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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13097

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (11:23): I would like to thank the member for Shortland for bringing this motion to the House and acknowledge the contributions by the members for Pearce, Greenway and Forde. It is nice to be having a bipartisan debate about a very important issue. We have heard all the members talk about their electorates and the people they have met. The member for Forde said it is a member of parliament's duty to get a window into the lives of other people. We do that around our electorate. We often come across situations that really strike at and call on your empathy. That is certainly true of juvenile diabetes.

There is no doubt that this is a very grave and serious illness. You would not wish it on anybody. The idea that a child could die in their sleep without warning is terrifying, particularly for parents. That is the terrifying reality for some people. It is something that we should be cognisant of when we are discussing this issue. It is a terrible disease. It is just lucky that the 123,000 Australians who suffer from it have such great advocates. Those advocates are often at the national level. They work in electorates around the country. The people who have come to see me most often are people like Karen Aswell and Jasmin Smith, who just graduated the other day from Trinity College and has her licence. She is looking to see what she will do in the world. That is a wonderful time in a young person's life. She is a tremendous advocate. I think that she is coming up for the Kids in the House event.

The other people who have been to see me are Marsanne Kerr and her daughter Imogen Kerr, who is a very active advocate; a very active emailer. Her mother, Marsanne, is famous in my electorate. The Barossa Herald, which is a very good paper, reported that she had taken to the skies and been part of a group of about 50 people from South Australia who skydived to raise money for and awareness of this issue. The jumpers were called 'Imogen's Heroes'. It was a big crowd—50 people, like I said—jumping from a height of 14,000 feet. Marsanne managed to do two somersaults in mid-air before sailing down to the ground with her instructor. That event raised $30,000. That is part of a massive fundraising effort.

It is a worldwide effort. This is not something that is suffered by just Australian families or Australian children. If you Google JDRF and particularly Kids in the House, some of the first links that come up are about an event that is being held with the Canadian parliament. This is a worldwide advocacy effort to help children and adults who have this rather terrible affliction. The money raised will fund clinical trials and fund things like insulin pumps and other things that help manage this illness and allow people—hopefully—to lead normal lives even with the disease. We hope in the longer term to find a cure.

Obviously, everybody in this House will be furiously lobbied towards the end of the week. We can only hope that there is a bipartisan consensus to keep up the fight against juvenile diabetes, to keep the research going, to keep the clinical trials going and to keep our focus on the 123,000 Australians who suffer from this disease.