DON’T MISS: Diabetes Queensland is bringing a special Gestational Diabetes Forum, featuring expert panellists, to seven Queensland locations. Turn to page 4 for more...

No sweeter success The success of Diabetes Queensland’s Got Suga program, reaching out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from Logan to Cape York, offers key lessons for all health professionals. Program coordinator Grace Ward shares what she’s learned ahead of Diabetes Queensland’s participation in a world-first project, the I.D.E.A.S Van (Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening).

Focusing on the negatives is never helpful... no matter how unintentional. This advice sits at the top of Grace Ward’s list when it comes to the narrative surrounding type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “When people talk about type 2 diabetes in these communities, there tends to be an overly negative focus, and this is something that all health professionals need to be mindful of,” says Grace, who recently earned an Indigenous Allied Health Australia award. “Yes, we all know that approximately 280 Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every day and that Indigenous Australians are three times more likely to develop type 2 and at greater risk of complications “However, focusing on the negatives can influence attitudes and have an adverse impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of whole communities.” By contrast, Grace and her colleagues on Diabetes Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Team are proud of the fact that the Got Suga program is anchored to positive goals. Since its inception three years ago, the innovative program has delivered important health messages via more

culturally effective methods of providing basic education about diabetes as well as utilising theatre for change processes to explore individual, family, community and organisational approaches to dealing with diabetes. At the start of the workshop, Grace, together with local Diabetes Educators, runs a one-hour interactive session that focuses on what happens in the body of someone diagnosed with diabetes. This training utilises the Feltman education tool, developed by the Victorian

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Diabetes Australia-Vic. “One of the things people often say is that until they saw the Feltman tool, which centres on visual/kinaesthetic learning, they didn’t know what diabetes was and how it can affect other parts of the body, like eyes, kidneys and feet,” Grace says. “And they may have had the condition for 15 years.” The two-year pilot project is backed by $5 million in Queensland Government funding provided to the Diamond Jubilee Partnerships Ltd (a subsidiary of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Australia). As part of the project, Diabetes Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Team staff will provide training and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to enhance their skills and confidence in supporting people living with diabetes in their communities. Pictured: Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute recently joined Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg to unveil the project’s centrepiece – a 60-foot purpose built ophthalmic truck.

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I.D.E.A.S by the truckload Diabetes Queensland is one of 13 partners behind the I.D.E.A.S Van (Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening), a world-first project that aims to close the health gap for Indigenous communities across the state by focusing on treating and preventing diabetes-related eye disease.

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