It’s no secret that I have had some problems with my local licensing authority (VicRoads). It’s also no secret that I have been annoyed and rather vocal about the Austroads 2012 Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines – specifically, the introduction in 2012 of the ridiculous section defining ‘satisfactory control of diabetes’ as an A1c of 9% (and the ensuing problems it caused!)

Austroads and the advisory group involved in putting together the guidelines a couple of years ago claim that this value was never meant to disadvantage people with diabetes; that it was there to simply trigger further, specialist treatment. And that it was never intended as an automatic suspension of a driver’s licence.

That may have been the theory. The reality was quite different. Many people with diabetes reported that their treating doctor did in fact interpret the guidelines as meaning that a 9% or above A1c was grounds for licences to be suspended. And that is what happened.

But here is some good news. The new draft guidelines – currently open to consumer consultation, and due for release later this year, have removed the A1c value defining satisfactory control of diabetes. It’s been a long process, but thanks to a lot of advocacy by Diabetes Australia, this is an excellent result for people living with diabetes in Australia.

One of the most enjoyable things about my job is the policy work in which I am involved, and I was pleased earlier this year when I was asked to join the working group reviewing and revising the diabetes chapter in the Guidelines. (Disclaimer: this is part of my work at Diabetes Australia and I was asked to represent the organisation on the working group. Diabetes Australia has received a significant number of complaints from people with diabetes who had been negatively impacted when the 2012 Guidelines were introduced and I have been involved in this work since then.)

 The outcome of the review has been that some parts of the diabetes chapter have been completely rewritten. The advocacy efforts led by Diabetes Australia and involving the ADS and the ADEA, resulted in the removal of the 9% (arbitrary) value being eliminated. This is an outstanding outcome.

So, now it is your turn to do a little advocacy.

If you have some spare time over the next couple of days, and you feel really strongly about this issue, now is the time to get on board and participate. The point of public consultation is that people who are directly affected can have their say. If you have diabetes, you are directly affected. If you are the parent of a child with diabetes who, at some point, will want a driver’s licence, you are directly affected.

All the details of the consultation can be found here, including how you can make a submission. I urge you to comment – even if that is to simply say that you support the changes which should ensure that people with diabetes are not losing their licence because for a reason without an evidence base. And you might like to also add that you support the Guidelines’ focus on hypoglycaemia which absolutely can and does affect safe driving. Quick sticks – the consultation closes tomorrow.

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