One of my (very frequent) criticisms of diabetes conferences – especially here in Australia – is that there is not enough input from people with diabetes. The very people who are the reason that these conferences exist are largely silent and very, very invisible.
This year, however, I am so pleased to say that even though there may not be many of us storming the halls of the Adelaide Convention Centre, the voices of people with diabetes are being heard very, very loudly.
The day kicked off with a breakfast celebrating the 10th anniversary of the OzDAFNE program. There, in between discussions about the program was a video showing people who had completed DAFNE sharing their thoughts about the course.
I then headed to an often-challenging session on hypoglycaemia, where Dr Christel Hendrieckx from the ACBRD, in her session about the emotional and behavioural consequences of hypoglycaemia, dedicated a slide to quotes from this Diabetogenic post about the language we use when referring to mild and severe hypos. I am not sure that I have ever been prouder. (I also completely broke the no photos rule with this, but they are my words, so I thought I would be safe!)
In the next session , diabetes educator, Virginia Hagger (also from the ACBRD), spoke about the TEAM T1 Program. Once again, interspersed between stats and explanations of the program, quotes from teens who had attended TEAM T1 were read out, highlighting how the course helped them.
Virginia spoke again later in the day, this time about the Diabetes MILES Youth report and played the video used at the launch of the report (and shared on this post) for the audience. The words used to explain how young people feel about living with diabetes are powerful and their impact is significant.
Amelia Lake from the ACBRD (you’ve noticed the common theme here, right?) spoke about the development of a resource about young people with type 2 diabetes and retinal screening. She too provided great insight into how young adults with type 2 diabetes feel about eye checks by sharing quotes of their experiences.
While it would indeed be wonderful to have people with diabetes sitting in sessions, and standing on the podium lending their voice to provide the practical side of the theory often being discussed, incorporating the words of many into talks is a powerful and effective way to hear from us. Plus it means that there is never only one voice – which can at times seem tokenistic – being heard. Instead there are many – every single one important as the next.