We examined research and implementation activities presented at the Centre for Rheumatic Diseases 2007 Conference and other selected literature to identify common themes and posit some "next steps" required to develop self-management programs in the Australian context. Self-management and self-management support are key aspects of optimal chronic disease care, and are effective if implemented appropriately. Health literacy is the foundation for self-management programs and should be fostered within the whole population. We should invest in research and evaluation of self-management because the evidence base is under-developed and inherently difficult to expand. Because patient, carer, clinician and organisational engagement with self-management and self-management support programs are uneven, we need to prioritise activities designed to engage known hard-to-reach groups. We should strive to improve integration of self-management into clinical, educational and workplace contexts. Education and psychological theories can help guide self-management support.