JDRF advocate Shanna McGrath receives Mark Butler Local Legend Award

May 19, 2023

Each year during National Volunteers Week, the Minister for Health, Hon Mark Butler, announces the winners of the Mark Butler MP Volunteer Awards.

These awards recognise the local volunteers in his electorate, Hindmarsh, who are dedicated to improving the needs of the community organisations they represent.

JDRF advocate, Shanna McGrath, was diagnosed with T1D when she was 6. Since the age of 10, Shanna has been a tireless type 1 diabetes (T1D) advocate and has been representing JDRF to her local member Minister Butler since 2011.

In recognition of her efforts, Shanna been awarded this year’s Hindmarsh Local Legend – an accolade celebrating the work of volunteers who have made an exceptional contribution to their community over many years, as determined by a judging panel.

This is an amazing achievement, and so well deserved for Shanna who has spent decades dedicated to T1D advocacy!

We spoke to Shanna about her T1D advocacy over the years, and what this award means to her:

I started volunteering with JDRF’s Advocacy Program at the age of 10 in 2007. I wanted to make a difference, use my voice and advocate for research funding as well as meet others living with type one diabetes (T1D). I attended the Kids in the House event at Parliament House in Adelaide in 2007, and then continued my advocacy work with JDRF over many years.

I met with the now Health Minister Mark Butler, my local Federal Member in 2011, at the age of 14. I had mentioned to Mark during our meeting that I was hoping to attend the Kids in the House event at Parliament House in Canberra that following year, but I knew there were only limited places available.

Mark took it upon himself to write to JDRF to recommend and to ensure that I was invited as his advocate for the 2012 Kids in the House. Thanks to Mark’s kind letter, I also had the opportunity to be the Master of Ceremonies and to really amplify the message that we need decision-makers to support the continuation of funding for the Clinical Research Network (the Network through which JDRF funds life-changing T1D research).  

In 2017, as a 20-year-old, I took on a volunteer role as the South Australian Lead Advocate to help support families in South Australia as they commenced their advocacy journeys, joining JDRF’s Advocacy Program.  

I have been able to see the real change that this program has made over the last 12 years, from research advancements and progress of technology now available for all living with type 1 diabetes. I have also had the pleasure of meeting many political figures, as well as maintaining my long-standing relationship with Minister Butler.

I am now 26 and can attest that JDRF’s advocacy program is truly special to be part of it has taught me many valuable life skills, given me many unique opportunities, and a raft of lifelong memories.”

Today I am proud and honoured to be receiving the Hindmarsh Local Legend Volunteer Award for my tireless advocacy for people living with T1D.

Shanna has been instrumental in helping deliver some of the amazing progress JDRF’s advocacy program has supported. Without her, and advocates like her across the country, what we achieve would not be possible.

Shanna’s passion and dedication to volunteering and to the T1D community are commendable – and we extend a huge congratulations to her for this award!

You can learn more about JDRF’s advocacy program at this link.