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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18727


Mr QUICK (4:09 PM) —On Wednesday 100 children with insulin dependent diabetes from all states across Australia will meet the Prime Minister and my fellow parliamentarians to ask for our support in finding a cure for the disease. Insulin dependent diabetes occurs when the pancreas no longer makes insulin and glucose cannot enter the muscles. To survive, people with insulin dependent diabetes must take multiple daily injections of insulin and monitor their blood glucose levels every day. I well remember my mum going through this daily regime.

Insulin dependent diabetes affects one in 500 children and adolescents. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in its recently published National Diabetes Registrar Statistical Profile, December 2001reports that the incidence of newly diagnosed cases of children aged zero to 14 with insulin dependent diabetes is on the increase. In 2000 and 2001, 1,565 new cases of insulin dependent diabetes among children aged zero to 14 were recorded. The national diabetes register recorded an average annual rate of 20 new cases per 100,000 population for boys and 19 per 100,000 for girls. In 2000, unfortunately Australia was among those countries with a moderate to high incidence of insulin dependence for children aged zero to 14. Australia's rate of 18.7 new cases per 100,000 population is on a par with that of the United Kingdom and Canada. Australia's children have the world's third highest incidence of insulin dependent diabetes—some-thing which we should not claim as being of great note. The disease is usually diagnosed in children but it can also occur in adults. Unfortunately, there are over 100,000 Australians with this condition.

Those children who suffer from insulin dependent diabetes are best placed to describe its effect on their lifestyle. I was visited recently by two young people who have insulin dependent diabetes. Sixteen-year-old Trent Ferguson and 14-year-old Sarah Thompson gave me some insight into what it is like to have this disease. Trent showed me his little plastic container full of all the used syringes. He took some of my blood—with some reluctance on my part—and tested it for diabetes. However, it is only people who have insulin dependent diabetes, who live with it on a daily basis, who can fully understand what it is like living with this disease. I received a great letter from Trent. He wrote:

It was really good going to see you ... Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. It was really appreciated. I'm glad you had a good blood sugar level and that you don't have diabetes—

so was I—

It makes life much more difficult living with diabetes, so I really hope they find a cure soon ... Thank you for all your support.

The House today notes the devastating long-term health complications for children with insulin dependent diabetes. These include hyperglycaemia, heart disease, microvascular disease, limb amputation and retinopathy. For Australian families and their children with insulin dependent diabetes these complications are possible and, sadly, do occur for some children who have this disease. Sheila Royles, the CEO of Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, recently said:

Children with diabetes suffer years of debilitating health problems from a disease that shortens their life by around 15 years ... Most government policies and research focus on type 2 diabetes. But unlike type 2, type 1 cannot be prevented, nor can it be managed by diet and other lifestyle choice.

There has been work done by researchers to find a cure through pancreatic islet cell transplantation. Research is the key to finding a transplant procedure that is safe and available to all children. This research provides hope to children with insulin dependent diabetes and their families. Investment in this research may also offer an opportunity to ultimately save some of the $5 billion that it costs to treat diabetes in Australia each year. While insulin dependent diabetics make up 10 per cent of the total diabetic population, they are responsible for 42 percent of the costs. The cost is made up mainly of expenses for treatment for complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.

There is a real need for the federal government to establish a national clinical islet cell transplantation and research grant to attract the world's best scientists to ensure Australia's position at the forefront of this global research. With Australia having the third highest incidence of children with insulin dependent diabetes in the world, it would seem quite a logical position that the government support this research. (Time expired)