October saw Dementia Australia celebrate a full year as the national peak body for people of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers.
With a national scope, we have a unique position to be a bigger, stronger, bolder voice for the more than 436,000 Australians living with dementia and the almost 1.5 million people involved in their care. This was further strengthened when we joined forces with the Australian Frontotemporal Dementia Association to start to manage their existing carer support program with a view to expanding nationally.
This year’s Dementia Awareness Month in September was an example of what we can achieve as a national body. During the month thousands of people signed up as Dementia Friends, more than 55 events were held across Australia, and there was significant media coverage. These activities helped raise awareness of this complex and far-reaching condition, the support services which are available, and the work still needed to support people living with dementia, their families and carers.
In the midst of Dementia Awareness Month, the Prime Minister announced the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. We called on our consumers for input into what the Commission should focus on and using this data, Dementia Australia submitted a list of recommendations to the Department of Health. Many of our recommendations have been incorporated into the final Terms of Reference for the Commission. Throughout the Commission process, we will continue to advocate on behalf of our consumers and for all people impacted by dementia.
In October, Dementia Australia released our new five year Strategic Direction and I am pleased we now have a single, shared vision for our organisation. Full details are on our website but in summary, Designing a new future 2018-2023 focuses on the areas our community told us were the areas of greatest need:
- Improving access to timely diagnosis and ongoing support;
- Increasing the quality of dementia care, and
- Reducing discrimination.
As we roll-out our strategy we will continue to collaborate with people living with dementia, their families and carers, and partner with government and other stakeholders, to create significant change – now and into the future.
I am pleased with what we have achieved in our first full year as Dementia Australia and I look forward to many more years ahead as a bold voice for people impacted by dementia. In the meantime, please take time to rest, relax and enjoy the festive season.
Professor Graeme Samuel AC
Chair Dementia Australia