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Tuesday, 9 May 2000
Page: 16049

Mrs DE-ANNE KELLY (2:54 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Would the minister inform the House of his announcement last week on the funding for new research to prevent and cure diabetes?

Dr WOOLDRIDGE (Minister for Health and Aged Care) —I thank the honourable member for her question and for her interest. Diabetes affects some 700,000 to 800,000 Australians. The overwhelming majority have what is called type 2 diabetes, which affects adults later in life and can be treated with medication, diet and exercise. Around 100,000 Australians need insulin to control their diabetes. The majority of these people contract it in childhood, and it is called type 1 diabetes. Currently there are some 7,000 Australian children with type 1 diabetes and about 400 children a year newly develop type 1 diabetes.

For the last six months the Commonwealth has been in negotiation with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International about the possibility of Australia being a focus of JDFI's major international research effort to find a vaccine for juvenile diabetes. Some years ago this would have been thought to be an impossible dream, but with further understanding in receptor chemistry and the nature of rotavirus in involvement in developing diabetes there is a real possibility that Australia could actually develop a vaccine for diabetes. JDFI are a major research funder around the world, this year putting some $US85 million into research projects. They stated to me that they thought Australia was finally serious about biomedical science and they were prepared to look to us, and so together we were able to announce some $32.5 million of funding for immunological research to try and develop a vaccine for diabetes. JDFI have done an extraordinarily good job in this. They are the leaders in the world in funding biomedical research from the non-government sector. It is incredibly heartening to see such a worthwhile project addressing a very substantial community need while also displaying the vision of developing Australia's science and technology based growth.