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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12647


Mr RAMSEY (Grey) (21:50): On Saturday 20 October I was given the pleasure—and, indeed, the honour—of meeting the Clarke family from Port Augusta. David and Jo are, by any standards, great young parents. They have three children, and they are just the type of family we all love to have in our electorates. They are motivated, good parents. David was a tiler and has just become a train driver, and I congratulate him. He is looking forward to his new career.

But their life has been a little rockier than that of most young families. A little over two years ago their daughter Lexi, now six, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes. My meeting with the Clarkes was part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk for diabetes. It was a great pleasure to sit down with Lexi and her mother. Lexi told me about her challenge in life—how she spent a good part of the last 12 months in and out of hospital with chronic asthma; how her mother, Jo, gave up work so she could spend time with her daughter through that period and do what caring parents have to do: be with their children and make sure they get the best outcome.

I tell you these stories about Lexi, and she sounds sick, but she certainly did not look sick on the day I met her—she was an absolute delight. I must say, if the aim of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation with the Walk with Diabetes is having these young people meet with parliamentarians and pulling our heartstrings, it certainly worked. But we did get to discuss the serious issues about how to tackle life. Lexi had done a beautiful little drawing for me, and gave me a jar of jelly babies, which I am yet to attack but which I have put on one of the desks in my office so that we can explain the cause.

I walked the 3.2 kilometres with Lexi. I got to carry her a bit of the way too, I must admit, and pop her up on my shoulders, which I used to do with my own children. That was a great pleasure for me—as I said, it was an honour—but the challenge that the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation places on us parliamentarians is that we do something to help find a cure for this disease.

On 28 and 29 of November the JDRF will again be in parliament for the Kids in the House, and I know most members will be making sure they meet their local representatives. Since 1970 the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has put more than $1.6 billion into research, trying to find a worldwide cure. I know they are currently seeking funds to try and have advanced clinical trials in Australia, and I know this is one of the issues that reaches across all sides of parliament—trying to find really good outcomes for the kids, not only in our electorates but right throughout Australia.

My own niece was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 17, which is really quite a rare occurrence. She deals very well with her life. And the advent of the pumps has certainly made a real difference to the many people who suffer from this disease, and has certainly made a great difference to Lexi's life. I congratulate the way the family faces their challenges, and I urge all members to make time to speak to this fantastic organisation when they come back in the next week of parliament. All members should give great consideration to what they have to say. Thank you.