Improving systems of care and services for people with diabetes and their families in rural and remote Australia (NT, FNQ & Kimberley)

Youth Diabetes

Rates of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth are increasing and have been documented as twenty-fold higher than for non-Indigenous youth. Youth-onset diabetes can have serious complications, significantly impair quality of life and reduce life expectancy. Our previous research has shown that managing youth type 2 diabetes is challenging: it can be complex and many young people also experience mental health concerns, social stigma, socio-economic disadvantage, food insecurity and issues associated with remoteness.

Our Northern Australian Youth Type 2 Diabetes Collaboration involves health professionals, policy makers and researchers across Northern Australia. This program of work to improve models of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth with type 2 diabetes has been strongly supported by health services, clinicians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, and is funded by the Commonwealth Government (2020-2023).

The main aim of this work is to develop, pilot and evaluate culturally safe approaches to type 2 diabetes management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth across Northern Australia (Kimberley, Northern Territory and Far North Queensland).This co-design project is being undertaken in collaboration with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with type 2 diabetes, their families and communities and health service providers. It involves the following components:


(1) Building awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth type 2 diabetes and addressing stigma in the broader community

We are working with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to develop, test and evaluate strategies for raising awareness and improve knowledge about youth type 2 diabetes. This includes developing information resources such as , flyers, a social media campaign, working with local media organisations and youth organisations.


(2) Working with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with type 2 diabetes and their families to design effective models of care

We are collaborating with children and youth and their families in each site to develop, test and evaluate culturally safe and age-appropriate strategies enhance young people’s understandings of diabetes, support their access to care and to enable effective management strategies. This includes the formation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth reference groups and the development of peer-support models (for example, peer-support networks and camps).


(3) Working within health systems and with clinicians

We are collaborating with key clinicians and service providers involved in the clinical management of type  2 diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. With clinicians in Aboriginal community-controlled and government health services, we have developed new screening and management guidelines and fact sheets. We are also developing and distributing referral pathways relevant to each region. Opportunities for changes in health systems and practice to better support young people are being identified, with a focus on diagnosis, prevention of complications, and effective engagement with families.

Enhanced models of care will be pilot tested over a 12-month period and evaluated using a developmental evaluation approach. This approach is responsive to emergent findings and context, providing real-time opportunities to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of the model.


Key outputs of project:

1. Enhanced model of care developed, piloted, evaluated for broader implementation.
2. Production of age-appropriate and culturally-safe educational resources to improve knowledge and awareness.
3. Describe prevalence rates of type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth



NT Diabetes in young people project overview

Study brochure – Top End

Study brochure – Central Australia

Study brochure – Western Australia

Study brochure – Far North Queensland


For more information or to get involved contact:

Top End
Marylin Carino (Project Coordinator)
Phone: 0472 629 854

Central Australia
Kim Martin (Project Coordinator)
Phone: 0472 638 456

Western Australia
Sue Piggott (Project Coordinator)
Phone: 0472 651 930

Far North Queensland
Damian Kukulies (Project Coordinator)
Phone: 0472 639 845