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.