What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterised by high blood glucose levels resulting from the body not producing insulin or using it properly. Insulin is a hormone that converts food (starches and sugar) into energy.

There are two major types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin. It is most often diagnosed in children. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections every day to stay alive. Type 1 accounts for 10%-15% of diabetes.
  • Type 2 is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough insulin or properly use it. Type 2 accounts for 85%-90% of people with diabetes and is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of physical activity and poor eating habits. Genetic factors also largely contribute to type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Australia has more information.

Supporting students with diabetes at school


Supporting students with diabetes involves understanding and planning for their needs.

Parents need to inform the school if their child has diabetes and provide relevant information from the child's doctor when requested by the school.

The principal will consult with parents and staff in determining arrangements for supporting the student's needs.

Starting kindergarten

Parents should talk to their local school principal at least 6 months before they plan to enrol their child in Kindergarten. This is also advisable when parents are considering enrolling their child in a government pre-school.

This will allow enough time for the school learning support team to coordinate the development and implementation of an educational/transition plan.

Students moving from primary to secondary school

Parents should inform the new secondary school during the enrolment process of their child's health condition and arrange a meeting with the principal.

Individual health support plans

An individual health support plan is required for a student with type 1 diabetes.

An individual health support plan may also assist planning for a student with type 2 diabetes, for example, where blood glucose testing needs to occur in school hours.

A note about physical activity

Students with diabetes are able to participate in sport and physical activity including vigorous sports.. Information about physical activity is available on the as1diabetes website.

Legal issues

Should a student be injured or made ill as a result of the administration of prescribed medication or health care procedures by a member of staff, the staff member is protected by the legal principle of vicarious liability in relation to personal injury proceedings.

This means that unless the staff member has deliberately injured the student, or behaved with reckless disregard for the student's safety, the department will be liable for any injury caused by the negligence of the staff member.

Related information

Diabetes NSW and ACT

Diabetes Kids and Teens - As 1 Diabetes

Acknowledgement: These materials have been revised with assistance from Diabetes NSW and ACT.

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