Three Minute Squiz With… Steve Sant

Steve Sant is CEO of Parkinson’s Australia, the peak body representing 70,000 Aussies living with the progressive neurological disease. Having worked in the sector for most of his career, Sant knows his way around a health policy issue or two. On World Parkinson’s Day, we asked Steve to join us for a ThreeMinute Squiz.

Where and how do you Squiz?
One of the first emails I open at work for a quick look at the world.

What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did?
Ability to read minds, it would save so much time.

What was the first concert you ever went to?
Bee Gees, yes they did come to Canberra a long time ago.

Name four people – living or dead – you’d love to sit down to dinner with.
Albert Einstein who was not only a genius but had great insights into life. Ned Kelly, not sure why Australia idealises a thief and murderer – it would be good to meet him to know why. Gough Whitlam brought about real changes to Australia and I would like to know how he thinks we are going. And my dad, he would really enjoy the conversation.

The best piece of advice your mother or father gave you?
Be fair.

What is the greatest quality in a friend?
Telling it the way it is.

Today is Parkinson’s Awareness Day. What would you like your fellow Squizers to know about this horrible disease and the people it affects?
Parkinson’s can affect anybody in our community, the cause is not known and there are no treatments that can slow, stop or reverse the condition. It is a different journey for each person, some will have it for 30 years and be relatively stable while some will progress rapidly and have significant symptoms in only a few years.

Why you became involved?
Charities such as Parkinson’s Australia, have a very clear purpose to benefit the community and everyone has that in mind in everything they do. That’s why I work for Parkinson’s Australia.

Parkinson’s affects a lot of Aussies. In simple terms, what is it?
Cells in part of the brain start to die which leads to a range of symptoms: people find it difficult to move, may have tremors but the symptoms extend to just about every body system. Other Parkinson’s symptoms can include, sleep disorders, pain, depression and anxiety, swallowing difficulty, speech problems and depression/anxiety.

Michael J Fox has done a great job of advocating for Parkinson’s patients and research. Has his advocacy been a breakthrough for the cause?
It has been helpful in highlighting the issue but Parkinson’s is still poorly understood in our community. We still don’t know what causes Parkinson’s but in the last year, there have been a few clinical trials that indicate that we may be able to slow the progression of Parkinson’s but there still is a long way to go.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
Obviously ball tampering… Why we are obsessed with this when other issues such as out-of-pocket medical expenses, mental health and homelessness don’t get the adequate coverage I don’t know…

Get the Squiz Today newsletter

It's a quick read and doesn't take itself too seriously. Get on it.