Diabetes Australia is the third oldest diabetes association in the world after the United Kingdom and Portugal.
Australia’s first Diabetic Association was formed in 1937 in NSW. It was not until the 1950s that similar Associations were formed in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. These Associations were all self-help organisations aiming to improve the lives of people with diabetes through practical guidance and public education. Their similar roles and functions meant it was inevitable some kind of an alliance would eventually form. By 1956, there was considerable momentum to form a federal council of Associations.
The Diabetes Federation of Australia
The inaugural council meeting of the Diabetes Federation of Australia (DFA) was held in Sydney in October 1957. Diabetic Associations in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania sent representatives and consequently, these organisations became the DFA’s inaugural members.
The DFA was established to be the official voice for diabetes in Australia to the government and the International Diabetes Federation.
The DFA began publishing The Diabetic Journal for distribution every three months to members of state and territory diabetes associations. This journal was re-named Conquest in 1959 and the Circle in 2015. The Circle has changed its layout several times but is still published quarterly and provided free to members of Diabetes Australia.
In the late 1960s, both the Diabetic Association of Western Australia (founded in 1965) and the Diabetic Association of Queensland (founded 1968) joined the DFA. The Canberra Diabetes Centre (later to become an association in the ACT) joined in 1971.
On 8 September 1976, the DFA was registered in the ACT as a company limited by guarantee under the Companies Ordinance Act 1962.
DFA’s member organisations continue to operate independently within their state boundaries.
By 1982 there were six diabetes associations or societies committed to the care of people with diabetes in Australia:
- Diabetes Federation of Australia (DFA) – founded in 1957
- Australian Diabetes Society (ADS) – founded in 1973
- Kellion Foundation – founded in 1974
- Diabetes Research Foundation of Western Australia (DRF of WA) – founded in 1976
- Diabetes Youth Foundation – (DYF) founded in 1981
- Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) – founded in 1981.
The Australian Diabetes Foundation
In March 1983, delegates of the DFA and the ADS at a joint meeting decided to unite under the name of The Australian Diabetes Foundation (ADF). It was also agreed that a national secretariat should be established in Canberra. The ADF was registered in the ACT as an incorporated company limited by guarantee.
The inaugural meeting of the ADF took place in the form of a dinner at the Moonee Valley Racecourse, Melbourne on 1st October 1983. A national council of delegates nominated by member organisations became the governing body of the ADF and also a discussion forum for member organisations. The council soon assumed responsibility for approving national policies on diabetes care.
Officially, the ADS became the medical and scientific section of the new ADF with a one-third representation on both the national council and the executive committee.
In 1985, the Diabetes Youth Foundation* (DYF) and the Diabetes Research Foundation of Western Australia (DRF of WA) were formally admitted as ADF members. In 1986, the Kellion Foundation and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) also joined the ADF.
*later re-named Juvenile Diabetes Foundation of Australia
Change of Name to Diabetes Australia
In 1987 the ADF changed its name to Diabetes Australia. At the same time, the triangular logo in conjunction with the name Diabetes Australia, became the company’s registered trademark. The new ‘turn around’ logo for Diabetes Australia was introduced in 2007.
In about 1991, the Juvenile Foundation of Australia (JDFA) withdrew as a member organization of Diabetes Australia. Since then the Diabetes Australia Federation has consisted of seven member organisations, each falling into one (at least) of the following categories:
- Specialist – medical, educational, scientific
- Community - state and territory diabetes organisations
- Research - DART, Kellion, DRFWA.
Except in relation to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), member organisations remain independent in matters relating to their own day-to-day operations. They can also make independent decisions about whether to be involved in national events, programs and projects.
In regard to the NDSS, which first came into operation in 1987, there is total compliance because state and territory diabetes associations are Agents to a primary contract existing between Diabetes Australia and the Australian Government.
Sources: Peter Stretton, F.I.R. Martin - A History of Diabetes in Australia (Book)
National Diabetes Service Scheme History
2007 marked the 20th anniversary for the NDSS and 20 years of the Scheme being successfully delivered by Diabetes Australia, on behalf of the Australian Government. The Head Agreement was renegotiated with the Australian Government in 2007. The new agreement was valued at $750 million over five years and included additional funding to support the work of Diabetes Australia through the NDSS.
Diabetes Australia also launched a new brand for the NDSS in 2007.
The NDSS brand was developed to give the Scheme a unique identity, which is easily recognisable and acknowledges the significant financial support provided by the Australian Government. By including the Diabetes Australia brand, it also symbolises the joint efforts that are in place towards helping people living with diabetes.
The state and territory diabetes organisations have more than 134,000 paid members throughout Australia.