We’re building a dementia-friendly Australia

We’re building a dementia-friendly Australia 

Dementia friendly communitiesA more inclusive and understanding Australia is set to become a reality for people living with dementia as Dementia Australia moves to establish a national Dementia Friendly Communities program.

People with dementia frequently tell us at Dementia Australia that from the time they receive a diagnosis of dementia, they experience stigma and discrimination and social isolation tends to increase as friends and family fall away. Usually because people are unsure of how best to respond to people who are living with the condition.

The good news is, the government has committed to working with Dementia Australia to develop an innovative, consumer-driven dementia-friendly initiative, with a national approach to raising awareness and supporting inclusion of people with dementia. 

Following some rigorous election campaigning in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election, the Turnbull Government has acknowledged that we can all make a difference to the lives of those living with dementia by making our society more dementia-friendly, and have committed to allocating $3.9 million to Dementia Australia to support a dementia-friendly community initiative.  

The aim is to create local programs around the country which will engage existing community resources to raise awareness about dementia within the local community, as well as improve access to opportunities for social engagement for people living with dementia and their carers. 

By creating opportunities for people living with dementia and their carers to remain active, engaged members of their local communities, they will be better supported by the people around them, to remain living independently for as long as possible. In all communities around our country, local community members can play a very important role in supporting people living with dementia. 

As a priority the objectives of the project will be identified by people living with dementia and their carers in a comprehensive consultation process including face-to-face workshops, surveys and the development of an advisory group.

One component will be the development of a National Dementia-Friendly Community Resource Hub which will provide information, resources, best-practice guides as well as opportunities for networking and support for creating local dementia-friendly communities. There will also be a searchable collection of existing national and international resources, and opportunities to showcase existing programs and initiatives.

The second component includes a National Dementia Friends program which will be integrated into the hub and provide information and training for members of the community about dementia. Face-to-face training will be focused in areas where community interest in the approach has already been developed through pilots of dementia-friendly communities.

A small grants program will be made available to support local community initiatives. 

Independent, ongoing evaluation of the program will be important to examine how much awareness and understanding of dementia has improved. The evaluations will identify opportunities for increasing the impact and sustainability of the program.

Dementia Australia is looking forward to creating these first-steps towards a more inclusive and dementia-friendly Australia, breaking down some of the stigma and misunderstanding around dementia and making our societies more dementia-aware.

With this project we will take an active approach to promoting social inclusion for all Australians including those with dementia and their carers.

To progress the Dementia Friendly Communities program Dementia Australia has established a Dementia Friendly Communities Advisory Group which has both people living with dementia and carers to provide input and advice to ensure the project responds to consumer priorities and community need. Members of the Advisory Group will also take part in the project Steering Committee and provide feedback on the strategic direction of the project.

For questions please contact Carol Vickers or 02 6278 8934.