NACCHO Aboriginal health news: Our Cathy Freeman flies flag for her diabetes



  • Diabetes rates in Australia are high but its prevalence in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is between three and four times higher than the rest of Australia.
  • We are fast running out of time to stop this disease from creating a national disaster.
  • As mentioned many programs have been implemented to address this but still the life expectancy for Aboriginal people remains 15 to 20 years below that of other Australians with death rates for adults 3 to 4 times higher than the non-Aboriginal population

Athletics hero Cathy Freeman has run for the lives of 1.5 million Australians with diabetes in a fun event

You can read all NACCHO diabetes articles here

The Olympic gold medallist and former Australian of the Year says she is living proof that diabetes can affect anyone, regardless of how fit they are.

‘I live with type 2 diabetes. As someone who exercises regularly and takes care of what I eat, it was a bit of a shock to find out about my diagnosis.

‘It highlights how indiscriminate and common the condition is. Everyone should look out for the warning signs, know the risks and have regular checks with their doctor,’ says Freeman, who is 40-years-old.

She ran  in a 5km fun run in Melbourne on behalf of Diabetes Australia Victoria and healthcare company Abbott.

The run marks the end of Diabetes Week.

‘Although I had immediate family members who are living with type 2 diabetes, I didn’t realise that increased my risk,’ says Ms Freeman.

She was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in 2011 shortly before becoming pregnant with her first child, Ruby. She later developed type 2 diabetes.

‘I’m proud to be running with more than 160 fellow Australians who are either living with or have family members or friends impacted by diabetes.’

Freeman in 1992 became the first Aboriginal person to represent Australia at the Olympics.

The rate of type 2 diabetes for Aboriginal Australians is estimated to be three times higher than for other Australians.

Other risk factors include family history, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

Craig Bennett, CEO of Diabetes Australia Victoria, says around 280 Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every day.

‘That is more than 100,000 Australians diagnosed every year. Reducing this number is vital.’

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