Diabetes in Schools Program Update

Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP in September 2018 announced funding of $6 million over two years to develop and deliver the program through the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

A nationally consistent training program for teachers and school staff will be targeted at every school with a student with type 1 diabetes. This program will cover the safe administration of insulin, hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level) management, and “normalising” diabetes in schools to ensure students are not stigmatised.

The program is being developed with input from a wide range of stakeholders. It will also clarify the legal framework for diabetes management in schools. Currently there is confusion about who can train school staff, and which school staff should be trained.

Diabetes Australia has been busy talking to hundreds of parents, teachers and health professionals to help shape the development of the new National Diabetes in Schools Program.

In October, we conducted more than 75 workshops in all capital cities, as well as teleconferences for people in rural and remote areas.

We also release a national online survey for parents, teachers and clinicians who were unable to attend consultations. This attracted more than 2000 responses, at least half of which were from parents.

In mid-November, we held a National Forum in Canberra bringing together 50 key stakeholders from peak health and education groups, as well as principals, clinicians and parents to discuss some of challenges and opportunities for the program.

Diabetes Australia is developing the program in partnership with the Australian Diabetes Educators Association. The program is also supported by JDRF Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society and the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said talking with parents of children with type 1 diabetes, as well health professionals and schools, about the best ways of managing diabetes at school was vital to the success of the program.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we want to build on the good work that currently exists while understanding where the gaps are,” Professor Johnson said. “It’s been very positive to see such a high level of engagement through the consultative workshops. We are very thankful for all the parents, teachers, school staff and health professionals who took the time to have their say. The insights they have shared have been invaluable.”

Some of the key findings of the consultation included:

  • confusion and inconsistency from state to state about the roles and responsibilities of parents, schools and treating clinical teams
  • inconsistency in education and training programs available to support schools
  • parents often bear the responsibility of day to day management meaning they are unable to work or endure ongoing stress in relation to managing the day to day responsibility
  • individualised diabetes management plans are often outdated or inaccurate
  • training gaps for schools, particularly in relation to the high uptake of new Continuous Glucose Monitors, recently subsidised by the Australian Government
  • there is no accurate or comprehensive data source on the schools that children with type 1 diabetes attend, or the schools that have received training and education about insulin administration and type 1 diabetes.

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