Diabetes largely remains an ‘invisible condition’ for many Australians, according to a survey conducted by Diabetes Victoria during the National Diabetes Week, an awareness campaign which ends today. The findings of the survey not only offer valuable insight on the health status of Victorians, but they are also a useful tool in further raising awareness for diabetes.

“Diabetes does not discriminate. People from all walks of life can develop diabetes – they come in all shapes, sizes, ages, gender identities and ethnicities,” says Diabetes Victoria CEO Craig Bennett, who points out that every day more than 80 Victorians develop diabetes. Latest figures show that 314,000 Victorians have been diagnosed with one of the three main types of diabetes. In addition, Diabetes Victoria estimates that a further 125,000 Victorians don’t know that they have Type 2 diabetes. A further 500,000 Victorians are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. “This is why our new digital awareness campaign for this year’s National Diabetes Week highlights that diabetes is an invisible condition,” Mr Bennett says. “You cannot see if somebody is at risk of developing diabetes. Many people at risk do not have ‘warning signs’, helping them to understand that something is amiss. Likewise, you cannot see if somebody already has diabetes, nor can you tell which type of diabetes they have. Diabetes is truly an invisible condition.”

According to the data at hand, diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, affecting around 1.7 million Australians. This includes all types of diagnosed diabetes, as well as silent or undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. More than 108,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year alone.
Despite no data on specific cultures and ethnicities being offered, there are some facts available for the Greek Australian population of New South Wales, which account for 4.3 per cent of the total overseas born population of that area. Greek born NSW residents aged 16 years or over were found to have a significantly higher prevalence of diabetes or high blood glucose (18 per cent) when compared to the 2002-2005 state average, which stood at 6.6 per cent (or more accurately it was 7.4 per cent for males and 5.8 per cent for females – for German-born citizens, the respective numbers were 11.4 and 10.5 per cent). This further confirms the findings of the 1997 Migrant Health Survey, according to which people born in Greece had a significantly higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes (5.3 per cent), compared to people born in non-English speaking countries as a whole (4.1 per cent).