Dementia-friendly garden opens for multicultural community in Victoria

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Last month, the Australian-Filipino Community Services opened their new dementia-friendly Reminiscing Garden in Doveton, Victoria.

Developed in collaboration with the Samoan and Tamil communities and assisted by a grant from Dementia Australia, the garden creates a space for culturally and linguistically diverse seniors to celebrate and share memories, and to talk about the challenges of dementia.

It is hoped that this ‘therapeutic garden cafe’ style environment will provide a safe and friendly space to address the stigma, isolation and discrimination experienced by many people living with dementia.

Australian-Filipino Community Services Chaplain Norminda Forteza said the garden is a first for the city of Casey and will be an open space for the public and members of the culturally and linguistically diverse community to come together to tackle stigma around dementia.

“We have an opportunity to gather and continue our support to family and friends impacted by dementia in a fresh and sustainable environment,” Ms Forteza said.

The project engaged people living with dementia and their carers during the planning. People living with dementia, their families and friends are invited to the garden to assist in repotting plants or use the space for reminiscing while surrounded by familiar sights and scents of their favourite plants and flowers.

There are big plans for the Reminiscing Garden over the next several months to mark special events and holidays such as a red-themed Mother's Day in May and ‘Christmas in July’ lunch.

Ms Forteza said the interest in the garden by the local community has been remarkable.

“We are getting busy,” she said.

“After the launch, Samoan seniors have requested a weekly luncheon gathering in the garden. We will exchange taro plants and create perhaps an opportunity for a taro festival. Taro is a root crop that is popular amongst Filipinos and other Asian countries, often used in vegetable dishes and desserts.”

This project received a $15,000 Community Engagement Project grant from Dementia Australia.

Are you interested in what this could look like in your community?

The first step is to become a Dementia Friend. Find out more at dementiafriendly.org.au or call our National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.