THE 2018 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year, Professor Paul Zimmet, has arrived in Canberra ahead of the Australian of the Year Awards to be announced this evening (Thursday).
Zimmet was honoured with the title of Victorian Senior Australian of the Year at a ceremony held at Government House in October last year for his pioneering work as an international leader in the field of diabetes over the past 40 years.
Aside from founding the International Diabetes Institute (IDI) in Melbourne in 1984, Zimmet’s longstanding research predicted the current worldwide epidemic of type 2 diabetes. He has been ranked in the top 10 diabetes researchers for global impact.
“It’s very nice, and I am so happy just to be honoured with the Victorian title,” Zimmet told The AJN. “While I didn’t work for 40 years especially to receive this award, I feel very happy about the recognition of that work, and to be a part of the Australia Day celebrations.”
Zimmet’s fellow nominees for the national title include Dr Dimity Dornan, Dr Graham Farquhar, Kathy Guthadjaka, Dr Catherine Hamlin, Kathleen Mazzella, Tony Scherer and Barbara Spriggs.
Prior to the awards ceremony to be held at Parliament House, the state and territory recipients will participate in a host of events, which include a morning tea with the Prime Minister at the Lodge and a dinner with the Governor-General.
When asked what it would personally mean should he receive the national award, Zimmet shared: “My parents came to Australia fleeing the Nazis. It is just an honour for our family to be recognised on a national level.”
He added that a win would also provide a fantastic opportunity to continue lobbying for the issue closest to him – diabetes advocacy.
The diabetes epidemic bears a national annual cost of $30 billion – and that is in addition to the $30 billion cost of the obesity crisis.
“I want to send a very strong message as to how diabetes can be prevented, and how those Australians who do live with diabetes can best manage the condition,” said Zimmet.
He emphasised the importance of comprehensive maternal and child health care, citing the impacts which can lead to the later development of diseases.
“We can reduce the burden of the disease just by ensuring that every child is born in a healthy environment,” Zimmet implored.
“It would be good if we were not just the lucky country – but also, if we could turn things around to be the healthy country too.”
The Australian of the Year Awards will be broadcast tonight (Thursday) at 7.30pm on ABC.