Message from the CEO & President
This year Diabetes SA celebrated seventy years of supporting people living with and at risk of diabetes in South Australia. An incredible achievement when you consider the organisation’s humble beginnings back in 1953. From the early days in the Eleanor Harold Building in the city to our premises at Hilton, we have been here supporting the South Australian community with education, support, information, products, and funding to support diabetes research.
Whilst originally an organisation for people living with type 1 diabetes, particularly children, we have seen this change over the decades and now our work covers supporting people with all types of diabetes, including those at risk of developing the condition.
With diabetes being a major and growing public health issue, increasing levels of intervention and investment are required as sadly South Australia has the highest rates of diabetes
With a focus on highlighting the need for greater support we wrote our first pre-budget submission to the State Government calling for funding to:
- Boost diabetes research in South Australia through a co-funding arrangement with Diabetes SA Co-design a type 2 diabetes prevention program for the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population and Implement a community awareness campaign to detect and prevent diabetes.
- With no state government funding to support our work, coupled with the increasing scale and prevalence of diabetes across South Australia this prompted us to seek funding support.
- Whilst we were unsuccessful in receiving any funding, we did have the opportunity to highlight the issues South Australia is facing with our submission being distributed to both sides of the government. An audience with the Governor enabled us to share the burden and impact of diabetes in South Australia. Our attention will now turn to the 2024/2025 pre-budget submission round in early 2024 and further engagement with government and other
Working across the strategic pillars of detection, prevention, and management this year we collaborated and partnered with many organisations to amplify our impact. One of our successful projects continues to be our detection program and has seen a long-term relationship built with Masonic Charities Trust who has provided funding to support an early detection and screening program in Men’s Shed and Freemasons Lodges across South Australia. With men less likely to participate in screening than women, we aim to have screened 3,000 men by the end of 2024 providing them with education on the steps they can take to change some of their behaviours around modifiable risks. We are very grateful to Masonic Charities Trust as without this funding we would not have been able to have the impact we have had.
In early 2023 our AUS2PREVENT Trial commenced. With a focus on preventative research, we aim to test the feasibility, acceptability, and the cost effectiveness of a 12-month behaviour change program that prevents or delays the onset of type 2 diabetes in South Australians at risk of or living with prediabetes. With 180,000 South Australians currently at risk of developing type 2 diabetes this is important work as we know that in up to 58% of cases type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle modification and intense support. External funding to support the program will be needed to ensure that we can implement this as part of our ongoing suite of programs.
Our reach into the community has seen education and support provided to 7,796 people living with or at risk of diabetes, 305 support people, 581 health professionals, 938 school staff and 337 community members across all our programs and services. We travelled across metropolitan Adelaide and country areas delivering education and support to the community. We provided phone support to a further 3,223 people with diabetes, community members and health professionals.
Our retail offering expanded this year and is now the largest store for all your diabetes management essentials in South Australia. With a vision to provide a seamless customer experience, expert product knowledge and advice we have seen a 28% growth overall in total retail sales and a 70% growth in online sales coupled with an increase in member satisfaction. Income derived from the retail offering supports the Association’s service delivery. Pleasingly we welcomed 2,280 new Members to Diabetes SA, answered 11,300 customer service calls and responded to 940 online chats.
Our Research Grants Program continues to grow with one of the 2020 research funded projects reaching a conclusion post COVID interruptions and research project updates being featured both 2020 and 2022 grant recipients. Our appreciation is extended to all our Members and donors who have supported the Diabetes SA Research Grants Program through a donation to research. To date nearly $800,000 has been provided to 11 South Australian researchers for diabetes research. Our Research Advisory Committee is currently reviewing the Diabetes SA Research Grants Program
Our Board, CEO and Management have been working across the year to develop the next three-year strategic plan. This has also included a review of the vision and mission of the Association and we hope to share this with our stakeholders in the coming months.
In the later part of the year, we commenced recruitment welcoming five new Board Members with diverse skill sets following resignations from Allan Baird, John Jovicevic, Christine Bell, Clare MacAdam, and Gus Abimosleh. Thank you to each for your service to the Board and the contributions made to the Association and to the remaining Board Members for your support.
In closing I would like to acknowledge our wonderful staff who tirelessly work to support the community of South Australians living with or at risk of diabetes. They really do put the person living with or at risk of diabetes at the heart of everything they do.