Insulin is a life-sustaining medication, designated an essential drug by the World Health Organization. Although it should be universally available to everyone who requires it for survival, in many countries access to insulin is not secure – resulting in life-threatening complications for large numbers of children and adults with diabetes worldwide. Indeed, most people in most countries of the world who need life-saving insulin cannot obtain it. Insulin for Life is a practical model that works to help fill the gaps by providing life-saving medications such as insulin, test strips and other diabetes supplies. Established in Australia in 1986, Insulin for Life now comprises a global network of affiliate centres and is increasingly focusing on capacity building to ensure the sustainability of this innovative and life-saving initiative.