Although emphasis on the prevention of chronic disease is important, governments in Australia need to balance this with continued assistance to the 77% of Australians reported to have at least one long-term medical condition. Self-management support is provided by health care and community services to enhance patients' ability to care for their chronic conditions in a cooperative framework. In Australia, there is a range of self-management support initiatives that have targeted patients (most notably, chronic disease self-management education programs) and health professionals (financial incentives, education and training). To date, there has been little coordination or integration of these self-management initiatives to enhance the patient-health professional clinical encounter. If self-management support is to work, there is a need to better understand the infrastructure, systems and training that are required to engage the key stakeholders - patients, carers, health professionals, and health care organisations. A coordinated approach is required in implementing these elements within existing and new health service models to enhance uptake and sustainability.