Sorry Day 2015

What National Sorry Day and the apology means to me.

I was lucky enough not to be part of the Stolen Generation so I can never walk in their shoes. But being an Aboriginal person and also seeing the ramifications of what the Stolen Generation

has done to a lot of my people, friends and relatives, the apology really confirmed that it actually did happen. It showed that it wasn’t a myth and that it was a Government policy that went horribly wrong.

SorryWe know the apology won’t bring back the lost kids or heal the deep wounds a lot of parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents suffered and still carry today. But it was a good start towards reconciliation with the Stolen Generation kids who were taken and also the families who suffered.

With the apology, Kevin Rudd recognised that a policy created by former governments was wrong. Apologising to the victims and families of the Stolen Generation, it meant a lot to them, and continues to mean a lot today.

Colin Mitchell
Aboriginal Liaison Officer
Diabetes Victoria

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Traveling to the Forefront of Diabetes Management

Next month I will be traveling to the US to attend the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. This year is very special as it is the 75th anniversary!

As an original ‘New Yorker’, I am eager to revisit the US. As a child I was astonished by New York’s high-rise architecture and the largest collection of skyscrapers in the world. This time I am visiting a place a little more humble than “The Big Apple”– the City of Boston, Massachusetts. This vibrant city strongly owns its place in America’s historic and cultural landscape and I am excited to see how it harbours the dynamics and thrills of the Scientific Sessions.

The ADA 75th Anniversary of the Scientific Sessions is slated to be the largest conference for diabetes globally, and is anticipated to bring together over 20,000 participants with an international presence from 124 countries. The sheer size and magnitude of this event leaves me in awe. From firsthand experience, my closest comparison to an event of this kind would be the World Diabetes Congress 2013 (an IDF event that Diabetes Victoria helped deliver in Melbourne), which saw just over 10,000 attendees from 140 different countries.

Both fantastic events, however the Sessions focus on the science behind diabetes and bring together scientists, healthcare professionals and diabetes consumer bodies from around the world, who are dedicated to diabetes research and care. Within this buzzing forum, I hope to learn of the most recent and significant advances in diabetes prevention and diagnosis, as well as discover new and emerging technologies that could significantly change the landscape of diabetes management as we know it.

I am also keen to forge new relationships within the diabetes community and be part of what is truly a global diabetes discussion. The event is an important opportunity to discuss all aspects of making diabetes a global priority and provide both learning and networking opportunities to empower attendees to drive this change.

Whilst in the US, I will also take the opportunity to visit the global offices of some of our existing partners, most of which will have a presence at the Sessions; demonstrating new diabetes management treatments and algorithms.

I also plan to meet with Sir Michael Hirst, current President of the IDF and former UK MP, to discuss the recent work we have been doing with the Hon. Judi Moylan regarding the International Diabetes Federation’s Parliamentarians for Diabetes Global Network (IDF-PDGN). The IDF-PDGN has 150 members from 41 countries, who fight for diabetes to be a major global policy priority and work to advocate for people with diabetes within their respective regions.

Individually, for me it’s going to be a fantastic and enriching experience, but most importantly, collectively we are taking a powerful and collaborative step in diabetes management.

Make sure you follow my journey on Twitter where I will be tweeting about the sessions and my learnings.

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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Get your Expo on this Saturday

It’s a busy week here at Diabetes Victoria. This Friday we have our annual Health Professional Symposium which is a collaboration with Baker IDI. And on Saturday, we have our first Diabetes Expo.

Over 1300 Victorians with diabetes will be at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to see and hear the latest in diabetes. There is something for everyone at this day-long event. People with type 1 diabetes may be interested in the diabetes technology session presented by one of my favourite ever diabetes healthcare professionals, Cheryl Steele. Cheryl is, in my mind, Australia’s ‘pump guru’ and has been my go-to person for pump information for most of the fourteen years I’ve been using an insulin pump.

There will be sessions about eating and nutrition, including a cook-off with two of Melbourne’s best chefs; Travis McAuley from Hellenic Republic, Jimmy Grants and Mastic and Adam D’Sylva from CODA and TONKA. This will be hosted by Dr Joanna McMillan, nutritionist for The Today Show.

If you are into exercise (apparently some people are, who knew?!?) there are two sessions – one for people who are just getting started and want to learn how to manage some light exercise alongside their diabetes. For those of you who are a little more experienced, a concurrent session covering medium to high intensity exercise will be run.

