Australia’s first Aboriginal Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Credentialled Diabetes Educator 28 March 2023 “Jingeri, Jimbelung.” Australia’s first Aboriginal Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Credentialled Diabetes Educator opens his emails with ancient language and a warm greeting that makes the receiver feel good about themselves, and about being Australian. “Hello and welcome, friend” right back at you, Trent Lyon. Trent, 33, is from the Yugambeh (pronounced You-GAM-Bear) nation, and was born to the Wanggeriburra (pronounced Wang-Gerry-Burra) clan from around Tambourine in Southern Queensland. It’s important to Trent, who works full-time with Diabetes Australia, that he tells his story with all the colours of a portrait, and not just the pretty ones. “I was a very ordinary student at high school,” Trent tells with an easy smile. “My OP was below the entry requirements for university. I wanted to study Exercise Physiology but I just didn’t get the marks.” He went to TAFE instead, and did a bridging Diploma of Fitness (personal training), which gave him entry to the degree he wanted to do: a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology at QUT. To Trent’s great relief, he found uni suited his learning style more than high school. “Learning online really works for me. I like to take my time to listen, replay, pause, and take notes. I think the biggest thing is that I can listen to a lecture when I’m ready to do it. That’s made a big difference.” Trent was inspired to find a way to study exercise because although he wasn’t academic at school, he loved sport. And he was good at it. Diabetes Yarning & Physical Activity at Clontarf Boys Academy Trinity Bay High School “I played grass hockey when I was young, then started competing in triathlons.” He gave permission to be described as an “above-average” triathlete. “When I was at TAFE, I checked into Procrastination Central. But working a full-time job, being in a committed relationship, and studying part-time, I told myself I have two choices: I either do the assignment or fail. “I stay disciplined with study so I can enjoy all the adventures and holidays with my partner Jacinta that’s possible now.” Trent, who is recovering from anxiety and PTSD, credits his Mum for helping him believe he could achieve even after he didn’t succeed in high school. “Mum was always very accepting about who I was and what I did. Her advice was to give it your best shot, and if you did that, that was all that mattered. She’s extremely proud of what I’ve achieved.” Trent is now studying for his Diploma in Psychological Science and wants to use his learning and life skills to give back to his people. One of the areas of greatest need for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is diabetes management. “I didn’t study three degrees for fun. I want to give back: understand, accept and be proud of who we are as individuals.” Trent says his Grandma lived with type 2 diabetes but had a lot of shame about her condition. She hid her condition from her family and didn’t take medication for years. She eventually passed from stroke and kidney disease, known complications of diabetes. “Now my Dad and all that side of the family have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I thought that was my future, but I know now I can change things. I want other people to know that too.” Trent, who started with Diabetes Australia (then Queensland) in 2021, has now joined the Western Queensland Travelling CDE program and travels to Charleville for one week a month to provide a diabetes clinic. “I went to Close the Gap Day in Charleville recently and met a lot of people, including the Elders. It was really great. I loved to meet the community like that.” Diabetes Update for outer island health workers at TSIRC Horn Island For fitness, Trent walks with Jacinta and rides his bike 14km to and from work. For inspiration, he thinks of the people he has met on his journey. “I worked with a young Torres Strait Islander kid who had a hard time growing up. He thought his life would be drugs and alcohol, but we worked together at an Aboriginal Health Service and he started to think things could be different for him. “He went on to finish Year 12 and is now studying Exercise Phys at QUT. He just needed a bit of help, some mentoring, and he’s on a different journey.” Trent’s mission is to make sure that’s not the only person’s journey that will change.