families has been knocked back three times with very little consideration, while tax concessions and discounts for the wealthiest among us at a cost of over 6.15 billion dollars over 2015-16 have been happily given lengthy debate.

GST on wigs matters whether your life has been touched by alopecia or not.

Will you sign up for fair taxation? Sign our petition today.

 

 

 

 

AAAF’s New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year! We hope you all had enjoyable and safe holiday season and are feeling refreshed and excited for the year ahead.

Before we took our holiday break, we were talking here on Love, Alopecia about all the things AAAF has achieved over the last 12 months. This week it’s all about where we want to go next. That’s right, it’s time for AAAF’s New Year Resolutions. These goals are our commitment to our community that we will never stop striving to do better, be better and help others to have a positive journey with Alopecia Areata. So what’s in store for 2017?

 

In 2017, we will… GROW

2016 was one of our biggest years yet, with major campaigns like Remove GST On Wigs and the Bald Canvas giving the AAAF Team plenty to do among our usual event calendar of terrific trivia nights, fantastic fundraisers, and casual catch ups. In 2017, we’re aiming to do even more.

We have a few special items in our social calendars this year, including our first attendance at the NAAF Annual Conference in Miami this June, and AAAF’s champion team tackling the Kokoda Trail in August. We’ll also be including even more opportunities to meet and mingle with AAAF’s fantastic team at a wide range of outstanding events. But we can’t host events without you, so keep an eye on our Facebook and register for email updates to find out what’s happening near you. Don’t forget that you can always get in touch with us to suggest or help plan events by emailing info@aaaf.org.au

We also have several opportunities available to grow our AAAF Committee. Our committee are all fantastic individuals who volunteer their time because they believe in improving the lives of people with Alopecia Areata and their families. If that sound like you, then get in touch! Even volunteering just an hour a week can help AAAF to grow, do more and help more people.

 

In 2017, we will…. IMPROVE

This year is AAAF’s 7th birthday. We’ve learnt a lot in our time and are dedicated to continually improving and perfecting how we work.

The biggest target in our sights is our website. Our site is a hub of information and resources on alopecia and we are very proud of the work that has been put into it. But as technology moves forward, we acknowledge there are several areas which could use some polish and shine. So our team is already hard at work on a complete update, making it even easier for you to find the information you want and the support you need.

We’re also developing brand new support materials to help more people on their journey with this condition. We’re focusing on helping those new to this condition get answers to their questions fast, and to know what support is available and where to get it. We’ll have some more information about AAAF’s new material (and some exclusive sneak peaks) here on Love, Alopecia later in the year.

If there is an area that you would like to see AAAF improve, or something you’d like to do to help, please get in touch with us via info@aaaf.org.au . Your feedback is vital to letting us know what you need, so don’t be shy.

 

In 2017, we will… EMBRACE

Above all, our goal for 2017 is to help more people with Alopecia Areata and their families to have a positive journey with this complicated condition. Embrace Alopecia is our yearlong commitment to all our community, that we will be here with opportunities, resources and support to help you get to a place of empowerment, comfort and confidence with this condition. We celebrate the fact that there is no one way to Embrace Alopecia, and are excited to see how you will be part of the movement.

 

Looking forward to another fantastic year.

Love, Alopecia.

 

Highlights of 2016

Man. What a year.

On a global scale, it’s pretty well unanimous that 2016 has been hectic. Closer to home things have been pretty busy too, and this year has been a big one for the AAAF Team. So for the last post of 2016, we thought we’d look back on what we’ve achieved this year.

The Numbers Are In

This year, AAAF has provided 67 families with Wigs for Kids Grants to help them cover the costs of purchasing a wig. This program has been made possible by more than 2000 amazing hair donors who have supported the program in 2o16.

We’ve hosted well over 20 “official” events, with even more casual catch ups happening thanks to our amazing Support Groups (Find your local group here if you aren’t already hanging with this fantastic crew). We’re hoping to host event more events in 2017 and we’d love for you to be involved. Got an event idea? Email us at info@aaaf.org.au and we’ll help make it happen.

We reached a fantastic milestone during Alopecia Areata Awareness Week – our Facebook community has grown to over 3000! Our Facebook is one of the major channels we use to communicate the amazing things we have going on, so if you’re not already a friend, you’re missing out!

The Bald Canvas Initiative

This twelve month art project set out to raise spirits and awareness by creating beautiful artworks on the heads of people with Alopecia Areata. Over the course of this project we’ve held several events across the country. Check out some of the fantastic images below or check out the albums online.

 

Gaining Ground on Unfair GST

AAAF has been lobbying federal and state governments for over five years to discuss GST exemptions on wigs worn for medical purposes. In 2016, we took the campaign public with a peaceful demonstration in Melbourne’s Fed Square. Chel Campbell, AAAF President, shaved her hair in solidarity with those affected by this unfair taxation.

 

Sad Goodbyes, Warm Welcomes

In 2016 we also saw some changes to AAAF’s core Committee. Early in the year our long time Treasurer, Tracy left our group. More recently we have also said farewell to Vesna, who has stepped aside to spend more time with her growing family. Both of these extraordinary women have been part of AAAF’s journey since we took our first steps, and their contribution cannot be understated. Though they are no longer on our Committee, they will always be a part of the AAAF family.

This year also brought us our newest Committee Member, fantastic NSW Branch Manager Sarah.

If you’re looking to volunteer a few hours a week with a rewarding cause and amazing team, send us an email at info@aaaf.org.au . AAAF is always ready to welcome new additions to our group.

