Kicking the health ‘kick’

It’s almost November and I am in the midst of the Diabetes Australia Walk to Work campaign (a national initiative to encourage all Australians to introduce walking into their day). It’s a simple concept to introduce more physical activity into your day – you can park your car a little further away from the station, or get off the tram one step early.

Research of up to 400,000 people has found that walking an extra 15 minutes each day can help extend life expectancy by up to three years, while reducing the risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as increase mental wellbeing.

While walking is an easy way to make life more active, with the fast-pace of today’s world, it can be a less favourable option than the quick and comfortable car or public transport ride.

These days with a 24 hour news cycle we see and hear of more health, nutrition, exercise and fitness stories than ever. With so many conflicting theories of how to get healthier, and not knowing what news you hear is credible, it can be confusing and sometimes it feels easier to ignore it all.

Or, sometimes the sensationalist messages you hear sink in and all of the sudden you’re on a health ‘kick’. We’ve all been on them, but how long do they really last for? Even the use of the word ‘kick’ implies a short and quick action, rather than a longer-term change in habit that has longevity.

Walking is simple, it’s easy, it is part of your everyday life and can be an effective form of exercise if you make it worthwhile. I was particularly reminded of this on Monday, as I trudged to work through some of the worst rainfall I’ve seen in a long time. I arrived at work – yes, a little wet – but I still did it! It wasn’t hard or tedious, it was just part of my day. That’s why walking is part of my daily routine and will continue to be, not just for now, but for as long as I can.

You too, can sign up for Diabetes Australia Walk to Work and encourage those around you to get up and get moving!

Michael Goldman is Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Diabetes Australia – Vic. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldman_ the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.

Posted in Diabetes | Leave a comment

Diabetes research funding – simply not enough

Last Friday, the successful National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant recipients were announced.

Let’s start with the good news.

Funding for 848 grants was announced, totalling over $580 million across a wide range of health conditions. This includes project grants, partnership projects, Centres of Research Excellence and other Fellowships and grants.

This is great stuff. Medical research is essential and we should be encouraging more dollars being delivered to the very clever clinicians, researchers and scientists carrying out this important work. ‘Cures not Cuts’ is a motto we should be thinking about all the time – not only when there is a real or perceived threat to funding dollars.

Diabetes received $54 million in grants for 60 research projects.

Here is the not so good news.

Diabetes received $54 million in grants for 60 research projects.

That’s right. The good news is also the bad news. Whilst it is terrific that 60 research projects received funding and $54 million is not to be sneezed at, I do not believe that it is enough.

Cancer received funding of $89.9 million for 156 projects, and cardiovascular disease $82.4 million across 106 grants. All of these are worthy and should be funded. Make no mistake – I am not saying that money should not be given to cancer or CVD research. Of course I am not.

I am told that when funding announcements are made, there is also dissatisfaction amongst the cancer community, with many ‘lower profile’ cancers often being overlooked. Ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancer are frequently considered the poor cousins of the cancer world, despite significant numbers of people being affected by – and dying from – these cancers.

Of course, we can argue that the money is never enough. We can argue that we are all self-interested and only care about our own condition or the condition affecting our family and friends and to a degree, that is absolutely true.

Please understand, I am not saying that diabetes is worse than any other disease or health condition. Any regular readers of this blog will know that I absolutely do not subscribe to the ‘my condition is worse than yours’ arguments.

But if we are to believe that the magnitude of the ‘diabetes problem’ – and there is some pretty compelling evidence to support that it will indeed be the largest health burden in Australia by 2017 – then surely we need to see a bigger investment into diabetes research. We need diabetes to be’ top of mind’ as the number one health concern.

The results of last Friday’s funding announcements reinforce what I wrote here about diabetes having an image problem when it comes to funding – and fundraising. With more and more people affected, surely this should be reflected in increased funding for research, programs and services.

We’re not seeing that.


At the risk of this outing me as someone with a case of sour grapes, I should acknowledge that I am listed as an Associate Investigator on a grant application that was not successful. Yes, I am disappointed. But this certainly was not the only diabetes grant that was unsuccessful. Many other very worthwhile applications faced a similar fate.

Congratulations to all the successful applicants.

Renza Scibilia is the Manager of Type 1 Diabetes and Community Programs at DA–Vic. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1998. The opinions and thoughts expressed in her occasional blogs are her own.

Renza blogs regularly at Diabetogenic about real life with type 1 diabetes and you can also follow her on Twitter @RenzaS This post was re-blogged from Diabetogenic after consent from the author.

Posted in Diabetes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A milestone partnership

Yesterday I was in Sydney for the launch of the Diabetes Australia and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) Partnership. It was big.  Over eighty people gathered to hear about the details of this milestone partnership, including CBA’s very own CEO, Ian Narev.

