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#7 The Bureaucracy of Being Unwell

Listen to #7 The Bureaucracy of Being Unwell

Sadly, Lara Irvine passed away before this episode was released. The interview is being released in accordance with her family's wishes and to honour Lara's memory.

Photo of Lara Irvine and her dog

Lara Irvine and her dog

So you’ve got your diagnosis down pat, you’ve found a doctor – or team of doctors – who have helped get your illness under control, and you’ve worked out you’re too sick to work (in the traditional sense). Now’s the time to apply for government assistance, and that’s an easy process that’s not dehumanising, right? Of course not! That would be a much shorter interview! Many disabled and chronically ill people find themselves having to become experts in navigating the bureaucracy of government support just to get the help they need to survive. In this episode of Pill Pop, hosts Silvi and Izzie interview one such person: Lara Irvine.

Lara Irvine was a writer from Ballarat who dealt with a number of chronic conditions including scleroderma, which almost completely shut down her digestive system. The year before she died, she told us about her experiences of trying to prove to the NDIS that she qualified for the support she needed.

Content warning: this episode includes discussions of severe illness, hospitals, medical trauma.

Please note: In this episode, the following acronyms are used: NDIS – National Disability Insurance Scheme; DSP – Disability Support Pension.

Further reading

Get in touch

We want to hear from our listeners! Tweet us your stories of navigating government support systems at @PillPopCast, or send us an email at

In this episode

Hosted, produced and edited by Silvi Vann-Wall and Izzie Austin. Writer Lara Irvine is our guest.

Recorded at Studio 757, Melbourne and Silvi and Izzie's respective home offices. This series is produced in partnership with the Wheeler Centre's Signal Boost programme. Mentorship and production support from Bec Fary.

Music: 'Dip Dop' by Barrie Gledden; 'Sad Marimba Planet', 'Thought Bubbles' and 'More on That Later' by Lee Rosevere. Sound effects sourced from


A transcript of this episode will be available soon.


Portrait of Silvi Vann-Wall

Silvi Vann-Wall

Silvi Vann-Wall is an audio producer and podcaster, with a strong journalism background. She loves making weird and wonderful audio and is usually found with headphones on. She has lived with a chronic illness for ten years and this informs her current work.

Portrait of Izzie Austin

Izzie Austin

Izzie Austin is a zinester and postgraduate student who grew up in Brisbane with several cats, and now lives in Brunswick with just one cat. They are currently undertaking a PhD in cinema studies and working on Pill Pop – a podcast about chronic illnesses, including their own messed-up pancreas.

Pill Pop

An audio road trip for the chronically ill.

Pill Pop is hosted by two chronically ill people – Izzie and Silvi – who take you on a road trip through chronic-illness country. Izzie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a young kid, and Silvi was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as a teenager.

We've lived the majority of our lives with illness, and now it's time to share our stories with people just like us. So hop on in to the back seat of our secondhand ambulance and buckle up for the trip of a lifetime!

At each Pill Pop Pit Stop, we'll interview a guest about their life with chronic illness, covering everything from the funny, the sad and the flat-out gross. Each episode will take you on a journey – from diagnosis, to finding a good doctor, to accepting that your illness is forever.

For anyone who's wondering what it's like to be chronically ill, we use the power of audio to fully immerse each listener in the body of our guests! It's like the episode of The Magic School Bus Ms Frizzle didn't want you to know about.