[In last week’s issue of the limbic we published a news article on the announcement by the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt of a Type 1 Diabetes Management in Schools program that will commence in early 2020. This is a letter we received in response to the article from Diabetes Australia]:
In regard to your article “Schools to get diabetes – but has the Government done its homework?” (15 November) about the new national Diabetes in Schools program – it would have been useful to talk to some of the leading diabetes organisations who have been working very hard doing a lot of “homework” on behalf of the Australian Government and Health Minister Greg Hunt to design and develop the new program.
This work has been led by Diabetes Australia and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association working very closely with the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group, the Australian Diabetes Society and JDRF Australia. In short, all the leading national diabetes health professional organisations and the leading consumer organisations.
This work has involved very extensive and careful consultation with about 300 parents and families, about 700 teachers and schools principals, all state and territory Departments of Education, all state and territory Departments of Health, and with over 300 health professionals including all the key paediatric diabetes specialist services across Australia.
The work has also reviewed all of the existing information, resources and support provided to families and schools across Australia. The new program will integrate with many existing efforts.
Dr Goss (quoted in the article) has been a vocal critic of these efforts and the program for the past 18 months and many of his comments are misguided.
There are 11,000 schools age children in Australia with type 1 diabetes, just under 10,000 schools, eight different state and territory education systems and a non-government school system. In the past year at least 1,000 school age children were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Kids change school, families move, diabetes management changes, and most of the students with type 1 diabetes have commenced on CGM devices in the past 2 years following the Australian Government initiative to make these life-changing devices freely available to children and young people with type1 diabetes. Some families and schools desperately need individualised training and support, some do not.
Diabetes in Schools is a big and complex issue that requires a careful, long-term, programmatic approach that respects the critical role of parents and families, principals and school staff, and many different health professionals.
We are confident the new Diabetes in Schools program will have the support of parents and families, principals and schools, and many thousands of diabetes health professionals – this will mean the program can be successfully and effectively implemented in coming years.
We thank the Australian Government and Health Minister Greg Hunt, for their funding and support for such an important new program.
Professor Greg Johnson
[Editor’s note: the limbic published the original news item based on information provided by the health minister’s office. This did not mention the role of Diabetes Australia in the program. As an independent media outlet we sought comment from a clinician with an interest in paediatric diabetes education.]