Letters to the editor | July 10, 2017

Greater awareness needed

A NEW diabetes awareness survey conducted by Diabetes Victoria highlights the urgent need for Victorians to learn more about this invisible condition.

While every second respondent could not identify the correct number of Victorians developing diabetes every day, one in five respondents believed they were not at risk of developing this relentless condition.

But we know that diabetes does not discriminate. People from all walks of life can develop diabetes – they come in all shapes, sizes, ages, gender identities and ethnicities.

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.

Diabetes Victoria has launched a new campaign website: invisiblecondition.org.au where Victorians can learn more about diabetes. A 30-second video visualises the growing number of people affected by the condition, which flies under the radar of the general public and can lead to many health complications.

Key highlights from the survey include:

  • More than 500 Victorians participated in the Diabetes Victoria awareness survey in May. Of those, 37.8 per cent were living with diabetes, 52 per cent had a friend or family member living with diabetes and only 10.2 per cent were neither living with nor knew somebody else living with diabete; 
  • Over half of respondents did not know that 80 Victorians develop diabetes each and every day; 
  • Almost half of all respondents did not know or were unsure if they were at risk of developing diabetes; 
  • Many respondents correctly identified that a family history can significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes; and 
  • More than two out of three respondents believed that diabetes can be caused if people eat too much sugar. This belief is incorrect and one of the many myths and misconceptions surrounding this complex condition.

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia and about 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. 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.

Craig Bennett, chief executive, Diabetes Victoria

Conserving language

NAIDOC Week was a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s, history, culture and achievements while recognising the immense contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our great country.

The 2017 NAIDOC Week theme “Our Languages Matter” highlighted the unique and essential role Australian Indigenous languages contribute to cultural identity including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.

The results of the 2016 Census of Population and Housing show that one in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak an Indigenous language at home. There were more than 170 Indigenous languages and language families reported on the Census, of which 69 had at least 100 speakers.

The most reported Indigenous language was Kriol, with almost 7200 speakers and was most common in Western Australia (2400 speakers), predominantly in the West Kimberley region, and the Northern Territory (4400 speakers), mainly from Katherine.

In the nation’s North East, 5900 usual residents of Queensland reported speaking Yumplatok (Torres Strait Creole) out of a total of 6200 nationally.

The 2016 Census also found that Indigenous languages are far more common outside of capital city areas, with 93 per cent of people who speak an Indigenous language at home residing outside of the state and territory capitals.

Only 1.9 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in capital cities spoke an Indigenous language, compared with 14.3 per cent of those living outside state and territory capitals.

The highest prevalence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speaking an Indigenous language was seen in the Indigenous regions of Nhulunbuy (NT) with 91 per cent, Jabiru-Tiwi (NT) with 85 per cent, followed by Apatula (NT) and Torres Strait (QLD) with 78 per cent.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), a separate statistical collection to the Census, also includes detailed information on languages spoken, but also reports on cultural identification and participation.

Data taken from the 2014-15 NATSISS showed about six in 10 (62 per cent) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over identified with a clan, tribal or language group (79 per cent in remote areas compared with 58 per cent in non-remote areas).

It also found almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over, and 75 per cent of children aged four to 14 years, had been involved in selected cultural events, ceremonies or organisations in the previous 12 months, showing a strong cultural engagement among young Indigenous Australians.

If you’d like to know more, a wide range of 2016 Census data relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be found on the ABS website.

Anthony Grubb, director, 2016 Census 

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