October 25, 2018

This Sunday, 28 October at Colley Reserve in Glenelg, I am proud to be talking part in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s “One Walk” for a world without Type 1 diabetes. The JDRF was founded by parents of children with type 1 diabetes, bringing together a grass roots network of parents and their children living with the disease. One Walk events have raised $85 million worldwide to date, but there is still more to be done.

Shanna McGrath from the JDRF is a fantastic South Australian young leader.  I first met Shanna when she was just 15 in the 2012 “Promise to Remember Me” campaign for JDRF’s Kids in the House. Shanna was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 6, and has now been living with the condition for 15 years. The condition affects many areas of her life – Shanna always has to think about what she’s eating, how she’s exercising, and many other things that could affect her blood sugar levels, and her future health.

Since that 2012 visit, Shanna has grown into a uniquely impressive young leader. She is the Lead JDRF Government Advocate for South Australia. She’s never let diabetes hold her back – she has travelled widely, gone skydiving, and even started her own small business.

In August this year she returned to Parliament House as part of the 2018 Kids in the House delegation. Although Shanna has learned to live with the condition, she strives for a cure – not just for herself, but for the nearly 150,000 people living with Type 1 diabetes in Australia.

Shanna brought with her five year old Theodore Aslanidis, and his mother Julie, from my electorate. Theodore was diagnosed in September last year, when he was just 4.

This was a scary, difficult time for Theodore and his parents, and to this day remains a relentless and tireless effort of needles, insulin, finger pricks and food monitoring to keep him healthy.  In years gone by this would have been even more nerve wracking for the Aslanidis family, without the progress achieved by JDRF. Research into technologies such as insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitoring, allows parents like Julie to constantly check Theodore’s blood sugar on their phone – even while Theodore is sleeping or at school.

Now their focus is a cure that would mean kids like Theodore can live a carefree life, and parents like Julie can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their child won’t suffer a dangerous high or low at any moment. The JDRF’s Clinical Research Network is aiming for $50 million in funding over 5 years to focus on research for a cure.

I look forward to walking with the JDRF on Sunday in their non-partisan SA Pollies Team, and encourage all my South Australian colleagues, from all sides, to join me in walking to make type one, type none.