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what is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes (formerly known as insulin dependant diabetes or juvenile diabetes) occurs when the pancreas is unable to make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that acts as a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the blood stream into the cells to provide energy.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The pancreas cannot produce insulin because the cells that make insulin have been destroyed by the body's own immune system.

What is the cause of type 1 diabetes?

We don't yet know the exact cause of type 1 diabetes, but we do know that some people carry genes which might make them more likely to get type 1 diabetes. We do know that something triggers the immune system to destroy the insulin-making cells in the pancreas. This is called an autoimmune reaction.

How is type 1 diabetes treated?

Insulin must be replaced in order to manage blood glucose levels. This may be in the form of insulin injections or an insulin pump, which delivers a small amount of insulin continuously. Insulin is not a cure but along with physical activity and monitoring, allows those diagnosed, to live life to its max.

Type 1 diabetes statistics

  • There are approximately 130,000 people in Australia living with type 1 diabetes1
  • More than 2,000 people will develop type 1 diabetes per year in Australia1
  • Australia has the 6th highest incidence of type 1 diabetes in the world1
  • Type 1 diabetes makes up for approximately 10-15% of all cases diagnosed with diabetes2
  • $1.6 billion-annual cost to the Australian health system for type 1 diabetes without complications1

1JDRF Australia 2014, About Type 1 Diabetes, viewed 2 October 2014,

2 Diabetes Council Australia 2014, Type 1 Diabetes, viewed 2 October 2014

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"Type 1 Voice exists to improve people's experience of having type 1 diabetes and enabling dignified, happy and healthy living.

This is achieved through collaboration with government and industry as well as raising awareness in the workplace, school and the community."