Community leaders unite to tackle diabetes in western Sydney

01 May 2014

The ‘Western Sydney Diabetes Prevention and Management Forum – Planning for Our Future’ was held on Monday night at Parramatta Town Hall and for the first time community leaders from various sectors united to put the spotlight on diabetes prevention.

It is estimated that over 200,000 people, or a quarter of the western Sydney population, are likely to be affected by diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The forum, sponsored by Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), Western Sydney Medicare Local (WSML), and Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), explored opportunities to address the social determinants of diabetes in western Sydney from a whole of government, business and whole of society perspective.

It was attended by members of the newly formed Western Sydney Diabetes Prevention and Management Initiative Steering Committee, including representatives from local councils; housing, transport, planning and education services; NGOs; the Australian Diabetes Council; food suppliers and urban developers.

Professor Glen Maberly, WSLHD Senior Medical Advisor for Innovation and Redesign, said, "The steering committee was formed to address a clear goal - to develop healthier communities in western Sydney through an integrated approach to urban planning and design.

Danny O

"We especially focussed on the opportunity that the new planning environment brings to the growth areas in our suburbs.

“I am delighted that so many key decision makers from various sectors united to consider the importance of acting together, and acting now, to begin to turn the tide towards a healthier future. 

“It is through this strong collaboration of people and organisations that we will make a difference to the future health and wellbeing of our community,” said Prof Maberly.

Western Sydney is considered a diabetes hot-spot with four of the five local government areas experiencing rates of diabetes above the NSW and national rates.

By 2025 it has been estimates that the prevalence of diabetes within western Sydney will be 204 per cent higher in men and 147 per cent higher in women.

“These figures are concerning and everyone has a part to play in changing the health and wellbeing of our community. Western Sydney Local Health District is committed to this challenge, said Prof Maberly.

Walter Kmet, Chief Executive Officer, Western Sydney Medicare Local said, “Diabetes rates in western Sydney are troubling and as the Western Sydney Medicare Local we are committed to working with our partners and local health professionals to better coordinate services across the region.

The Western Sydney Diabetes Prevention and Management Initiative strategic document was jointly released at the forum by Danny O’Connor, WSLHD Chief Executive, and Walter Kmet, WSML Chief Executive Officer, and aims to address the incidence of diabetes in our community.

For more information about the Western Sydney Diabetes Prevention and Management Initiative strategy, please visit the WSLHD website via: http://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Performance-and-Publications/Western-Sydney-Diabetes-Prevention-and-Management-Initiative.