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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13096


Mr VAN MANEN (Forde) (11:18): I too would like to thank the member for Shortland for bringing this motion to the House. One of the privileges of our role as parliamentarians is the opportunity to meet with and listen to the stories of a wide variety of people in our electorates. It was in this way that I first came to hear the personal story of somebody in my electorate with type 1 diabetes. I will never forget that meeting or hearing the story of young Josie Hingst, a grade 6 student at St Joseph's Tobruk Memorial School in Beenleigh. This bright-eyed, smiley, confident young lady is the last person you would suspect of being unwell. Josie invited me to her school to listen to her presentation in front of her classmates about living with type 1 diabetes, a condition she has had since she was five years old. This young lady could most certainly have a future in politics, as she gave a flawless, entertaining and, at times, humorous presentation on the misconceptions and realities surrounding living life with type 1 diabetes. For starters, Josie shared with her classmates the fact that diet has absolutely nothing to do with getting type 1 diabetes and she said it made her very angry for people to assume she has the disease because of some form of self-neglect. There are a lot of people who do not understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease—it just happens. The pancreas stops making insulin, which we need because without it the cells in our body cannot break down the sugar from our food into energy. This means the body cannot do what it needs to do to stay alive.

Josie is a passionate ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's 'Promise to Remember Me' campaign and is one of two young ambassadors whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know in the electorate of Forde. The other is Caitlin Watt, a young lady who also suffers type 1 diabetes. She is a grade 11 student at Trinity College in Beenleigh. She was diagnosed when she was 22 months old and has been living with the condition ever since. At seven years of age, Caitlin said she had to worry about where to do her finger pricks at school and what was going to happen if she had a 'hypo attack' in class. Most seven-year-olds only have to worry about making friends and their plans for the weekends. It is just so different for young people who suffer from this disease.

To give you an idea of what it is like for these two young ladies, Caitlin has had over 22½ thousand insulin injections and has pricked her fingers to check for blood sugar levels over one million times. Josie used to have at least 1,500 needles a year before moving to a 24/7 insulin pump. It is not easy to monitor insulin and blood glucose levels, either. They have to measure the exact amount of carbohydrates they consume to ensure the right dosage of insulin to avoid having a hypoglycaemic attack.

For these bright young ladies, all they want is a lifestyle that is free from the daily regime of needles, cleaning out cannulas and getting run down, a freedom that the rest of us take for granted. Not even on their birthdays or for Christmas do they get to take a day off from the hourly checks and insulin balancing acts. It also puts an awful lot of pressure on the parents and families, as they learn how to look after their children all over again. It is never easy to have a sick child, and I would like to thank the parents with children in the same position as Josie and Caitlin for helping their children with this burden to ensure they are able to live as normal lives as possible.

As other speakers have mentioned, this week children living with type 1 diabetes will attend Parliament House as part of the annual Kids in the House awareness program for type 1 diabetes. Josie, along with 100 other children from around Australia, will be taking part. I hope they all have a wonderful experience at Parliament House later in the week and that we as parliamentarians get out and support these children and the juvenile diabetes campaign. (Time expired)