It’s big because not only is this the largest partnership that Diabetes Australia has secured on a national scale, but because we have been working for a number of months to make this a reality. This partnership will bring opportunities for Diabetes Australia; from connecting with Commonwealth Bank of Australia customers; to potentially incorporating a health and wellbeing program into their employee benefit scheme; and building our brand recognition to strengthen our messages.

A particularly exciting element of the partnership is our involvement in the Executive Manager Talent Program (EMTP). The program involves 36 key Executive Managers from multiple Commonwealth Bank divisions, who will apply their diverse skills and expertise to develop strategies for a selected community focused organisation – this year, it’s us!

The diabetes epidemic is one of global proportions and, as an organisation, we must continue to lead the efforts to tackle the burden of diabetes in new and developing ways. The reality is that we cannot do this alone. The EMTP launch was yesterday and I am extremely excited by the talent that will be working for our cause and the possibilities they will present to us next year. Having such a diverse team of experts thinking about new opportunities and developing a strategy will strengthen the foundations of Diabetes Australia and help to secure a brighter future for diabetes.

A highlight of the day was listening to Ian Narev speak about the values of leadership and integrity. He shared personal stories of his own leadership journey which took a dramatic change in direction when simply asked ‘Do you love your job?’ His story stressed the fundamental principles of passion, continuous professional growth, being true to your instincts, and the importance of having fun throughout your career.

A particularly interesting point was made around the concept of “followership” – people are not led, they follow. Understanding the different strengths and styles within your team to inspire following, rather than leading without reflection, is something I will endeavour to replicate in my own leadership style.

The partnership is also significant for DA–Vic in many ways too. DA–Vic will benefit from state-based activities and heightened recognition for the brand and cause. To top it off, we have received a significant donation to support diabetes and enable the delivery of more diabetes education and awareness programs.

Overall, this is an exhilarating time for diabetes at a national and state level and I am proud to be part of it.

If you have any questions or feedback about the partnership please leave your comments below.

Michael Goldman is Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Diabetes Australia – Vic. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldman_ the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.

Posted in Diabetes, fundraising | Leave a comment

$100m in 30 days – a fundraising dream comes to reality

So after a couple of weeks of waking up to celebrities, friends and colleagues pouring ice cold buckets of water over their heads, it would appear that the #ALSIcebucketchallenge is slowly drawing to an end.

But this is only after raising over US $100m in donations in a single month – a truly magnificent success! The fundraising and marketing industries will be examining this case study for months to try and pinpoint how to replicate this accomplishment, if possible?

But what I find most interesting is how much do those who participated and donated really know about the condition? Firstly, in Australia we know Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) as Motor neurone disease (MND). There is no difference; they are simply different terms to describe the same disease. Informing the Australian public by connecting the dots allowed MND Australia to overcome their first hurdle.

At DA–Vic we’ve had numerous conversations about how effective the challenge has been in terms of raising awareness and money, but has this planted a long term seed of knowledge around ALS?

Statistics released on Monday 8 Sept suggest yes. Visits to the ALS Wikipedia article increased almost 18 times in the UK and similar statistics across Europe and China. (Source: Forbes)

But that is merely visits to the page. Was the information digested? Do we understand what the disease is and its impact on those living with it? Working in diabetes, we all know how common it is for people to get confused about types of diabetes, attach stigmas and use the incorrect terminology. So let’s make a concerted effort to learn about ALS as we would want people to learn about diabetes.

In 12 months time, will this challenge be remembered for ‘when everyone threw a bucket of water over their head’ or ‘when $100m was raised for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis’?

A number of criticisms have arisen relating to the Ice Bucket campaign, but I would like to congratulate all involved – it is an achievement that I could only wish to touch in my career of fundraising for diabetes! It can’t go without acknowledging Peter Frates and his family and friends who started the challenge – his impact on ALS will remain a part of history and I wish him all the best for the future.

For those who don’t know:

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease for the famous baseball player who died from it, is a condition that causes loss of voluntary muscle strength, causing weakness in the arms and legs, and creating difficulty with speech and swallowing. The average life span for someone with ALS is two or three years after the first onset of symptoms. After five years, the survival rate is 20 percent. Learn more:

What are your thoughts on the ALS Ice bucket Challenge? Did you take part? I’d love to know what you think and if we could replicate a similar challenge for diabetes. Write your comments below.

To share your feedback and insights email or join as a member of Diabetes Australia – Vic via our website.

Michael Goldman is Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Diabetes Australia – Vic. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldman_ the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.


Posted in chronic disease, Diabetes, facts, fundraising | 1 Comment

Diabetes MILES Youth

Are you the parent of a child (aged 10 – 19 years) with diabetes? Then we need YOU! And your child with diabetes too.

You may remember that a few years ago now, the Diabetes MILES survey was conducted. Diabetes MILES looked at the psychological health of people living with diabetes, and the survey results continue to be collated and presented.

Now, a new study – Diabetes MILES Youth – is being conducted asking young people about what it’s like to live with diabetes, and how diabetes affects their wellbeing.

And because we all know that diabetes is a ‘family sport’, parents of kids with diabetes are also being asked to complete the survey.

