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James Muecke

Australian of the Year 2020
Silent No More

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

National Press Club of Australia

If you had a life-threatening cancer, you’d want to know if it could be put into remission. Research now suggests that type 2 diabetes, affecting over 1.7 million Aussies and arguably our biggest killer, can be put into remission in as little as six weeks. And yet, the majority of patients with this disease are not aware of such a life-changing opportunity. And why are patients with diabetes still being told to eat a diet high in carbohydrates, the very diet they should be avoiding?

Eye surgeon and Australian of the Year for 2020 Dr James Muecke AM, takes us on his journey from treating the blinding complications of diabetes to his fight to build greater awareness around the causes and complications of type 2 diabetes, and opportunities to combat this blinding, maiming and deadly disease that’s the greatest threat to our health system. In this journey, he sheds lights on the responses from industry, businesses and government, and the vested interests that have shaped the dietary disaster that’s consuming our country.


Dr James Muecke AM is an Adelaide-based ophthalmologist. He graduated with Honors from Adelaide University Medical School in 1988. Following his internship, James lived and worked as a volunteer doctor in Kenya in 1989. After completing ophthalmology training in Adelaide in 1995, James worked as an eye surgeon in Jerusalem for 12 months. He undertook subspecialty training in eye cancer in London and then returned to Adelaide in 1998, where he has been a Visiting Consultant and Senior Lecturer at Royal Adelaide and Women’s & Children’s Hospitals.

James has taught the diagnosis and management of eye cancer in ten countries in Asia. He founded not-for-profit organization Sight For All in 2008, turning his boundless energy into a fight against blindness in the Aboriginal and mainstream communities of Australia and some of the poorest countries of the world. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable projects are now impacting on the lives of over one million people each year.

His commitment to social impact and humanitarian endeavors has earnt him a number of awards including an Order of Australia in 2012, the Australian Medical Association’s President’s Leadership Award in 2013, and Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur for Australia in 2015. James is Australian of the Year for 2020 for his 30 years of humanitarian work.

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