Gut feel­ing pays off


Stirling Times - - Front Page - Laura Pond

WHEN Kar­rinyup resident Wendy Dowl­ing was di­ag­nosed with coeliac dis­ease 27 years ago, there was no ded­i­cated sec­tion for gluten­free food at su­per­mar­kets or menu items marked at restau­rants.

“No­body was aware of what it was; it was very, very dif­fi­cult to get in­for­ma­tion and very dif­fi­cult to get food,” she said.

Aware­ness of coeliac dis­ease has come a long way since then and for her con­tri­bu­tions Mrs Dowl­ing has been ap­pointed a Mem­ber of the Or­der of Aus­tralia in the Queen’s Birth­day Hon­ours.

She has been in­volved with Coeliac WA for 25 years, serv­ing as pres­i­dent for 10 years, and been vice-pres­i­dent and a board mem­ber of Coeliac Aus­tralia.

“I just learnt a lot and I en­joyed be­ing able to help peo­ple,” Mrs Dowl­ing said.

“It is a se­ri­ous dis­ease but be­cause we look pretty well, a lot of peo­ple don’t take it se­ri­ously enough, es­pe­cially in the food ser­vice area. It’s about ed­u­cat­ing food prepa­ra­tion staff and doc­tors to think about it early and rule it out (of a di­ag­no­sis).”

Coeliac dis­ease is an au­toim­mune disor­der where the lin­ing of the small in­tes­tine is dam­aged due to sen­si­tiv­ity to gluten.

Mrs Dowl­ing said when she was di­ag­nosed it was es­ti­mated about one in 3000 peo­ple had the dis­ease but it was now one in 70, though about 80 per cent of these were un­di­ag­nosed.

She said de­spite the in­creased aware­ness, as­so­ci­a­tions Coeliac WA and Coeliac Aus­tralia were still rel­e­vant to peo­ple with the dis­ease as they pro­vided cur­rent re­search and in­for­ma­tion and of­fered sup­port.

Marine ecol­o­gist Ray­mond Masini, of North Beach, was also hon­oured, re­ceiv­ing a pub­lic ser­vice medal recog­nis­ing his out­stand­ing pub­lic ser­vice to marine ecol­ogy and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in WA.

He started his ca­reer at the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity in 1989, is an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at ECU’s Cen­tre for Ecosys­tem Man­age­ment and has been in­volved in many ex­pert groups and state-based com­mit­tees. Dr Masini’s work was de­scribed as fun­da­men­tally chang­ing how the marine en­vi­ron­ment was man­aged in WA.

An­other re­cip­i­ent was Os­borne Park RSL sub-branch pres­i­dent Nor­man Tat­ter­shall, who was awarded the Medal of the Or­der of Aus­tralia for his ser­vice to vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies and to mili- tary his­tory.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey d483661

Coeliac dis­ease aware­ness ad­vo­cate Wendy Dowl­ing.

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