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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13094


Mrs MOYLAN (Pearce) (11:08): I would like to thank the member for Shortland for bringing this very important motion forward. On Thursday, as she said, 100 young Australians from across the country will come to Parliament House with one request: 'Promise to remember me.' These young Australians are but a handful of more than 120,000 people, mostly young people, already diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, for which there is no known cure and we do not know the cause. Diabetes is a debilitating illness that can impair a person's quality of life. It requires a lifetime of complex intervention. It is a major cause of limb amputation, blindness and renal failure, amongst other things. People with diabetes have a much increased risk of developing heart disease and other vascular diseases. So it is a very serious illness.

Whilst we do not know the cause of juvenile diabetes we do know at least two critical points. We know that insulin is not a cure. We are very grateful to Frederick Banting for having found insulin, because without it people would simply die, but it is not a cure. There is a flame in Canada which burns brightly. It will continue to burn until the next step is taken—that is, a cure is found for diabetes—and then the light will be extinguished. The other critical point is that diabetes disproportionately affects Australians. Worryingly, Australia is ranked seventh highest in the world for the number of people with type 1 diabetes, when our total population is not even in the top 50 countries. The number of newly diagnosed cases also continues to rise each year.

If we in this place are serious about our promise to remember—I know that many members over the years have ben deeply moved by the presentations of young people who have come to put their case to this parliament—the action that we really need to take speedily is to ensure that there is a consistent, coherent approach to research for a cure for diabetes. We have some of the best researchers in the world, and they are working very hard to collaborate with other leading researchers in diabetes not just across Australia but also globally, so that the money we put into research is well used. Our chances of success are enhanced by these national and international collaborations.

We do not know when the day will come that a cure will be found but we know that it will never come unless the first steps are taken along that journey. The opportunity is with us now, today, this year. Kids in the House are asking that the government commit to $35 million in funding for a clinical research network to test potential breakthroughs—and there have been some amazing breakthroughs. I do not have time to go into those, unfortunately, at this point of time, but I would just like to say that along with research we need to ensure that our young people have access to best-practice medicine. One of the programs that we tried to get implemented—it is still not working as efficiently as it might—is an insulin pump and continuous glucose sensors.

I had a very sad letter from a constituent who is now deceased. She wrote this letter to me and never got to post it because, as a result of a hypoglycaemic episode and her inability to afford continuous glucose sensors after her endocrinologist suggested it would be life-saving for her, she passed away. She became unconscious in her bed, having worked a night shift. This young woman was not wearing a continuous glucose sensor. She was unable to be revived and passed away. It is a sad fact that there are many Australians for whom that is the reality, including very young children. So I ask members of the parliament to support a move to make sure these devices are available. (Time expired)