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This NAIDOC Week, Dementia Australia was proud to recognise Dementia Advocate Mark Jenkins, and the many other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live with dementia, care for someone with dementia, or use their voice to advocate on behalf of people with the condition.
Mark Jenkins is an Indigenous man from the Wiradjuri tribe from the southwest inland region of New South Wales. He was born in Petersham, and was raised in the western suburbs of Sydney. Mark lives with younger onset vascular dementia.
An ordained minister, accredited psychotherapist and counsellor, Mark joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a Chaplain. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and it was while in Afghanistan in 2013 that he began developing symptoms of dementia.
Mark and his wife Robyn have a close-knit family and they regularly care for their grandchildren. He loves being in the garden, and is a regular at the gym and local coffee shops. He still volunteers as Chaplain for NSW Ambulance, and is a mentor for others in this role. He is currently also Chaplain for St Marys RSL in western Sydney.
Mark is passionate about advocacy for people living with dementia and recently spoke at New South Wales State Parliament House about the end of life and palliative care for people living with dementia.
“Palliative and end of life care is important for everyone but people with dementia are unique because unlike say a person with cancer, we might have a long time NOT being able to communicate our needs and choices,” he said.
“I am concerned I won’t be able to stay at home and as an indigenous Australian, I get very anxious if I think I might be ‘shut in’.”
For information about the Dementia Advocates program, please visit https://dementia.org.au/about-us/dementia-advocates-program or email [email protected]