In 2011, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Diabetes Centre in Sydney, Australia, joined the voluntary network of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Centres of Education. There are currently eight such centres providing excellent diabetes care and education services in Latin America, Asia (including the Indian sub-continent and China), Europe and now Australia. Central to the aims of the Centres of Education are efforts to increase regional capacity to respond to the diabetes epidemic. Here, Margaret McGill and Stephen Twigg report from the Royal Prince Alfred on work to understand the nature and impact of demographics, specifically in terms of ethnicity, on blood glucose control, complications and diabetes outcomes in general. The lessons learned in this field in Sydney will be translated into effective initiatives to improve equity in access to care and education elsewhere in Australia and abroad.