Health and wellbeing

Destigmatising type 1 diabetes: looking for a little understanding

To coincide with World Diabetes Day research has been released that shows almost half of all Australians living with type 1 diabetes have felt bullied or some form of social exclusion.

The research conducted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) gives us an insight into the challenges constantly faced by young people like Bryce Riches of Bairnsdale who we featured last month.

Apparently 46% of Australians with type 1 have felt bullied or have felt excluded from activities, despite more than 90% being open about their disease in an attempt to increase public understanding.

People like Bryce have type 1 diabetes through no fault of their own. It is a non-preventable chronic disease for which the cause it not fully known. JDRF says factors such as diet, weight and lifestyle do not contribute to developing the disease.

20 year old Bryce, who was diagnosed at age 15, said he is open about the disease but many people still don’t understand.

“You have to really watch what you’re eating and what you’re drinking,” he said. “It is awkward, like when you take insulin in a public place.”

Like he does at home, if Bryce is in a food court or restaurant he needs to lift his shirt to inject himself before eating.

“Like the other day at Fountain Gate, kids were staring at me. Young kids, they don’t know what I’m doing. They probably thought I was taking drugs.

“People old enough know what I’m doing though but you still get those glares.

“If I go for a night out, in one pocket I’ve got my tester kit and my insulin, in another pocket I have jelly beans (which diabetics always need to carry), and a phone and wallet in the other pockets.”

Team Novo Nordisk professional cyclist Justin Morris also lives with type 1 diabetes and like Bryce, he is keen to raise awareness about the disease and increase public understanding to put a stop to bullying.

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 10 years old,” said Justin.

“I understand the feelings of pain experienced by many children, teenagers and even adults from negative or insensitive comments, because of the lack of understanding of type 1 diabetes.”

JDRF CEO Mike Wilson said events such as World Diabetes Day create a conversation between the type 1 community and general public.

“It provides an opportunity to destigmatise and dispel any myths surrounding the disease,” he said.

“This World Diabetes Day I encourage the public to go online and learn about type 1 diabetes, and call on members of the type 1 community to have a chat with their friend, neighbour or employer to increase public understandings of the disease in the hope of putting a stop to the bullying and exclusion.”

You can learn more about type 1 diabetes by visiting

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