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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18729

Ms JANN McFARLANE (4:18 PM) —I am pleased to add my voice to those of my colleagues on both sides of the House in support of this private member's motion on diabetes and the Kids in the House event. As a member of the Parliamentary Diabetes Support Group, I have increased my awareness of diabetes and my understanding of its complications and their impact on children and adults with diabetes and on their families, friends and local communities.

When asked, I willingly gave my support to the Kids in the House events. I warmly welcome the 100 children with type 1 juvenile diabetes who will come to this place to ask for our bipartisan support in finding a cure for diabetes. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is a fantastic group of people. In organising this event, they have drawn us together across all parties. Their theme, `Promise to remember me', has struck deeply. I can assure the children and their families and supporters that we are working to develop new policies and funding ideas for medical research. The foundation has arranged for each of us to meet a child from our electorates. I look forward to the meeting I will be having on Wednesday, 20 August 2003 with a child and her family from the Stirling electorate to hear how diabetes and its treatment affect her life.

As my colleagues have pointed out, diabetes costs the community around $5 billion a year. Ms Sheila Royles from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation tells us that around $35 million is invested in research but that we need to increase our investment in medical research. It is wonderful to read and hear that Australian scientists and institutions have achieved breakthroughs in their research. I draw the attention of the House to a research project at the Westmead Millenium Institute, under the leadership of Professor Phil O'Connell, by a young researcher, Dr Anne Lehnert. Dr Lehnert's recent lecture talked about the possibility of a cure for diabetes via the transplant of islets. A local community newspaper reported:

Transplant specialists, led by Westmead researchers, are one step closer to finding a cure for diabetes using pig cells.

The report went on to say that it had taken researchers five years to complete. The project developed two models to test drugs that prevent the rejection of islets. I understand that this research was achieved through three separate grants, each of three years, from the National Health and Medical Research Council. Researchers tell me that three-year grants are helpful but that realistically research needs grants of at least five years to 10 years. The newspaper article reported that the next stage of the Westmead Millenium Institute research project will take another five years.

Dr Anne Lehnert's work is just one aspect of the research into finding a cure for diabetes. Research is going on in many other countries. In her lecture, Dr Lehnert talks about this other research, including research in the United Kingdom that has successfully reproduced a Gal knockout pig. This pig will enable research on transplants to be progressed. Researchers look to the government to ensure that, when needed, the Gal knockout pig can be imported into Australia for use by local researchers. I look forward to hearing of the progress of the research work continuing at the Westmead Millennium Institute, under the guidance of Professor Phil O'Connell, into finding a cure for diabetes.

The Kids in the House event has taken place because of the support of many people. The Parliamentary Diabetes Support Group was proud to be asked to work with the group to help this happen, but it would not have happened without the support of the major sponsors: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation did the organisation as well as some funding; Qantas, `the spirit of Australia', has shown that spirit, because they are bringing the 100 children to the House; and Medibank Private is also a sponsor. As well, additional support has been given by Roche Diagnostics, Novo Nordisk, Aventis Pharma, Eli Lilly, Rydges Hotels, Channel 7, Australian Associated Press and Edelman Public Relations. This sponsorship is a different way of supporting the efforts for finding a cure for diabetes so that children and adults affected can live a long and healthy life. I will read to you a little of the media release put out by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It says:

The children will be accompanied on their journey by parents, siblings, friends and scientists, including special guest from Canada, Dr Jonathon Lakey. Dr Lakey is a world-leading expert in Islet transplantation, research widely considered to be the most likely source for a cure for type 1 diabetes.

I look forward to meeting Dr Lakey, I look forward to meeting the 100 children and I look forward to contributing to any effort that will help find a cure for diabetes.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is therefore adjourned and will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.