Students put best foot forward to help diabetes volunteers take care of their feet

Published 9 August 2018
 Third-year Bachelor of Podiatry student Kesia Ryan Byrnes Third-year Bachelor of Podiatry student Kesia Ryan Byrnes

Southern Cross University allied health students are shining a spotlight on foot health this month, hosting free foot examinations on the Gold Coast for members of the community who have diabetes.

According to Southern Cross University Podiatry lecturer Dr Alex Barwick there are more than 200 identified foot conditions people deal with; and each year there are 10,000 hospitalisations, 1000 deaths and 4400 amputations in Australia as a result of diabetes-related foot complications.

“Most amputations, which occur due to diabetes-related foot complications, are preventable, and there is a push towards preventative strategies such as foot screening and education for these populations,” Dr Barwick said.

Third-year podiatry and pedorthics students from Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus are calling for volunteers with diabetes to sign up for the free foot examination clinic.

“Students will conduct comprehensive assessments of foot conditions with professional supervision from a registered podiatrist at Southern Cross University Health Clinic, and will offer advice on how to lower the risk of foot complications,” Dr Barwick said.

“The students will use standardised foot screening tools to determine whether people have circulation issues, nerve damage or other foot problems as a result of their diabetes that put them at risk of getting foot wounds and infections. This type of screening is recommended annually for anyone with diabetes to prevent more severe complications.”

Southern Cross became the first University in the southern hemisphere in 2009 to offer a Bachelor of Pedorthics; last month the degree received the official first Certificate of Accreditation from the Pedorthic Association of Australia. From 2019 Southern Cross University will offer a four-year Bachelor of Podiatry and Pedorthics double degree.

Third-year Bachelor of Podiatry student Kesia Ryan Byrnes said podiatry and pedorthics students enrolled in the unit Management and Treatment of the High Risk Foot would conduct the diabetes foot examinations at Southern Cross University Health Clinic at the Gold Coast campus in Bilinga.

“This is a win-win for our learning as students to conduct these assessments while also offering free preventive foot screenings for those with diabetes,” she said.

“There is an ongoing government initiative to help people with these chronic illnesses to access assessments and treatment five times a year, so this clinic will be a free added extra for people who want to add to their regular foot care.

“Appointments will take an hour and a half and will involve the foot examination and education, and referrals to relevant practitioners where necessary.”

The clinic will be held every Monday until 3 September from 1pm – 5pm at Southern Cross University Health Clinic on the Gold Coast campus, at Southern Cross Drive, Bilinga.

To register, call Southern Cross University Health Clinic Gold Coast on 07 5589 3252 or email

Ongoing student-led clinics in podiatry, osteopathy and speech pathology are available to the general public for a small fee at the Gold Coast campus.

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288784 or