Self-management programs are now regarded as important facets in the overall care of people with chronic illnesses. They are seen as producing long-lasting benefits both to participants and to the health system in terms of reduced hospitalisations and reduced lengths of stay, as well as decreasing medication usage. In this article we examine what constitutes self-management and the evidence supporting the views that the benefits are unequivocal. We argue that greater attention to research design is required before the benefits can be assessed. We also argue that greater attention must be paid to access issues for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) and lower socioeconomic status.