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Diabetes Victoria Blog

Join the discussion in our blog where a variety of writers from all walks of life take a stance on current diabetes issues.

2019 Australasian Diabetes Congress

By Kristie Cocotis
Aboriginal and Cultural Diversity Program Team Leader

I recently attended my first Australasian Diabetes Congress, and what a buzz it was!

From 21 - 23 August 2019, hundreds of health professionals from across Australia, New Zealand and Asia came together in Sydney for three jam-packed days of workshops, seminars and lectures discussing the latest in diabetes research, programs and clinical cases.
I was given the opportunity to sit in on the symposium which was facilitated by my Diabetes Victoria peers including Carolyn Jones, Susanne Baxandall, Kim Henshaw and our Consumer Advisory Committee member Tony Seymour.

Several Diabetes Victoria staff members gave presentations at the event including:For me, the highlight of the event was feeling immensely proud of the work we do at Diabetes Victoria. I was greatly appreciative of the support and encouragement that I received from my colleagues as I presented on two quite different topics.

Identifying priority populations for diabetes in pregnancy resources

My first presentation was titled Identifying priority populations for diabetes in pregnancy resources. The presentation centred around the diabetes in pregnancy pictorial guides project carried out by Diabetes Victoria. 

Diabetes Victoria has developed a series of pictorial guides in line with health literacy principles, which are visually appealing and in simple English. A Diabetes in Pregnancy Pictorial Guide was developed with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath Organisation to support Aboriginal women. Following the release of the pictorial guide, a need was identified for an adaptation of the guide for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

This project was undertaken by a talented Master of Public Health Student, Violeta Spirkoska who completed her professional placement unit in the Aboriginal and Cultural Diversity Team at Diabetes Victoria in 2018.
As there is limited data on women with diabetes from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, we developed a methodology to assist us. Violeta undertook a mixed methods approach. This included a literature search, telephone survey of hospital staff, a review of existing diabetes in pregnancy resources and analysis of many databases.
A working group reviewed all of the results, and the three priority communities identified with the greatest need for a Diabetes in Pregnancy pictorial guide adaptation were Indian, Chinese and Karen (Myanmar).
We hope that this project highlights the complexities of choosing priority populations, and also provides an example of a process that can be helpful in choosing priority populations in a fair and equitable manner.
An ongoing commitment to making health information easier and more accessible for people living with diabetes

My second presentation was titled An ongoing commitment to making health information easier and more accessible for people living with diabetes.

At Diabetes Victoria, we recognise that it's our responsibility to ensure that we make it easy for anyone affected by diabetes to find, understand, and use information and services.This presentation detailed the journey of Diabetes Victoria to becoming a health literate organisation.

In 2015, Diabetes Victoria established a working group to provide guidance for health literacy work across the organisation. Since then, we have undertaken audits, staff surveys and a number of initiatives to increase awareness and skills around health literacy. A follow-up staff survey in 2017 indicated that these initiatives had been working with a significant increase in staff knowledge and an increase in staff applying health literacy principles in their work.

Our approaches are easily transferable and we hope other organisations will also make health literacy a priority. 
I would like to thank Carolyn Hines, Kim Hider, Julia Stoneham, Natalie Arambasic and Violeta Spirkoska for their work on these two projects and support of the presentations, as well as the efforts of the Access and Equity Committee.
If you would like more information on the presentations that I gave, or have any questions please contact Kristie Cocotis, Aboriginal and Cultural Diversity Program Team Leader on 03 9667 1741 or via email