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Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Page: 8509

Ms KATE ELLIS (Minister for Youth and Minister for Sport) (9:51 AM) —At one of my recent regular Saturday morning street corner meetings I had the great pleasure of meeting Ms Eunice Kermode. Ms Kermode is one of the Coeliac Society of South Australia’s most passionate volunteers and has spent 26 years in service to the organisation and to coeliac sufferers in South Australia. I rise today to note the important contribution of volunteers such as Ms Kermode and of the Coeliac Society of South Australia. In doing so, I note that there are similar societies across much of the rest of Australia who are doing almost as good a job as their South Australian colleagues.

The society is a not-for-profit charity that promotes understanding and general awareness of the problems coeliac disease sufferers face and provides a support network to help sufferers with dietary treatment and the management of their disease. They currently have more than 1,300 members in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Ms Kermode informed me of the difficulties her son and all coeliac sufferers face during their lives. The disease is estimated to affect one per cent of the population, but it is not widely recognised and often goes undiagnosed. It is an autoimmune disease that leads to the flattening of the lining of the small intestine. If coeliac disease goes untreated, nutrients are poorly absorbed, often resulting in complications which include osteoporosis caused by calcium malabsorption, infertility, miscarriage, depression and other problems.

The only effective treatment for the condition is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Following a gluten-free diet can be enormously difficult for sufferers of coeliac because gluten is found in wheat, barley, oats and other cereal grains. Many foods, condiments and drinks, including bread, pasta, cakes, pastries and even beer, cannot be consumed. However, as the work of these societies continues and awareness grows about coeliac disease, more and more places are catering for gluten-free diets.

Ms Kermode has kept some very detailed and interesting records of the work of the Coeliac Society of South Australia by maintaining copies of their first cookbook and other publications from the past 26 years. I have been pleased to be able to work with her and make contact with the Mortlock Collection at the State Library of South Australia, which will now be trying to find a permanent home for Ms Kermode’s collection of the history of coeliac disease in South Australia. The work of individuals like Ms Kermode and all those at the Coeliac Society of South Australia has increased public awareness of coeliac disease and, as such, has improved the lives of thousands of South Australians diagnosed with the disease. I commend their contribution to our community to the Parliament of Australia and thank them for their great service.