The survey is only open until the end of September, so please take the time (about thirty minutes) to respond. (I know that you would get involved anyway, but as an added incentive, there’s an iPad to be won!)

Diabetes MILES and now Diabetes MILES Youth will actually show just how diabetes affects our lives on a day-to-day basis. The more we can talk about the psychosocial side of diabetes – the more evidence there is to show that diabetes affects our wellbeing – the more that diabetes stops being just a numbers game. (Although, in this case the number of people completing the survey is important, so get clicking!)


Diabetes MILES Youth is part of the NDSS-funded Young People with Diabetes National Development Project of which I am the Project Manager. I’m writing about it here because I think it’s really important for as many people as possible to take part in this survey and have their voice heard.

The survey is being conducted by the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes.

Renza Scibilia is the Manager of Type 1 Diabetes and Community Programs at DA–Vic. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1998. The opinions and thoughts expressed in her occasional blogs are her own.

Renza blogs regularly at Diabetogenic about real life with type 1 diabetes and you can also follow her on Twitter @RenzaS

This post first appeared at Diabetogenic and has been published here with the writer’s consent.

Posted in children, chronic disease, Diabetes, Young people | Leave a comment

Diabetes is increasing, yet membership is on the decline – where are people accessing information?

Next month marks my four year anniversary at Diabetes Australia – Vic (Happy Work-iversary to me!) and in my time here I have seen some major changes, not only in the organisation but also in the diabetes landscape. Technology is rapidly developing and the industry is working to integrate these developments in their diabetes portfolios. Our organisation has also grown and changed, particularly as we look to present a united front for diabetes, but the biggest change is the number of people living with diabetes. Since I started, 400,000 Australians have been NEWLY diagnosed with diabetes and this upward trend is set to continue.

The latest statistics released from the NDSS show that the total number of Victorians living with diabetes as of 30 June 2014 is 282,214. That’s approximately 4.8% of the state population and means that 1 in 20 Victorians are now living with diabetes(!) It also means that our role at Diabetes Australia – Vic is increasingly important as we strive to connect, represent and inform the growing number of Victorians directly affected (not to mention their families and carers and health professionals).

Alarmingly, despite an increase in diagnosis, we are seeing a gradual decrease in membership – not only in Victoria but across the country. It begs the question, where and how are people accessing support and information?

Over the coming weeks and months I will be watching these figures closely. Although we have recently increased the benefits, discounts, events and services available to members, something more is clearly required. It’s my job to find out what this is and ensure that Victorians living with diabetes have access to the support that they want and need. It may be as simple as increasing awareness of diabetes or it may be as complex as changing the way in which we deliver support.

I encourage you, whether you are living with diabetes or indirectly affected to talk to your friends, family and colleagues about this. Help us to identify the change that is required and together we can shape the future of diabetes support in Australia.

To share your feedback and insights email or join as a member of Diabetes Australia – Vic via our website.

Michael GoldmanMichael Goldman is Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Diabetes Australia – Vic. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldman_ the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.

Posted in Diabetes | 2 Comments

The challenges of diabetes support around Australia

I spent the end of last week in Perth, WA and it was a particularly memorable trip for me. Firstly, after almost 4 years  I can say that I have visited each of the state institutions of Diabetes Australia. But secondly, I now fully understand the challenges that those living in rural and outback locations face, primarily due to limited access and support.

Western Australia occupies 2.5million square kilometres with a density of 0.95 people/km² – that’s less than one person per square kilometre! The sparse density of the state makes challenging work for Diabetes WA to ensure that everyone affected by diabetes has the access to the support they need. I admire the work that they do to make sure that they can help as many people as possible through communications and supply.

The reason for my business trip was to attend the FYI Series 2014 Corporate Lunch, held at a Kings Park in Perth. It was a gathering of over 250 individuals, from commercial relationships to support group leaders – it was a real diabetes community!

I was there to represent the Victorian arm of Diabetes Australia and was joined by other key leaders in the Australian diabetes community – National CEO Greg Johnson, DA-NSW CEO Sturt Eastwood and Diabetes Australia’s President, The Hon Judi Moylan. It was an excellent opportunity to listen to the key note speakers and to help raise awareness of diabetes amongst these groups. I left, as I often do on work trips, feeling empowered to make a change. The gathering of these people in one room demonstrated the interest and determination to raise awareness of diabetes across Australia. Diabetes is a huge health burden that I (and all of you reading this blog) are at the centre of vehicle to drive change because we know the facts. We care. We want to shape the future.

I hope that all those who attended the lunch also left feeling passionate and determined to make a difference. They can start in many ways, whether it is checking their risk of type 2 diabetes (, encouraging friends and family to do so, or making a donation to Diabetes Australia. Together, we can reduce the impact of diabetes.

Michael Goldman

Michael Goldman is Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Diabetes Australia – Vic. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldman_ the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.

Posted in Diabetes | Leave a comment