Big Plans

As fantastic as the last twelve months have been, we’re pumped and ready for what 2017 has in store. A number of big projects are already underway. For those adventurers out there, we have a team training hard to tackle the Kokoda Trail in August (Spots still available to join them! Email greg@aaaf.org.au for more details). We’re super keen to be joining our friends in the US of A for the National Alopecia Areata Conference in Miami, Florida! 2017 will be AAAF’s first year attending the conference and we cannot wait to bring back everything we learn and share it with you. Our tech team has also been hard at work this year polishing the insides of our screens, and we’ll have some very exciting web announcements coming in 2017, so stay tuned.

 

2016 has been a huge and amazing year and we are so grateful to have shared our joy and successes with all of you. All of this and more was only possible because of our AAAF team of donors, supporters, volunteers and families – so thank you!  We hope you all have wonderful holidays and are rested and ready for the fantastic New Year ahead.

Love, Alopecia

 

Three Big Reasons to Support Small Charities this Giving Season

The majority of charities are small organisations.

In Australia the official earnings threshold to be classed as a “small” charity is less than $250,000 revenue per year. About two thirds of our registered charities are in this group – and of that, about a third are classed as “very small” and earn less than $50,000.  Only 19% of charities earn over one million per year. This information becomes even more interesting when you consider that Australia’s top fundraisers are earning into the tens, even hundreds of millions.

support-small-charities

It’s not really surprising that a few large organisations are earning the majority of donation dollars. Big charities have big resources, and big missions that inspire the generous people who want to grow good in the world. But as we enter this years’ Giving Season, you might want to consider some of these big reasons for supporting small charities.

Impact

Most people who donate or volunteer to charity do so because they want to make a difference. So it makes sense then that you would want to maximize the impact that your individual donation can have. How to do that? Give your support to a small charity.

Now I should say upfront that I absolutely do support and understand the need for large, multinational organisations to tackle big scale issues like poverty, human rights, and responding to large scale crises. But small charities are often working in areas that are desperately under supported, and the effect they can have on their communities is vast. There is something very unique and special that comes with knowing the impact you have had, individually, by supporting a smaller organisation.

For example, let’s say your community fundraiser has raised $10,000. Donate this to a small organisation and you could be setting them up with enough funds to cover their program costs for an entire year. For larger organisations with respectively higher costs, this same amount might cover a single day of expenses – or less. That’s not a bad thing – but it does mean your donation has a proportionally a much larger impact to a smaller charity.

You already donate to many major charities

I mentioned earlier that big charities have big resources. For many that includes government support, which we all contribute to through our taxation system.

Government support for the non-profit sector has definitely declined in the last few years and the Department of Social Services Discretionary Grants Program was dramatically decreased in the last federal budget. However of the approx. $800 million was provided in the latest round of grants, the vast majority of funds has still been allocated to large charities. (You can find the full report here, if you feel like reading over 500 pages).

Don’t get me wrong, plenty of small groups were helped by small grants schemes, and that is fantastic. But the million dollar grants, paid for by public taxes? Those weren’t going to struggling small charities. So those small charities really do need your help.

Real People, Real Causes

The major benefit of supporting small charities will always be the personal touch.

Get to know who you’re helping. Get to know the people with their feet on the ground doing the work that you are supporting. Championing small charities and local, close to home causes helps to grow support in areas that desperately need it, but more than this it invites you in to a vibrant and passionate community you may never have even known existed. Small charities are in many ways the solution to the age old problem for non-profit donors – not knowing if your support matters.

To small charities, it does. To small charities, your generous donations – contributions of funds, or skills, or your time – are absolutely vital to being able to continue our work. In a very literal sense, we cannot operate without it.

 

If you would like to support the work of the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation this Giving Season, please visit our website.

Welcome!

Welcome to Love, Alopecia!

If you’re here, you’re most likely one of the millions of people in the world who make up our alopecian community.

Perhaps someone in your family, maybe your child or partner or sibling, has joined the alopecian tribe.

Maybe you work with someone with alopecia, perhaps as a hairdresser or wigmaker or doctor or psychologist or teacher, and you want to know more about alopecia in order to help them the best you can.

Welcome.

Love, Alopecia is a place for all people who make up the alopecia community. If that sounds like you, you can keep up to date by following us for email updates, or by following AAAF on Facebook.

This is a place for the sharing of stories, information, advice and support. Our writers are all experts on alopecia – we’ve been living with it for years.

Stef has been a Support Ambassador with AAAF for several years. Stef has hosted numerous awareness talks at schools, conferences, and business events and has featured on TV and radio, all aimed at improving awareness of alopecia through education. She has had alopecia since she was six  years old.

Georgia (AKA George) is also Support Ambassador, in addition to her main role as the AAAF Secretary. Her background is in media and business, and has had alopecia for as long as she can remember.

Our other writers are, well, you. We have Guest Writers from within all different areas of the alopecia community. They may be blog writers already or may just have a single story to tell, but all are a vital part of what we do here.

Our philosophy is about approaching alopecia as an experience and as an identity, not as a disorder to be overcome. As well as discussing alopecia-specific experiences and advice, we focus on wider issues of image, identity and lifestyle. We’ll be posting articles, opinions and stories centred around the many ways AA affects our lives and impacts who we are.
This project has been proudly developed and supported by the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation Inc.

If you’re looking for information about Alopecia Areata, how and why it occurs and how to manage the condition, click here to access the AAAF site. If you’re looking for support for people with Alopecia Areata within Australia, AAAF has state based support groups, Support Ambassadors and a variety of tools and resources you can access from here. For parents seeking resources for a child with alopecia, click here to access the AAAF Parents Support Page, which include links to our School Pack and Parents Brochure.

Please feel welcome to browse the site, chat with us in the comments and follow us to stay up to date. If you’re interest in writing for us, we’d love to hear from you! Please drop us a line at lovealopecia@gmail.com