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 membership@diabetesvic.org.au 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.

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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 (http://www.checkmyrisk.org.au), 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.

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Reflections on Sweet 16 the movie

Eliza Nolan is DA–Vic’s Program Events Officer and also lives with type 1 diabetes. During National Diabetes Week she attended DA–Vic’s screening of Sweet 16: A journey into teen diabetes which made her reflect on her journey with diabetes.

sweet 16 27x40 FINAL print
This is a film worth watching. It’s worth watching if you have type 1 diabetes, it’s worth watching if you’re a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, it’s worth watching if you know a person with type 1 diabetes. It’s no action packed, rom-com, thriller, but an understated and realistic documentary into type 1 diabetes from a range of valuable perspectives.

What hit me most was the strain on the parents. This might seem strange considering how hard it can be to live with diabetes – I am a person with type 1 diabetes and it often batters me around. However, I loved this film and its insight because it showed the strain that this quite invisible condition puts on everyone, not just the person living with type 1.

It was also great to have some of my own feelings about diabetes articulated and mirrored it the film. Katia says two things that struck a chord with me. The first one I want to scream from the rooftop to everyone who has diabetes, of either type – if someone has a problem with you because you have diabetes, or an insulin pump, or do injections – you wouldn’t want them, and don’t need them, as a friend anyway! People who treat you differently because of your diabetes don’t deserve your company, their reaction reflects on them, not you.

The second thing that struck me from the film was the quote: “(diabetes) it’s so big, but you can’t see it.” Until quite recently I hadn‘t seen my diabetes as a big part of me. The older I get, the more I realise how it impacts on my health, mood, sleep, and overall life – it’s huge!  It penetrates every facet of our lives and does not go away. This is where I’ve found support and perspective is so important. In Sweet 16, Katia finds this support, love, personal acceptance and perspective through her admirable work overseas. It allows her to realise she is bigger than her diabetes, and in a number of ways she is, and all of us living in a well-developed country with a decent health system are, ultimately lucky.

This is just part of what the DVD opened up for me. It’s raw, real and at times awkward ‘protagonist’ really does the world a favour by opening up about her private experience. This DVD hits a niche market of people who suffer from a number of associated difficulties thanks to diabetes but also have the ability to live life to the absolute fullest (with a tad more planning).

It was wonderful to see the cinema packed out for DA–Vic’s Screening of Sweet 16. Support groups, diabetes camps and other ‘diabetes’ events are rarely about sitting and talking diabetes with other people with diabetes but this was about being in a space with people who inherently and utterly understand a part of you in a way that no one else can. There is a sense of belonging. This screening provided this space for attendees and their families, and I’m pleased to say that the feedback collected was glowing.

Watch the trailer:

Sweet16 documentary trailer from dan shannon on Vimeo.

Posted in children, Diabetes, Health, National Diabetes Week, stigma, Support, type 1, Young people | Leave a comment

Together we’re united for diabetes

NDW homepage banner sharkyNational Diabetes Week this year focusses on the prevention of type 2 diabetes through an interesting campaign. Diabetes Australia uses images to represent people’s irrational fears such as clowns, spiders and sharks and compared it to the real and hidden threat of diabetes. So it absolutely made sense that the launch of this campaign was done at the Melbourne Aquarium! Therefore, it’s only fitting that this post will feature happy shots from the aquarium!

Professor Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia launching the new campaign.

Professor Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia launching the new campaign.

Did you know that more than 2 million Aussies are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Some people may scoff at this. But when one in three people don’t even know they are already living with diabetes, it’s pretty scary.


Is the prevalence of diabetes as scary as a huntsmen though? (no…um…yes…um…maybe?)

You can check your risk for type 2 diabetes at checkmyrisk.org.au. It’s important to note that this is not a direct predictor for developing (not contracting) type 2 diabetes. Even if you are at low or no risk, it definitely doesn’t mean you’re immune from it. Trust me, I know from experience!

Are lizards immune from diabetes too, I wonder?

