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The NDSS is administered by Diabetes Australia
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Peer support for diabetes fact sheet

PDF coverThis fact sheet is available in two formats.

You can download and print out the PDF version.

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Connecting with other people who have diabetes is an effective means of accessing peer support. Sharing your experiences with others who face the daily challenges of managing diabetes can help you feel less alone. Read on to find out about peer support and how to access it in your area.

“It’s nice to be able to contact someone who’s exactly the same as you. They give you that little bit of encouragement. You may be having a flat day and you just want to go, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get up   for work’, and that someone is saying, ‘No, you can do it’ … I think it’s great.”

James, 26, person with diabetes

What is peer support?

Peer support is when people living with a chronic condition (like diabetes) give and/or receive support from one another.

Many people who have diabetes have never talked to anyone else with diabetes, even though they may want to. This can feel very isolating.

People with diabetes may access peer support because:

  • family and friends, despite their best efforts, can’t fully understand what it’s like to live with diabetes
  • health professionals may not always have the time to talk about all aspects of living with diabetes.

Peer support is a way for people with diabetes to share their:

  • knowledge and skills
  • insights and experiences
  • thoughts and concerns
  • feelings about living with diabetes.

This can happen in the form of organised, face-to-face peer support groups or one-to-one telephone support; casual conversation; or through various technologies such as SMS texts and the internet (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, email or online forums).

What to expect from peer support

Connecting with other people who have diabetes can help in many ways. You may:

  • feel less alone (e.g., have someone to talk to or encourage you when diabetes gets you down)
  • learn from others about self-management (e.g., how to put medical advice into practice, share helpful tips and boost your motivation levels)
  • be able to share tips about access to health professionals and community resources (e.g., personal recommendations)
  • improve your overall health and wellbeing.

What not to expect from peer support

Peer support can lead to many positive experiences but it:

  • does not replace the advice you get from your health professional (e.g., about treatments or lifestyle). Always talk to your health professional before making changes to the way you manage your diabetes
  • may not be the right ‘fit’ for you, as it’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Some people prefer not to talk about their feelings, or would prefer to do so only with their health professional
  • is unlikely to give you the answers to all of your problems. Peer support can be a great source of information and advice, but it won’t necessarily ‘solve’ all your diabetes-related concerns.

If you are unsure about joining a peer support group/community, share your thoughts and feelings with people you trust. Also consider talking about this with your diabetes health professional. They can help you work out what kind of support would be most helpful for you.

“Over the years I’ve met a few friends with diabetes. Every now and then we have a chat about how things are going. It’s definitely helpful to have people who can relate to it.”

Lorna, 62, person with diabetes

More information and support

Diabetes Australia and the NDSS
NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700

Through the NDSS, you can access a free national NDSS Helpline to obtain information about diabetes and learn about education programs, peer support groups and other events.

Contact your state/territory diabetes organisation for more information about peer support near you:

Diabetes NSW and ACT

ph 1800 637 700

Diabetes Queensland

ph 1800 637 700

Diabetes SA

ph 1800 637 700

Diabetes Tasmania

ph 1800 637 700

Diabetes Victoria

ph 1800 637 700

Diabetes WA

ph 1800 637 700

Healthy Living NT

ph 08 8927 8488

Contact your state/territory Aboriginal community controlled health organisation:

Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of New South Wales

ph 02 9212 4777

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

ph 03 9411 9411

Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council

ph 07 3328 8500

Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia

ph 08 9227 1631

Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia

ph 08 8273 7200

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory

ph 08 8944 6666

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre

ph 03 6234 0700

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (ACT)

ph 02 6284 6222

If you have type 1 diabetes, you may also be interested in the following:

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

For one-on-one peer support:

For group peer support:

Phone by state/territory:

NSW: 02 9020 6100
VIC/TAS: 03 8374 6200
QLD/NT: 07 3046 2700
WA: 08 6444 0700
SA: 08 8490 0100
ACT: 02 6109 4900

You can also ask your diabetes health care team about any peer support programs they may be aware of.

The NDSS and you

A wide range of services and support is available through the NDSS to help you manage your diabetes. This includes information on diabetes management through the NDSS Helpline and website. The products, services and education programs available can help you stay on top of your diabetes.

This information is intended as a guide only. It should not replace individual medical advice. If you have any concerns about your health, or further questions, you should contact your health professional.

Version 3 March 2020. First published June 2016.