At the age of 10 Tess Macartney was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. Over the last 4 years, Tess, with the help of her mum Mairi-anne and family, has been learning to live with this chronic disease. Tess has been a Youth Ambassador for Juvenile Diabetes, raising awareness in the community, fundraising and spending time with other children and families affected by this disease.
Tess and Mairi-anne are also active community campaigners. Last year they fought a campaign to ensure that the allowance for carer’s of children with diabetes was extended up to the age of 16. Tess and Mairi-anne along with other affected families in the region and Rachel Flaherty from the Berwick Leader organised and lobbied for the policy to be changed. Tess became the face of this campaign and played a significant part in the success of this endeavour which resulted in the reinstatement of this allowance in August 2011.
More recently, Tess and Mairi-anne are working on their next campaign – to have juvenile diabetes recognised in schools in the same way as asthma and anaphylaxis.
Since Tess has become a diabetic it has been a learning curve for the whole family each day. The hardest part for Tess is to take injections and then to finger prick herself each day. Both things are quite painful and at times it becomes a huge mental challenge, as she suffers from sore fingers. Also every time she eats which is four times a day then she has to have an injection.
In January 2011 both Mairi-Anne and Tess received a letter from the Government stating that the carer’s allowance of $50 a week that was used to purchase medical supplies would now be cancelled because children over the age of 10 years old like Tess could now take care for themselves. Upon receiving this news both Mairi-Anne and Tess thought it was ‘ludicrous’ and sought assistance from their local Federal MP, Anthony Byrne MP. Both Mairi-Anne and Tess were very appreciative of Anthony Byrne MP’s efforts to firstly listen to their concerns and then be their voice in conveying their concerns to the Government. According to Mairi-Anne & Tess, ‘Anthony Byrne MP was able to open the doors and make more people aware of the issue, in order for their voice to be heard. It is great for someone from Cranbourne to go to someone who listens to their concerns and then who takes it to the next level on your behalf’.
In order to gain some more publicity about the issue Tess also became the face of a local newspaper campaign run by the Leader, in order to get the carer’s allowance to be reinstated. In the end the campaign was successful and after an eight month campaign the carer’s allowance was reinstated In August 2011.
For the record Tess is also a youth ambassador for juvenile diabetes and in her role she often catches up with other young people who suffer from diabetes.
This year Mairi-Anne and Tess are selling jelly babies to raise funds for people who suffer from diabetes and over the coming weeks they will be out at shopping centres in Cranbourne and Lynbrook to sell jelly babies. Mairi-Anne and Tess are also working on a new campaign this year, as children like Tess are injecting life-saving medicine into their bodies without supervision. Mairi-Anne and Tess are currently in discussions with Anthony Byrne MP’s office to ultimately ensure children are supervised when they are injecting life-saving medicines into their bodies, which does occur for children who suffer from asthma and anaphylaxtics but not diabetes.