CEO Report

The last two months have been primarily dedicated to dementia campaigning in the lead up to tomorrow’s federal election.

All of Dementia Australia’s organisations and consumers across the country have been tirelessly campaigning, calling on all sides of politics to commit to a fully-funded national dementia strategy which will address all aspects of one of the most significant chronic conditions of our time.

Our unanimous campaign message has been clear. Seven in 10 Australians have been impacted by dementia in some way, yet we still don’t have a fully-funded national dementia strategy to address this national health priority. Dementia is an election priority.Dementia Australia National CEO Carol Bennett

On the eve of the federal election, all the major parties have made significant health policy announcements, so what is the outlook for dementia?

We are encouraged to see commitments from all sides of politics with support from all for dementia friendly communities. Health consistently rates as the number one issue for voters, and according to the National Values Assessment 2016, Australians value caring for the elderly above all.

The Coalition have indicated they will continue to make dementia research a priority aiming to improve diagnosis, treatment and care. They intend to convene a Dementia Care Forum to focus on identifying the projects that could have an immediate impact on improving the lives of those living with dementia, their carers and families.

The Coalition have also committed to $3.9 million to support dementia friendly communities and $7.5 million for specialist dementia care units if re-elected.

We were also pleased to see Federal Attorney-General George Brandis commit $15 million to combat elder abuse by establishing a national elder abuse hotline, training for frontline staff, a study into the prevalence of elder abuse and a national awareness campaign to shift attitudes.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) have pledged to invest significant new money to address three important issues outlined in the Dementia Australia Election Platform: $5 million for a national dementia strategy, $10 million for dementia friendly communities and $10 million for respite care trials in two important sites.

Dementia Australia also welcomed the ALP’s $300 million preventive health policy focussing on tackling chronic diseases by addressing the common modifiable risk factors, including physical inactivity, alcohol and tobacco use, and poor nutrition, which evidence shows are all common risk factors for dementia. This policy is consistent with the call to action from Prevention 1st, an alliance Dementia Australia supports to highlight the need for more action on preventive health.

Additionally, the ALP have committed $35 million to Palliative Care Australia which includes better models of end-of-life care in residential aged care.

The Greens continue to support dementia committing $137 million over four years to improve dementia support across the whole spectrum, including:

  • $4 million for a national dementia strategy
  • $5.2 million for dementia friendly communities
  • $8 million for a risk reduction program to inform Australians about brain health and links between lifestyle factors and dementia risks
  • $6 million to support early diagnosis
  • $20 million for post diagnostic services and support, including expanding the National Dementia Helpline, and services for diverse groups
  • $64 million for a dementia-respite supplement and to develop a consumer initiative to support individuals with dementia navigate the aged care system
  • $20.8 million to improve dementia research

We were also pleased to see the Greens’ support for undertaking a thorough review of the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI).

Whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s federal election, dementia remains everyone’s business. As the second leading cause of death and currently affecting 353,800 Australians, dementia goes beyond politics, and needs bi-partisan support to ensure a long-term funded and nationally consistent plan is implemented.

There is both an economic and social imperative to ensure that the significant investment in dementia care and support leads to better outcomes for people with dementia and their families.

Thank you for your continued support.

Carol Bennett
Dementia Australia