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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13102


Mr GEORGANAS (HindmarshSecond Deputy Speaker) (11:43): I rise to speak in favour of this motion by the member for Shortland and its recognition of all children with type 1 diabetes. It is always sad to see young people afflicted with such a disease—children who are trying to lead a carefree life with their friends, exploring the world and testing their limits. It is sad for people so young to be confronted with such an issue with their health and having to face their survival every day. It is a fundamental issue. We know that people with diabetes, whether it is type 1 or type 2, are up to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Over two-thirds of Australians who died of cardiovascular disease had diabetes or pre-diabetes five years prior to their heart attack or stroke.

It does not have to be that way. I love speaking to young people. This week we have many young people joining us to talk about diabetes, including type 1 diabetes. I love giving them a personal story about diabetes. My father, who is 85 years old, has been a type 1 diabetic for well over 45 years. He has led a healthy lifestyle, he is active and is far more fit than I am, I would say. He rides his bike, walks every day and has two to three injections every day, and has been doing so for over 45 years.

That is the other side of it: if you do look after yourself and manage your diabetes carefully, you can have a normal life like anyone else. My father is living proof of that. As I said, he is much fitter than I am; he still rides his bike eight to 10 kilometres three to four times a week at 85 years of age. I certainly hope that young Australians who learn to manage their diabetes at a relatively young age have its management as a central element of their routine throughout their lives and that, with that superior management, they will defy the statistics that I read out earlier and join those of us who are more likely to live a longer, more complete and healthier life.

Australian researchers are leading the world in their work towards finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, through several highly regarded organisations. I, for one, have had most to do with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which conducts a fundraising walk in my electorate every year. I am very honoured to be invited every year to do the opening and sound the siren for everyone to take off in their walk from Glenelg to Somerton Park. It is always a terrific occasion, with many enthusiastic participants and supporters, generating a great crowd every year. Fundraising is necessary for the ongoing research toward a cure. Some discoveries have happened by accident, without apparent effort, but in this case a tremendous amount of work is required for relatively modest gains.

I would like to pay my respects to the consummate professionals in the medical research field, who all of us here in this place see and speak with on a regular basis, here in Australia and around the world—those who conduct the studies and those in the organisational wing which make the research possible so we can find a cure in the future. I must say how much I respect each and every young Australian with type 1 diabetes, for taking on board the knowledge of the disease, informing us as their members of parliament, maintaining the management regime that is required, and putting up with the limitations and complications that result from being just that little bit different to others—and just that little bit more special as well.

One such young Australian, who sets a very good example of maturity and grace for us all, is Casey Stubing, whose company I will have the pleasure of sharing at the JDRF Kids in the House luncheon in the Great Hall, Parliament House, on Thursday. I have met with her and her parents in my electorate office as well as on the walk we conducted in my electorate. I presented her with an award at her primary school's year 7 graduation ceremony. We met again a couple of months ago when she visited to discuss the walk, and it will be an absolute pleasure this week to speak with her again and spend time with both her and her family here in Parliament House.

Meeting and speaking with people like Casey reminds us all of the reality of type 1 diabetes, its presence, prevalence and impact, and our need to continue to work towards solutions to improve to the management that Casey and so many others maintain each and every day. Thank you, Casey, and all those who have come to Canberra this week to remind us of and keep us focussed on type 1 diabetes and the funds required to do the necessary research toward better management techniques, prevention and a cure.