I’ve been working in diabetes organisations for over seventeen years now. When I look back over that time, there are some issues that have been consistent ‘hot topics’.

One of those issues is diabetes in schools.

I have been involved in a number of projects addressing diabetes in schools, starting with the beautiful documentary-like video ‘Diabetes Basics’, and the adaptation of the excellent Diabetes UK schools packs for families of children with diabetes and their schools, firstly in Victoria, and then the subsequent national roll out of this resource. It is called Mastering Diabetes and it still is used today.

It is easy to understand why diabetes and schools is such an important issue. Ensuring that children with diabetes feel safe at school, are able to manage their diabetes in the way that works for them, and are able to fully participate in all school activities is critically important. There is obviously – and necessarily – a lot of emotion tied up in the matter.

But what I have come to know is that, by and large, everyone involved – parents, teachers and school staff – want children and teens with diabetes to be safe in schools and participate in all school and extra-curricular activities just as any other student would. There just seems to be a lot of confusion about rights and responsibilities, which is often the case when there are a number of stakeholders involved.

So, it was great when, just last month, the Federal Government announced six million dollars in funding for a new program to make it easier for teachers to support school children with diabetes, and give parents some peace of mind, knowing that their children will be safe at school.

It will be the first time that Australia has a nationally consistent training program delivered to teachers and school staff at every school with students with type 1 diabetes. The program will cover, (amongst other things), safe administration of insulin, hypo management, and reducing diabetes-related stigma.

This is good news. Great news!

The program is still in development stage and a key part of putting it together is making sure that all involved have a chance to provide input. One of the things I have heard repeatedly over the years from parents is that they feel that they are often left out of conversations about how to best support their child at school.

Parents: now is your chance!

There are workshops being held across the country for parents of primary and secondary aged children. There is also an online consultation for parents here.

Teachers and school staff are also part of this development phase and there are separate workshops being held for this group as well. And there is also an online consultation for for teachers and school staff here.

Now is the time to have your say.

Disappointingly, numbers for workshops has been extraordinarily low – some sessions have had to be cancelled due to low numbers. Considering the constant criticisms I have heard in the past about parents being excluded from discussions about diabetes and schools programs, I’m a little flabbergasted that this is the case.

At the risk of sounding slightly bossy and harrying, I am urging parents of school aged children to please get involved and help shape this important program. You need to show up. You need to register and attend the workshops. And you need to complete the online consultation.

All the details are here. Share them amongst your networks. Encourage parents and teachers of kids with diabetes to have their say. Everyone – everyone!– wants kids with diabetes to feel safe and supported in schools. Help make that happen.

The Diabetes in Schools program is being funded by the Federal Government and will be delivered through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). The program is supported by the key national diabetes health professional and consumer organisations in Australia: Diabetes Australia, the Australian Diabetes Educators Association, the Australian Diabetes Society , the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group and JDRF Australia.  

I work for Diabetes Australia. I have not been asked to write about this program, however as I am always banging the drum about consumer consultation, it more than makes sense that I am encouraging – and pleading – relevant stakeholders to take the opportunity to be a part of the program consultation.