Not to be missed is Susanne Baxandall’s session on practical considerations of diabetes where she will cover driving and diabetes (when I say not-to-be-missed, I mean it! This is a must for anyone who needs to complete a VicRoads medical report) as well as travel information.

The very clever and terrific presenter, Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos will be running a session on the latest in diabetes research.

There will be panel discussions throughout the day and if you feel like taking a break from the formal sessions, you can take a tour of the exhibition area where you will get a chance to meet with diabetes device companies, other health organisations and Diabetes Victoria staff.

One of the most valuable things you will get from the Expo is meeting others with diabetes. I know that for me, it is probably the most enjoyable aspect of these sorts of events. Having the opportunity to speak with others who are living with diabetes and hearing their stories is always interesting and exciting. It’s how I’ve met some of my dearest friends! I’ll be emceeing throughout the day, so please make sure you come and find me and say hello.

All the details for the Diabetes Expo can be found here. Bookings are essential and it’s completely free for Diabetes Victoria members. See you on Saturday!

RENZASRenza 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

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Give Happy, Live Happy

Yesterday I was humbled. I attended a morning tea at our Campbellfield offices to celebrate the valuable contribution that our volunteers make to Diabetes Victoria. This week marks National Volunteering Week (11-17 May) and here at Diabetes Victoria we are particularly lucky to have over 15 permanent volunteers who offer their precious time to us on a weekly basis. In addition to this, we have over 600 people who have expressed interest in volunteering for Diabetes Victoria, or have in the past. Wow!

volunteer morning teaCEO Craig Bennett mingling with our volunteers during the celebratory morning tea

These people complete a variety of tasks, in our offices or at our events, with a smile on their face and generosity on their minds – it can’t be denied that they are truly special people! One couple starts their day at 5am to complete a 100km round trip to offer their time.

I wanted to get to know some of our volunteers a little better, so I asked few of them to answer some questions for me. First up is Kerry…

Kerry is a mother of 11 year old twin girls. Since the arrival of her daughters Kerry has focused on being a stay at home mum. Prior to motherhood, Kerry was a Registered Nurse for 16 years and has been volunteering with Diabetes Victoria since November 2014.

Why do you volunteer at Diabetes Victoria?

Kerry: I was looking to get back into the workforce and Diabetes Victoria had recently advertised for volunteer support work in an area I was previously experienced in.

What do you get out of volunteering at Diabetes Victoria?

Kerry: Tons of great experience. I’ve been lucky enough to work within a department with a dynamic team who have helped to train me and broaden my horizons.

What is your favourite healthy dish to cook at home?

Kerry: Sashimi salmon with salad – because there is not much cooking involved!

Most interesting thing you’ve learnt since volunteering at Diabetes Victoria?

Kerry: I couldn’t believe how many people are living with diabetes in Victoria alone – it really is staggering.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

Kerry: As a mum of 2, I naturally spend a lot of time driving my children around – they have busy social lives already. I also have two hobbies; photography & scarf making. I have an agent, Avcangal Images, who market my photography and their clients are mainly book publishers. Many of my images have appeared on book covers worldwide! As for my scarves, I sell them at markets across Victoria, predominantly at the Red Hill Market on the Mornington Peninsula.

Thank you, Kerry, for your time and commitment. Check back tomorrow for our next interview with one of our other volunteers.

The theme for this years National Volunteers Week is Give Happy, Live Happy which celebrates that not only are volunteers helping make the lives of others happier, they too are happier as a result. If you would like to volunteer some of your time to Diabetes Victoria, we would love to hear from you at

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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Feel the fear and do it anyway

BLOG BANNERIt’s Diabetes Blog Week (#DBlogWeek) and I’ve never written a blog before. But I loved yesterday’s blog by Renza at Diabetogenic, “I think I can” … and I thought this was the week to share if ever there was one.

My dad, (and my husband for that matter!), have always delighted in telling me “there’s no such word as ‘can’t’!” As someone who had never learned to swim despite repeated efforts involving at various points being taught by my dad, my teachers, private swimming lessons, school swimming lessons, dad again, husband, etc.  I had really begun to think that I was the only person in the world who was not naturally buoyant! Of course, this could not be true but that didn’t make it feel any less true.

