Advocacy Spotlight: Meet Joanne & Dougal

January 25, 2024

Dougal has been living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) since the age of 4, a journey that began when he complained of sore legs. Despite the absence of any family history of T1D, Joanne (Jo), a health professional and parent, quickly recognised the signs, drawing on her expertise and a colleague’s experience as a T1D parent.

After a period of adjustment, which included seven months of food refusal, the family decided to channel their experiences into advocacy for JDRF. Through this journey, they’ve not only shared their firsthand experiences but also utilised Jo’s professional insights to support others within the T1D community.

Heralding from regional Victoria themselves, Jo and Dougal recognise the isolation that is often felt by individuals with T1D in smaller communities and the family emphasises the importance of ongoing discussions and sharing their unique journey in an effort to combat this. Through their advocacy, they aim to amplify the voices of their community while raising awareness about available options and care for those living with T1D.

We spoke to Joanne and Dougal about their family’s journey with T1D and their amazing work advocating for JDRF.

How did you get involved with JDRF’s advocacy? 

We have been involved with JDRF advocacy since 2018. We met our local MP before attending the Kids In The House event that year. We had already been on our T1D journey since 2015 and felt it was a time that we could use our experience personally and professionally to help make a difference to those living with T1D.

What drives you to advocate for people living with T1D?

Our own experience helps us to advocate and speak up about living with T1D. We have been fortunate enough to access advancing technology throughout our journey and appreciate the positives that it has given us. We don’t like that people should be affected by barriers such as age, financial status, literacy, and access to quality health care.

Why is the Clinical Research Network (CRN) so important to you?

The Clinical Research Network is important to us as we all know “research holds the key”. While there is continued investment in research there is hope that one day, we will live life free of T1D.

What excites you about CRN research?

We are continually excited by hearing research advancements. Even when they are not directly linked to our personal situation, what’s most important is the continued learning going into the research. With this expected cumulative growth, it gives us hope that one day the elusive cure that’s always spoken about will be here!

What has been a highlight for you as a JDRF advocate?

There’s been a few highlights over the years during our involvement with our JDRF advocacy. Our family tend to advocate as a team so our highlights have been varied. They include Kids in the House, Government House visit, access to CGM technology and being involved at the back end of research. It’s been nice to meet up with others along the way at these events and continue to share our journey together.


We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Joanne and Dougal for their incredible dedication to T1D and the community. Their unwavering support and tireless advocacy efforts make a significant impact for clinical research. Check out our most recent CRN-funded research news here

Learn more about JDRF Australia’s advocacy program.