Jason Bartlett made a dying wish to all Australians to look out for the dangers of diabetes. Now, his cousin Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt has spread the message further through Parliament, launching a new framework to tackle the scourge within Indigenous communities.
26 Mar 2018 - 2:32 PM  UPDATED 26 Mar 2018 - 5:22 PM

Jason Bartlett was a singer, songwriter and former television music show star when in 2009 the then-28-year-old made it through the Top 24 on Australian Idol. He continued his career after the show writing, recording and performing with the popular Bartlett Brothers band. 

But at just nineteen years of age, Jason was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. 

A combination of a lack of health education and ignoring the danger signs gradually led to a tragic sequence of chronic health conditions that eventually took his sight and his mobility. 

Sadly, Jason passed away from a range of diabetes-related illnesses in June last year. He was just 36. 

Nine days before his passing, Jason made a heartbreaking video to raise awareness of the disease. 

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"What it’s done to my body and my whole health, it just deteriorated it. Basically, grabbed it and squashed it like a can," he said in the haunting video. 

His final words are haunting and hard-hitting and ones he wanted every Australian to hear. His vision was always to change the world for the better through his music but his dream became to get the health message out.

"I didn’t listen to, and there wasn’t much education about what was going on back then, it just made my kidneys fail. When the kidneys failed, that’s when my eyes started failing through glaucoma. And when that happened I had to make sure that I started doing things right because, basically, it took my vision," he said. 

The father-of-two goes on to tell his story of battling the disease and the stress put on his young family. 

"It was hard it meant that because Jamiee, my wife, had to help out a lot more than what she did," he said. 

He said if he could change his lifestyle and take the signs seriously, he would, particularly drinking alcohol. 

"I would never ever have touched the bottle; never, ever would have drank alcohol. Alcohol’s just … You know, our mob has got to stop thinking that we can get together and have a party. 

We need to look at life without alcohol, without drugs, because if we don’t start doing it now, the next generations to come, they might as well be dead. They might as well be dead." 

He's key message is for everyone to look after themselves. 

"No one wants to be here in this bed, on this machine. It’s not a life that I recommend for anybody. So I say to everybody to look after themselves, re-think alcohol, re-think drug use and taking those kinds of things." 

"I hope I’ve left a sense of love." 

Jason Bartlett was the cousin of Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt hopes the video recorded by Jason will have a positive impact on people at risk. 

"Jason was my cousin, a successful musician and a much-loved father of two,” he said. "It was his dying wish that his message be seen by as many people as possible, especially young Indigenous people, to warn them to look after themselves and to heed the advice of health professionals.”

On Monday, Mr Wyatt launched a new online tool and core competency framework to help diabetics better manage their illness. 

"These have the potential to benefit a wide range of people across the nation, by helping keep them healthy and out of hospital,” he said. 

"These two projects align closely with Australia’s National Diabetes Strategy and the Turnbull Government’s focus on growing the skills, capacity and capability of health professionals providing diabetes support." 

Approximately 1.2 million Australians have been diagnosed with diabetes. In particular, it is a challenge for Indigenous Australians who are four times more likely to die from the condition that other Australians. 

The self directed aged care e-learning modules have been developed for educators, nurses and aged care workers who teach self-management skills to people with diabetes, their families and carers, healthcare teams and community members.

Minister Wyatt commended the organisations involved in the development of the education programs – the ADEA, Indigenous Allied Health Australia and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association.

“It is through such collaboration – between governments, health organisations, professionals and patients – that people suffering from diseases and disorders are better diagnosed and supported to maintain the highest quality of life possible.” 

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the Turnbull government will reduce the cost of medicines to treat diabetes, cancer and arthiritis adding eleven new additions to the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS) on April 1. 

Up to 55,000 type-2 diabetes patients with poor blood sugar control will be eligible for a new combination medicine called Glyxambi. 

Mr Hunt says the additions will save Australian patients thousands of dollars. 

"Since coming into government, the Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by subsidising more than $8.2 billion worth of new medicines," Mr Hunt said.

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