Dunsborough resident Georgia Catoni was diagnosed with type one diabetes in October 2019.
Impacting over 11,000 Western Australians, type one diabetes is not lifestyle-related - it is an autoimmune disease that leaves people dependent on multiple daily injections of insulin, frequent blood glucose checks and strict management of diet and activity.
It is usually diagnosed in childhood, but can strike at any age. When Ms Catoni was diagnosed as an adult, she felt overwhelmed.
"Being diagnosed with a life-changing chronic disease at age 29 was so unexpected that it was almost surreal," she said.
"Type one diabetes affects every hour of every day, and I felt that life was spinning out of control.
"The best way for me to take back control was to embrace my diagnosis by immersing myself into education and connecting with other people with type one."
Ms Catoni saw a need to create a local community for people with type one diabetes in the South West.
"While there is so much support online I really felt that I would benefit from getting to know people around me going through the same experience and figured I wouldn't be the only one," she said.
"There wasn't a local group I could join, so I decided to create one."
Ms Catoni attends the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, a non-profit service in Perth for her diabetes care via telehealth.
She suggested that together they could create a type one diabetes community for people in the South West region.
Family Centre chief executive Bec Johnson said if you lived with a chronic disease like type one diabetes, peer support was just as important as clinical care.
"A localised community gives people with type one in the South West opportunities to exchange knowledge, share experiences, and help each other, both online and face to face," she said.
"Feeling heard and supported can impact people's physical and mental wellbeing in powerful ways.
"Georgia's shown real leadership and we're proud to partner with her to create much-needed support for the people of the South West."
This week, the Type 1 Family Centre Southwest Community was launched as a community on Facebook and its first face-to-face event is planned in early June.
The group can be reached online at facebook.com/groups/T1FCsouthwest/
To connect with the Family Centre in Perth visit type1familycentre.org.au.