From humble beginnings to WA Young Leader for Diabetes, this is Tammy’s story.
“I grew up on a sheep and grain farm with my parents and three older sisters in a small country town called Dumbleyung. My diagnosis was a game changer; my parents had minimal knowledge of the condition and my sisters and I had never heard of it. The nearest large hospital was in Narrogin, an hour drive away, and I only had access to rural diabetes clinics once every three months. As a child, I didn’t make close friends with the other children at the diabetes clinics because they were older than me and I started to feel quite alone.
My involvement with the diabetes community occurred three years ago when I started my Preventive Health degree at The University of Notre Dame. I started practicum work with Diabetes WA by attending camps and attending any relevant seminars being held so I could learn more and place my name out there in the diabetes world. I attended two camps, sailed on the Leeuwin sailing ship, participated in the HBF Fun Run, Fremantle Half Marathon & 5km Fun Run and spoke at a diabetes and mental health awareness seminar. My involvement led to my successful nomination as the WA Young Leader for Diabetes and, from this, I automatically became a part of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Young Leaders Program and was given the opportunity to attend the Young Leaders Training and IDF’s World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver.
My first week consisted of the IDF’s Young Leader training. We were taught who everyone was, their countries, their regions, their burdens, their achievements, the type of diabetes they have, their story and how the government in their home country handles diabetes. Unfortunately, I learnt that there are systemic hardships placed on individuals living with diabetes in many nations around the world.
In regards to the Australian government, they are doing an incredible job but there are still some sectors that need to be worked on. However I have now come to realise that if a problem occurs or, in particular cases such as a death, the public is very quick to act and bring it to the attention of people who need to change policies. The Australian diabetes community is extremely fortunate that most of the diabetes supplies are heavily subsidised with the exception of Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM), which at present is going through parliament to be re-evaluated. The technology and research here is some of the best in the world and we must remember how incredibly privileged we are to live in a country that goes above and beyond in keeping us alive. Another sector which needs to be looked into is that of new glucose monitors. There are a vast amount of monitors accessible throughout the UK and Europe and we do not have them.
Through my participation in the Young Leader training I learnt about incredible organisations and campaigns like insulin4all, t1international, Spare a Rose campaign, Diathlete, DASH and Life for a Child. The work is being delivered by normal everyday people who work exceptionally hard to improve the lives of children, adolescents and adults with this condition. More awareness is required for these organisations.
I met young leaders that work in their country’s parliament – young people who, at their age, have more energy and passion than an entire room full of government officials wanting a pay increase. There were leaders with Facebook pages that I have been following for years and have now had the surreal opportunity to meet, and others who have developed their own forums, blogs, organisations, companies, camps, seminars and safe meeting zones. These young leaders, aged 18 – 30, have overcome so many obstacles in their lives while encumbered with this condition and are pushing the boundaries in a really positive way.
The Congress, for me, was incredible! It was amazing to have thousands of people in one venue who are so passionate and knowledgeable about this one cause. I attended numerous seminars and also sat in on the closing speech of past IDF President Sir Michael Hirst and the opening speech of the new IDF President Dr Shaukat Sadikot.
The best part for me was having the opportunity to meet people such as Greg Johnson, Diabetes Australia CEO, The Hon Judi Moylan, Independent President and Board Chair of Diabetes Australia, and Guy Barnett, Liberal Party member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly. I also spoke to Tom Boyer, the USA Director of Government Affairs. Other highlights included delivering a speech at the Partners Dinner in front of 200 people, being part of the Opening Ceremony for IDF World Congress and being elected the Regional Chair Elect for the Western Pacific Region.
I have come from humble beginnings and am now the WA Young Leader for Diabetes, the Regional Chair Elect for the Western Pacific Region, as well working in the diabetes field every day. Life can change, and it can take some time but it will happen – you just have to put in the hard work and commitment.”
Check out Tammy’s World Diabetes Day ‘I wish people knew…’ video. Click here.
Hear more from Tammy in the upcoming edition of our member magazine Diabetes Matters. Become a Diabetes WA member.
Tammy is a Diabetes Project Officer at One Healthy Community.