At the age of 29, I’d finally had enough of feeling embarrassed on holiday not being able to swim, hanging insecurely onto the side of the hotel pool while others had a whale of a time dive-bombing around me. So, I enrolled in adult classes at my local pool. After the first lesson, I was in tears and resolute that I was not going back the following week – who needed that kind of stress? who needed to confront those fears? for the sake of an annual holiday? not me! I’d lived for 29 years without being able to swim, blah blah blah!

But as the week wore on, the defeatism of those thoughts really got to me. I didn’t want to be defeated and I didn’t want to be that person. I picked up Susan Jeffer’s book “Feel the fear and do it anyway” and read. It changed my perspective. There is nothing wrong with a bit of fear. Indeed, it is quite healthy, and it keeps us safe. However, sometimes, we need to realise that it is holding us back. I needed to realise that I was not going to die, no one was going to let me drown – not least, I reasoned with myself, because our local pool has liability insurance and letting me drown would not be worth the lawsuit!

So, I went back the following week and the week after that… 12 weeks later I swam my first width, admittedly with my teacher walking backwards in front of me about a foot away (just within grabbing distance). But I had done it. I had survived. What an achievement. I remember phoning my dad that night, with tears of joy and relief running down my face, literally crying down the phone at him, “I swam, I can swim!” “You can swim?” he replied “Of course, you can swim. I always knew that. It was only you that didn’t know!”

We laughed and I remember thinking how typical of my dad to be so seemingly unimpressed by my (un)remarkable achievement – the reason being that he had always had every confidence that I could do anything I put my mind to.

So, yesterday’s blog really resonated with me and I felt compelled to share this story. It’s not about diabetes but, as a health psychologist who gives many talks about behaviour change and motivation, I can tell you that I know it’s not always easy to change. There are many things that I still struggle with – I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I regularly take inspiration from recalling this experience – how limited my life was before I could swim, how my own fears and lack of confidence held me back for so long and that, when it came down to it, I had the power within me to change all of that.

Jane SpeightJane Speight is Foundation Director of The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, a partnership for better health between Diabetes Victoria and Deakin University. She is a chartered psychologist with a PhD in health psychology from Royal Holloway University of London. She leads a large and varied program of research in Australia and the UK, through which she aims to improve the quality of life of people with diabetes and encourage healthcare professionals to better understand the impact of diabetes and its management from the individual’s perspective. You can follow Jane on Twitter here.

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What Diabetes Expo 2015 means to me – a member’s perspective

It isn’t difficult to write about what I hope I may gain from attending the Diabetes Expo 2015 in May.

Being diagnosed at 14 years of age and living on a farm near a small country town, little knowledge of the condition and availability of products to assist me was known. This made it (was) difficult for my Mum and me. However after some time we slowly learnt more about the condition and things began to look a little brighter, after many hypos of course.

These days there is the choice of a large array of products such as BGL meters, syringes, insulin pumps and more. The information that is available is endless i.e. the internet, Diabetes Victoria, and group meetings etc.

I am looking forward to attending Diabetes Expo 2015, and hope many others will as well. It will provide knowledge on the latest research, new products and ideas that may help to control the condition. As well as talking to experts, it will also give attendees the opportunity to converse with others living with diabetes.

Of course, we all hope that there may be a cure just around the corner. I feel confident that this may not be too far away. If not a cure, a much more convenient way of controlling the condition.

I am most grateful that events such as Diabetes Expo 2015 are held where we can listen and learn from the experts in their field, and thus gain information that may be of great value.

This blJohn Perrymanog post was written by Diabetes Victoria member, John Perryman.

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Time to have your say!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the launch of the new consultation paper for the  development of the National Diabetes Strategy. The online feedback for this paper is open until Sunday 17 May.

The reason for the consultation is to collect feedback from the community about the paper – specifically the draft Strategic Framework for Action. If you turn to page 7 of the paper, you will find a table which provides a summary of the strategic framework, (it is also at the end of this post).

It is really important for people with diabetes to provide feedback about what living with diabetes is all about and what does and doesn’t work in our healthcare system. The consultation process is your opportunity to provide information that will further inform the development of the final strategy.

As outlined in my original blog post, there are five goals:

  1. Reduce the prevalence and incidence of people developing type 2 diabetes
  2. Promote earlier diabetes detection
  3. Reduce the occurrence of diabetes-related complications and improve quality of life among people with diabetes
  4. Reduce the impact of diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other high risk groups
  5. Strengthen prevention and care through research, evidence and data

The document explains each goal, then explains the areas for action (that is, what will be addressed) and then some suggested ways to actually achieve each of the goals. The document goes into great lengths about each goal, so you may only be interested in reading the sections that you believe are relevant to you and your diabetes.
The online questionnaire is actually not too difficult to work through. You can remain anonymous if you like and you can also start the survey and come back to finish it at later time. Also, you only need to complete the areas that are of particular interest to you.