Are lizards immune from diabetes too, I wonder?

Not being aware or looking after your diabetes can have serious implications. All the negative things associated with diabetes such as amputations and loss of sight becomes much more of a reality.

According to some, caring for your diabetes can be compared to looking after a child!

According to some, caring for your diabetes can be compared to looking after a child!

Diabetes isn’t all doom and gloom. The sooner you put things in place to manage your diabetes, the risk of complications generally reduces too. There are also increasingly more support networks for people living with diabetes. You are never alone.

No matter what your connection to diabetes is, you are not alone.

No matter what your connection to diabetes is, you are not alone.

This campaign is targeting those at risk of type 2 diabetes. But healthy eating and exercise doesn’t just benefit people with pre-diabetes. It benefits EVERYONE.

Don't ignore your weight!

Don’t ignore your weight!

National Diabetes Week, to me, means that we put side our differences to work together. We are here to help each other out. Together we are one voice to fight against the discrimination and the stigma that has been fanned by misinformation and through the media. Together, we are united for diabetes.

Together, we can make a difference!

Together, we can make a difference!

Ashley Ng, of Caufield, is 24 years young. Ashley was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009, and blogs more regularly at Bittersweet Diagnosis. This post was re-blogged from Bittersweet Diagnosis after consent from the author.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Ashley’s occasional blogs are her own.

Posted in Diabetes, National Diabetes Week, nutrition, obesity, physical activity, prevention, stigma, type 1, type 2, Young people | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping it nice

NDW homepage banner sharkyIt’s the Friday before National Diabetes Week here in Australia. Over the next 10 days, diabetes will be in the press. A lot. And that means a lot of misreporting and a lot of people saying the wrong things about diabetes.

So, here are some of my thoughts about how to address this:

  1.     Stay calm. If you hear or see or read something about diabetes that is incorrect, don’t get angry. Send a balanced, calm response to the journalist, radio/TV station/person talking with CORRECT information. Be brief, use facts – dot points are good.
  2.     Know your facts! And that means no perpetuating other myths to bust the one that’s pissed you off.
  3.     Get over the type 1 versus type 2 thing. Seriously. Don’t bash the ‘other’ diabetes.
  4.     I send the Diabetes Australia Language Position Statement out to any journalist who uses damaging language when writing about diabetes. I tweet the link directly to journos all the time!
  5.     Naming and shaming is okay if you’re nice and polite about it.
  6.     Don’t engage. Make your point and walk away. There is no need to enter into an argument that will most likely get heated and result in abuse. Grace and dignity are amazing qualities; demonstrate them in spades!
  7.     Action! If you’re going to complain, make sure you actually do something meaningful with it. It’s all very well to bitch and moan amongst your peers, but find the source of whatever has upset you and write to them directly. (See point 1 for the tone to use.)
  8.     Follow up. And if you do take the time to write, you should expect a response. If you don’t get one within a reasonable time, re-send your correspondence.
  9.     Pick your battles. I can tell you now that no one has bucket loads of money to spend on diabetes campaigns, so no matter how much you want the government or diabetes organisation in your state to run a full-blown campaign explaining the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it’s not gonna happen. Accept it!
  10.     Remember that you know a lot about diabetes out of pure necessity. Don’t expect that same level of knowledge from everyone. Most of the stupid things people say are out of sheer ignorance or bad manners. Politely correct and move on.
  11.     There are some great resources out there that can help. Check out this and this.

The primary aim of National Diabetes Week is to raise awareness of the condition – specifically awareness about prevention of type 2 diabetes. Consider any misreporting or silly comments an opportunity to provide information and education in the hope that the people perpetuating the myths won’t do it again. And as your (and everyone’s) grandmother would say: Keep yourself nice.

It’s Friday! And it’s freezing here in Melbourne. I’m trying to imagine warm sun on bare skin, so here are The Beatles with ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’.

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.

