Standing up for Canberra

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Before I start, I would like to acknowledge the community in the gallery from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They have been very, very patient this afternoon in waiting for me to speak about the fantastic work they do. I want to thank the community here today for being so patient. I do apologise for the divisions—these people have the patience of saints! The fact that they have left school early and left work early to come to listen to this speech makes me feel very honoured and I am very honoured that they are still here. Thank you so much.

I first met Ellen Brown, who is here today, four years ago when she came to meet me at my office in Tuggeranong. She was an energetic and sporty 10-year-old at St John Vianney's Primary School in Waramanga. Our meeting was to discuss what it is like to live as a child with type 1 diabetes. She was a great reminder that, so long as it is managed and so long as it is monitored, diabetes does not have to get in the way of whatever it is you want to achieve. But management and monitoring cost money. The average Canberra family will pay around $20,000 a year in rent, they will pay anywhere between $250 and $25,000 for tuition and they will pay around $11,000 on groceries. The Brown family, as with the other families here—the Eveiles, Rhianna Poole, Casie Griffiths and the Coulters—know that, on top of those daily costs, they also have to pay the cost of an insulin pump, consumables and testing strips. There is the continuous glucose monitoring transmitter, alcohol wipes, sensors and health insurance. Altogether they will pay around $9,000 a year on top of every other cost faced by every other family in Canberra. And it is important that they can afford to do so because the management of diabetes is possible only for as long as it is affordable now and into the future. It is a lifelong autoimmune disease that affects more than 120,000 Australians and it is a common chronic disease in Australian children.

I caught up with these fantastic families in a recent event hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Ellen showed me her insulin pump and helped explain to me how the continuous glucose monitoring works. I got to hear about the challenges that these families face each day in terms of not being able to sleep at night, not being able to relax at night and having to constantly monitor and manage their child's diabetes. So hats off to all of them and hats off to James Eveille, who won the state volunteering award for a young person for the work that he does with his sister. Thank you so much for the contribution you make to our community, to our future generations and also to the foundation. I thank them again for their patience and for being here.

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