Whilst I work at Diabetes Victoria and will be involved in the organisation’s  response, I will also be completing the survey as an individual living with type 1 diabetes. For me personally, the areas of specific relevance to my life with diabetes are goals 2, 3 and 5, so I have already read through the related sections of the paper and made a few notes about what I would like to say.

The same questions are asked for each goal and you can answer in as much detail (up to 500 words per question) as you like. When answering, think about what has been of particular help for you and what you think could be improved. For example, think about your diagnosis story and how that played out. Or, think about any programs or events you have attended that have (or have not) provided you with useful and usable diabetes information and management techniques.

The questions for each section are:

Question 1:
a)    Which of the areas for action described for this goal are most appropriate and why?
b)    Are there any additional actions you would you like to see the governments and/or other stakeholders take and why?

Question 2:
a)    Please describe any existing programmes, initiatives or activities relevant to this goal that you think are working well and why?  (please indicate if you are aware of an evaluation report and how it may be obtained).
b)    Are there any existing activities, services or systems relevant to this goal that you think are not working well? (please explain why, and discuss any barriers to their effectiveness).

Question 3:
The paper outlines some potential ways to measure Australia’s progress towards this goal.  What do you think would be the most appropriate ways to measure this goal and why?

So, why is it important for you to take the time and be part of the consultation process?
Because this is the point where people with diabetes are invited to be involved. This is where you get to speak directly to Government about your experiences and offer your suggestions. Diabetes Victoria will, of course, be considering the consumer perspective in our response, but we need as many of you as possible to provide your own thoughts directly as this strengthens the consumer view. Yes, we can argue until we are blue in the face that there should have been consumer involvement earlier on – believe me, I fight that fight most days! But the way it stands is that THIS is the time where we get to provide our input.

Don’t waste that opportunity.

The Consultation Paper for the Development of the Australian National Diabetes Strategy and the online consultation survey can be accessed from this page.

imageRenza 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

TABLE 1 Summary of the Strategic Framework

Goal Areas for action Potential ways to measure Australia’s progress towards this goal
1. Reduce the prevalence and incidence of people developing type 2 diabetes
  • Reduce the prevalence of modifiable risk factors in the general population
  • Identify and provide prevention programmes to people with prediabetes
  • Ensure pregnant women and children get optimal care
  • The percentage of the population developing or with diabetes
  • The percentage of the population that is overweight or obese
  • Annual number of cases of gestational diabetes diagnosed, and the number of these women who receive follow-up preventative services
2. Promote earlier detection of diabetes
  • Improve detection in primary care for type 2 diabetes
  • Increase awareness of type 1 diabetes among healthcare providers and the community
  • The number of people screened for risk of diabetes annually
  • The percentage of people with type 1 diabetes who present with diabetic ketoacidosis on diagnosis
3. Reduce the occurrence of diabetes-related complications and improve quality of life among people with diabetes
  • Nationally agreed clinical guidelines and local care pathways
  • Consumer engagement and self-management
  • Quality improvement processes
  • Information and communication technology
  • Medicines and devices
  • Workforce capacity
  • Funding reform and incentives
  • Mental health care for people with diabetes
  • Transition from child to adult services
  • High-quality hospital care
  • The number of people having screening for complications
  • The percentage of people with diabetes with high HbA1c, cholesterol or blood pressure
  • The incidence of complications per thousand people with diabetes
  • Quality of life scores for people with diabetes
4. Reduce the impact of diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other high risk groups
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse people
  • Older Australians
  • Australians living in rural and remote areas
  • The number of new cases of diabetes diagnosed each year, per thousand people, in groups at higher risk
  • The number of people from groups at higher risk who receive annual testing for complications
  • The percentage of people with diabetes in groups at higher risk with high HbA1c, cholesterol or blood pressure
  • The incidence of complications per thousand people with diabetes from groups at higher risk
  • Quality of life scores for higher risk people with diabetes
5. Strengthen prevention and care through research, evidence and data
  • National research agenda
  • Data linking
  • Number of diabetes publications
  • Progress against key milestones in developing a national research agenda
  • Progress against key milestones in developing national datasets


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