The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport – Inquiry into Diabetes

31 August 2023

Key messages 

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic endocrine disorder that occurs when either the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin produced. Collectively, type 1 and type 2 DM effect over 1.3 million (1 in 20) Australians, many of whom live in rural regions of Australia with limited access to specialist and primary health care. One in six women in Australia who gave birth in 2021–22 were diagnosed with gestational diabetesd (GDM). Around 7.9 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (64,000) are living with diabetes – almost three times the rate of their non-Indigenous counterparts. 

The latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicate the prevalence of type 1 DM remained stable across Australia over the past two decades, while the incidence of type 2 DM fell in the past decade due to improved preventive activities – screening, education programs and behaviour modifications.3 Unfortunately for rural Australians, the prevalence of diabetes increases with remoteness and with the level of socioeconomic disadvantage. Figure 1 demonstrates the prevalence of type 2 DM with remoteness. Moreover, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a 2.2 times higher incidence rate for diabetes than non-Indigenous people. 

Diabetes and its complications result in high health costs and reduced quality of life for rural Australians. Australians living in rural and remote areas are 1.3 times more likely to be living with diabetes than those in major cities. The disparity is greater for females (1.6 times) than males (1.1 times)...

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