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Thursday, 25 July 2019
Page: 1087


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (10:06): Today I want to address an important matter in my electorate but also a very important matter right across the country, and that is the increasing prevalence of diabetes in our country, which is approaching—I hesitate to use the word but I use it advisedly—crisis levels. We have an urgent national task of tackling diabetes, and it is a task that needs to be tackled by governments—federal, state and local—but also by communities. In my community of McMahon—particularly in Fairfield, where over 15,000 people have been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes—certainly we are doing that.

Last week was National Diabetes Week. I took the opportunity to issue a video about the issue of diabetes in my electorate and across Australia. The theme of National Diabetes Week was 'It's about time'—it's about time to get checked, it's about time to take preventative measures, it's about time to tackle the issue. Of course we would all agree with that.

Diabetes has several different forms and it affects our communities in different ways. In Western Sydney it is a very big issue to be tackled. As I said, 15,000 people, just in the Fairfield local government area, have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It does impact on socioeconomically disadvantaged areas much more strongly than others. It also impacts Indigenous Australians, our Indigenous brothers and sisters, more than non-Indigenous Australians, as well as those people living in remote and rural areas. Western Sydney is the metropolitan capital of diabetes in Australia, but it's certainly not the capital of diabetes when compared to rural and regional areas.

This is also an issue which affects many young people. Many honourable members and colleagues would have been impacted by their discussions with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In my own case, I've had a long relationship with young Jennifer Biggin, who doesn't actually live in my electorate—she lives just outside my electorate in the electorate of my friend and colleague the member for Fowler—but has been a very regular interlocutor with me about the need to lift the profile of juvenile diabetes in Australia. She approached my office when she was 10, seeking a meeting, and I've met with her on several occasions since then. She is a fine individual.

I've also had pamphlets distributed from my office outlining important information for people tackling diabetes. We have held diabetes forums arranged by my electorate office. We will hold more of those in coming weeks and months. I want to take this opportunity in the House to urge all involved, including the federal government and other levels of government, to tackle the issue of diabetes. Fairfield City Council, in my electorate, has a proactive plan which involves the installation of exercise equipment in local parks. It's good to see, when I'm out walking in our local parks, people using that exercise equipment. I congratulate the Fairfield City Council for that initiative. But we all need to be doing more to tackle the issue of diabetes in Western Sydney and more broadly in the community. Certainly that will be a focus of my time as shadow minister for health.