Author and advocate for those impacted by dementia honoured on Australia Day

Saturday 26 January 2019

Dementia Australia congratulates author and dedicated dementia advocate, Tom Valenta OAM for his inclusion in the Australia Day Honours today receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division.

Mr Valenta has been honoured for his distinguished service to the community through charitable organisations, Dementia Australia*, Cystic Fibrosis Victoria, Task Force Community Agency and Odyssey House Victoria.

Professor Graeme Samuel AC, Chair Dementia Australia said on behalf of all people impacted by dementia I wish to acknowledge Tom for this well-deserved honour.

“I commend his dedication to raising awareness and advocating for people living with a dementia, particularly younger onset dementia, and their families and carers,” Prof Samuel said.

In 2007 Tom Valenta published Remember Me Mrs V: Caring for my wife and others, a tribute to his wife, Marie. Marie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, aged 54.  

“I am humbled by this honour,” Mr Valenta said.

“The writing, advocacy and other work I have done for Dementia Australia has been exceptionally satisfying.

“Having lost my wife Marie to Alzheimer's disease I do not want any of my children or grandchildren to experience any form of dementia.”

Prof Graeme Samuel AC, Chair of Dementia Australia, officially launched the book and shared his own family’s experience with dementia to support Mr Valenta’s project.

Mr Valenta then went on an extensive tour of Victoria, Sydney and Adelaide, raising awareness of dementia and selling the book at some 60 Rotary, Probus and other service club meetings. All the proceeds of the 5,000 books sold to date have been donated to Dementia Australia.

Tom, was recognised as an Honorary Member of Dementia Australia in 2013 and continues in his advocacy role as a public speaker and an active member of various committees and advisory groups.

The book can be purchased through Dementia Australia or for Kindle from Amazon.

Another valuable awareness raising project Mr Valenta produced with Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) titled, A Letter to Marie, can be viewed here https://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/a-diverse-state/digital-stories-of-the-mind-and-body/a-letter-for-marie/

Other publications by Mr Valenta are: Every Precious breath: Inspirational stories about living with Cystic Fibrosis, 2010; How the Light Shine In: 40 years of Task Force Community Agency, 2013; and Voyage of Hope - The History of Odyssey House in Australia, 2017.

Further details about Mr Valenta’s Australia Day award can be found here https://www.gg.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/honours/ad/ad2019/xklw-03mcv/Media%20Notes%20-%20OAM%20(S%20-%20Z).pdf

*Alzheimer’s Australia changed its name to Dementia Australia in October 2017.

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Dementia Australia is the national peak body and charity for people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 436,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. Dementia Australia is the new voice of Alzheimer’s Australia. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500                                                                                                                Interpreter service available                                                                                                                                                (The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)                                                                                                        Dementia is a National Health Priority Area                                                                                www.dementia.org.au

Media contacts: Christine Bolt 0400 004 553 christine.bolt@dementia.org.au

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia Language Guidelines.