MP Profile: A JDRF exclusive with David Smith MP

November 23, 2021

Meeting with Federal MPs is a core part of JDRF advocacy to ensure we can achieve better outcomes for Australians living with T1D. It’s also important to share with out community key insights from these meetings and what impact they can have. This month we spoke to David Smith MP, Federal Member for Bean, ACT about why he values meeting with JDRF advocates and what he’s learned from them. Read the full Q&A below.

1. Tell us about your first meeting with JDRF or advocate and what did you learn?

I’ve actually been lucky enough to meet with JDRF and their advocates on multiple occasions over the years both at parliament but also out in the community including at the JDRF One Walk. I’ve literally seen the advocates grow!

At Parliament House back in 2018 when I was in the Senate, I met with Grace, Oliver, Lawrence and Sophie and their parents to chat about type 1 diabetes as part of the “Kids In The House” JDRF initiative.  It not only made clear to me that while funding for research is the key to a cure, equitable access to technology is of equal importance that allows these amazing kids and their peers the capacity to fully and safely engage in society. I’ve been fortunate to continue the connection with JDRF families in moving from the Senate to the House of Representatives in 2019.

More than 2000 people live with type 1 diabetes here in Canberra and more than 125,000 Australia wide. This number keeps growing, and that’s why it’s vital to find a cure for this insidious autoimmune disease. This is a cause worth fighting for!

2. Why are these constituent meetings valuable to you?

There is nothing more compelling than hearing from constituents face to face, even if meeting with a Member of Parliament can feel a little like an overwhelming experience (I don’t think I’m particularly scary though!).  It helps provide an understanding of the day to day challenges of living with type 1 diabetes and why a future without it is worth striving for!

The JDRF advocates and their families have impressed me as being both eloquent and inspirational and meeting with them has made it clear why this is an issue for every MP across the country and the communities we represent.

3. What advice do you have for JDRF advocates?

Be aware that you are making a difference, providing both a face and voice to the thousands of young Australians living with type 1 diabetes! It takes courage to talk about the challenges of current medication and technology and what the pathway forward looks like but by doing so you are already effecting change. My doors in Tuggeranong and at Parliament House will always be open to you. I’m interested in what you do next!

4. What do you think makes JDRF unique?

JDRF are close to being unique in empowering their youth advocates to be the voice for change alongside their families while ensuring that MPs have access to the latest developments and opportunities in research and technology. They are able to demonstrate the difference equitable access to medical technology makes to those living with type 1 diabetes through childhood and into adulthood.  I’d find it difficult to think of an advocacy network with more energy than JDRF!

5. Tell us one thing people might not know about you?

I love walking in our nature reserves and national parks, particularly if it’s slightly off the beaten trail. A common start to a conversation with my children is “I think that’s a path…” before we veer off the main trail. I think I’m getting a compass for Christmas.

6. If I wasn’t an MP I would be…

A music journalist. While I’ve slowed down a little…I love live music and miss going to gigs both big and small. A while before I became an MP I managed to interview one of my favourite Australian artists for The Canberra Times.  If my children are reading this they are cringing!