Local Penrith Type 1 Diabetes Youth Advocate Takes Message to Parliament

Federal Member for Lindsay, Melissa McIntosh MP, discussed local advocacy for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) with Lindsay local and Youth 2023 Volunteer of the Year for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Emily Klimek, and her mother Mrs Julie Klimek, who is an endocrinology and diabetes nurse at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

As Deputy Chair of the House Standing Committee of Health, Aged Care and Sport, Mrs McIntosh met Emily at Parliament House in Canberra last week. Ms Klimek gave testimony on her lived experience with T1D at the first public hearing for the new inquiry into diabetes in Australia, in her capacity as a youth ambassador for the JDRF.

Ms Klimek, who is 15 years old, was diagnosed with the life-long condition of T1D at 2 years old. T1D is an autoimmune disease that makes the body incapable of producing insulin. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood in life-threatening amounts, and patients must take insulin through multiple daily injections or an insulin
pump.

“Since my diagnosis with T1D, my whole life has revolved around managing the disease. Every day has been dominated by my insulin management, with finger prick tests, insulin pumps, and needles. I can’t remember a day without diabetes,” Miss Klimek said.

“This year I was thrilled to be chosen as the JDRF 2023 Youth Volunteer of the Year, where I have been given a chance to speak on behalf of young people and share their stories on living with T1D.

“Volunteering for JDRF has given me an incredible purpose, because by adding my voice, I can increase awareness of the disease on a national stage as well as in my local community.

“Our hope is that one day, the solution will not be just diagnosis, treatment, and management of the disease. Our dream is that, through advances in research, clinical testing, and technology, we will be able to find a cure.

“We took a big step last week at the inquiry. I wanted to show the Committee that although living with T1D is not easy, through the help of the community, the JDRF, and support from the government, we can make a big improvement to the lives of many.”

“I have seen many young people struggle with the daily management of T1D and how it can negatively impact their lives. I am so proud of Emily and the way she has chosen to use her experience in a positive way to raise awareness and advocate for further research to help improve the lives of all those living with T1D,” said Emily’s mother Mrs Klimek.

Mrs McIntosh regards Miss Klimek’s work in the space of T1D awareness and research advocacy as an incredible feat.

“Emily is a strong young woman who is determined to make a difference on behalf of all the young people living with Type 1 diabetes,” said Mrs McIntosh.

“Last year as part of National Diabetes Week, Emily raised awareness with the media on a pilot screening program funded by JDRF and led by the University of Sydney, to determine through a simple saliva swab if infants aged between six and twelve months were at risk of developing Type 1 in childhood.

“As well as organising a fundraiser at her school in support of JDRF research, Emily participates annually in the JDRF One Walk, and this year she will be a Walk Host with her team ‘Emily’s Ladybugs.’

“One Walk is a fun challenge that all the community can get involved in at Penrith, by walking 125 kilometres over the month of October to raise money for research for the more than 125,000 Australians currently living with T1D.

“It was a great privilege to hear from Emily at the parliamentary Health Commitee’s public hearing and listen to what her journey with Type 1 has been like, as she has strongly represented on behalf of the one in three hundred children in Australia who has the disease.

“Our inquiry into diabetes is the first of its kind in Australia, with its scope including investigating the causes of diabetes across all the very different types, as well as seeing how we can use new evidence-based advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and management of this group of diseases.

“A key element of that is the consultation process with the diabetes community, so we can examine the effectiveness of current government policies and programs to respond to the most current data and develop a strategy to improve the state of diabetes in the nation.”

“I look forward immensely to further engaging with Emily for T1D advocacy in our local community going forward.”

Over the past 50 years, the not-for-profit JDRF has become a global leader in T1D research and has invested nearly $2 billion into developing an innovative therapies pipeline for the disease.

This October marks the 30th anniversary of the JDRF One Walk, established in 1993 by parents of T1D children to increase awareness of the disease and to fundraise for JDRF research. To get involved, you can register at:
www.walk.jdrf.org.au

The Type 1 Diabetes National Screening Pilot is still open and is accessible for Western Sydney families with eligible infants, you can find more information at: www.kidsdiabetesscreen.com.au

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