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Pumping on Diabetes Camp

A few weekends ago marked a milestone for pumpagotchi and I. We went on a trip that was longer than an overnight stay. We went on a diabetes camp together. That’s four days and three nights away from home.

Being the coordinator of this camp, I was counting on my diabetes to behave nicely while I made sure everything ran smoothly. I needed to do a site change on the second day of camp. So I packed an infusion set. I always carry my insulin pen and a needle around as a back up. However, I had forgotten to check if I had enough insulin in my pen! It was only by a slim stroke of luck that I decided and remembered to throw in a spare vial of insulin. I also had not even considered the possibility of doing a dud line change. In hindsight, I should’ve packed an extra infusion set just in case!

Luckily everything did run well. My sugars were running a little higher than normal probably due to the stress and excitement and the constant eating that is diabetes camp. The only issue I ran into was my pump falling out from my pocket while I was running around doing a parachuting activity with the kids. Running around with a dangling a pump isn’t very fun. Next time, I’ll have to find a more secure place to put it if I decide to get involved. But I wasn’t too nervous about any diabetes emergency I may come across as I WAS at a diabetes camp. Having several well experienced diabetes nurse educators, people with diabetes and an abundance of spare diabetes supplies such as meters, test strips and needles definitely gave me a peace of mind.

Despite the terrible weather, the camp ran really well. We had children from 4-8 years old with one parent and ran activities with the kids while parents attended informational sessions with health professionals. I learned about this whole loom band craze the kids are into and also mused over toilet tiggy (where did this even come from and how did it get so big?). After hearing one of the kids repeatedly saying that ‘this is the place where fun never ends’, I think it’s safe to say that everyone got something positive out if it. Here’s to another smooth sailing camp this weekend with nicer weather.

Sunset view over our campsite

Sunset view over our campsite

Loom band madness!

Loom band madness!

For more information about Diabetes Camps Victoria, please visit their website here.

Ashley Ng, of Caufield, is 24 years young. Ashley was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009, and blogs more regularly at Bittersweet Diagnosis. This post was re-blogged from Bittersweet Diagnosis after consent from the author.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Ashley’s occasional blogs are her own.

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Aboriginal health is very important to us

This week is NAIDOC week. NAIDOC week is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and is a great opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our society. Thanks to the hard work of our Aboriginal and Cultural Diversity team, staff at DA–Vic will be able to get involved this week in some special activities, including a visit to Federation Square for the flag raising ceremony, a NAIDOC Week quiz (with a great prize of movie tickets for the winner!) and a morning tea at each DA–Vic office where Colin Mitchell, our Aboriginal Liaison Officer will talk about the importance of NAIDOC week, and the winner of the quiz will be announced.

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Aboriginal health is very important to us at DA–Vic, because we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are 3–4 times more likely to develop diabetes than the national average. Colin does a great job raising awareness of diabetes to Aboriginal communities across Victoria. But it can’t just be Colin’s responsibility. Aboriginal health is everybody’s business, and at DA–Vic, we are trying to increase our cultural awareness and activities across all areas of the organisation.

We recently completed an Aboriginal Cultural Audit where we rated our performance across areas such as planning, people and partnerships. I know this process well and feel that it is a great way to reflect on what we do and what we can do better.

For me, the audit was also a time for personal reflection. We were shown a video clip of an Aboriginal man speaking about his life, and the impact that the Stolen Generations and colonisation have had on him. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of family and Country to Aboriginal communities, and the effect that dispossession has had on their health and wellbeing. Diabetes is one consequence of this, and it’s our job to try and bridge the gap in diabetes health inequality. I was delighted that DA–Vic rated well in many areas of the audit, but there is still much work to do. We have drafted an action plan of things we need to do to improve our work in Aboriginal health, and I’m really looking forward to working on this with the group of committed staff from all areas of the organisation who sit on our Diversity Working Group.

Read more about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program

Carolyn HinesCarolyn Hines is the Diabetes Education Manager at DA–Vic. The opinions and thoughts expressed in her occasional blogs are her own.

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