Earlier this year, Diabetes Australia announced an exciting new initiative for young people with diabetes in Australia. Yesterday, we were pleased to launch the Diabetes Australia Young Leaders in Diabetes Program and kick start a program which will, for the first time, give young people a national platform and voice to advocate for issues that matter to them on a local, national and global stage.
Over 130 young people (aged 15 – 29) with diabetes registered to be part of the program. Participants are from each state and territory in Australia and represent metro, rural, regional and remote Australia. Yesterday, we heard from some of the Young Leaders and what an incredibly bright, intelligent, passionate group they were!
Daniel from WA spoke about the importance of access to health care for all people. He discussed how people in rural and remote areas face limited services which impact on their ability to manage their diabetes in a manner they would like.
Lou from VIC, shared her story of living as a young person with type 2 diabetes. She argued against the media’s stigmatisation of diabetes and said she shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed for having type 2 diabetes. She’s absolutely right and her plea is one that should be taken up by all people living with diabetes.
Alisha from Victoria shared the story of her pregnancy. With her beautiful eight-month-old son in the room, she spoke of the challenges faced by women with pre-existing diabetes as they plan for and then achieve a pregnancy. The myriad health appointments and ongoing checking takes a toll.
Georgina from NSW called for a better understanding of the emotional and wellbeing aspects of living with diabetes.
Kinza from the ACT spoke about the personal financial cost of diabetes. As a healthy young person with type 1 diabetes and without any complications, her diabetes-related expenses amount to $5,000 per year. Kinza says steps must be taken to prevent diabetes and its complications to avoid skyrocketing costs.
This program dispels many myths about diabetes. When focussing on type 1 diabetes, it banishes the notion that it’s all about cute kids and infants. It discusses more than just finding a cure, although research was one issue that was discussed today as an important and relevant topic.
And when talking about type 2 diabetes, it highlights that younger and younger people are being diagnosed with the condition and that it’s not a condition affecting only the elderly. Young people with type 2 diabetes need information, support and services for this time of their lives.
The program is collaborative and inclusive and while the issues discussed are relevant and important to young people living with diabetes, they are relevant and important to the entire diabetes community. Through this program, our Young Leaders will present their stories to politicians, business and community leaders and the media and be a voice of their generation.
For further information about the Diabetes Australia Young Leaders in Diabetes Program, please contact Jane on firstname.lastname@example.org
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.