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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13095

Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (11:14): I rise in support of the motion of the member for Shortland, and commend her for bringing it to the attention of this place. Type 1 diabetes is a life-long autoimmune disease, that usually occurs in childhood but can be diagnosed at any age, affecting over 122,000 people in Australia alone. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system mistakenly turning on itself, destroying beta cells within the pancreas and removing the body's ability to produce insulin.

I represent an electorate in Western Sydney, an area which has the highest prevalence of diabetes in New South Wales, with seven out of the state's 10 hotspots for diabetes. In fact, between 2005 and 2010 the rate of diabetes in Western Sydney has more than doubled. There is therefore a special obligation on me to support this motion and to highlight the importance of diabetes awareness, including understanding the differences between the various forms of the disease.

In my electorate of Greenway, 6,877 people are living with type 1 diabetes. I have had the privilege of meeting with a number of these constituents and listening to their stories, and I bring them to the attention of the House today. I recently sat down with my constituents, Claudia Jane Wood and her mum Jo, to talk about the type 1 diabetes that Claudia Jane suffers and the Promise to Remember Me campaign. What a brave and positive young woman. I could not even contemplate—and I am sure that many of us here could not either—having such a disease and living with it so positively. I was so impressed by her outlook on life, on living it to the full, as well as the support of her family. She self-medicates, but that has not stopped her from going on beach holidays and remaining an active sportswoman.

As a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation advocate, Ms Wood is working to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications through the support of research. I look forward to joining Ms Wood and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation this Thursday for the Kids in the House event in the Great Hall, and I encourage all members to visit.

I also acknowledge my constituents Kenneth Shepherd and Sarah Pyke for their work as members of the Australian Diabetes Council. Both Mr Shepherd and Miss Pyke have highlighted to me the challenges faced by people with diabetes, including the need for access to essential services. Miss Pyke is insulin dependant and required four injections every day. Both Mr Shepherd and Miss Pyke have conveyed to me that access to health professionals and good management of diabetes can prevent complications and help people with diabetes to live long and healthy lives. And there are scores of other constituents who have contacted me in recent weeks who have brought their own stories of type 1 diabetes to my attention. Although time does not permit me to name you all individually today, I acknowledge each of you and your commitment and advocacy.

Since 2010 I have fought to improve health services in my electorate, and I am very proud of the investment that we have been able to make, including more hospital beds and investments in elective surgery at Blacktown Hospital, $17.6 million for the Blacktown Clinical School, $15 million for the Blacktown GP superclinic, more GP registrations, massive investment in primary care infrastructure and the Healthy Communities Initiative. But these are, of course, in response to huge regional challenges that we face in Western Sydney. So we need to respond now, and we need to keep it up.

I also note that the Commonwealth government funds the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network, the CRN, which helps to facilitate faster progress towards curing, treating and preventing type 1 diabetes. Through clinical trials, successful type 1 diabetes research can be turned into new, accessible therapies and treatments for people suffering from type 1 diabetes.

In closing, I again thank my constituents for bringing this important issue to my attention, and I acknowledge the member for Shortland for bringing this important motion to the House. As the tagline goes, I 'promise to remember' all people suffering from type 1 diabetes and to continue fighting for better health services for people in my electorate, including research into type 1 diabetes, to stamp out this cruel disease once and for all.