Federal budget update

Dementia Australia welcomed the expansion of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the increased investment in My Aged Care infrastructure and additional aged care places announced in the Australian Federal Budget 2017.

However it was disappointing the budget, announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison, did not include any new or additional funding for dementia to support the 413,1061 people currently living with the condition or the more than 1.2 million people2 involved in their care. 

The Dementia and Aged Care Services fund, which supports the exploration of innovative new service models, is expected to be decreased from $91.39 million in 2016-17 to $76.14 million in 2017-18.  

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said, although this is offset to some degree by a focus on preventive health and other research investment, it may not be enough to ameliorate the impact of dementia in the longer-term. 

The recent NATSEM report The Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056,  commissioned by Dementia Australia, found that if nothing is done to reduce the incidence of dementia the cost will blow out to more than $18 billion by 2025 and more than double to $36 billion in less than 40 years, as the number of people with dementia soars from an estimated 413,000 people in 2017, to 536,000 people by 2025 and a staggering 1.1 million people by 2056.
The NATSEM report found that just a five per cent reduction in the number of people developing dementia over the age of 65 could lead to savings of $5.7 billion from 2016-25, and a staggering $120.4 billion by 2056. 

“A whole-of-community approach to risk reduction, and better co-ordinated care, along with a boost to research, is going to be needed if we are to curb the rise in people living with dementia by 2056,” Ms McCabe said. 

“We remain optimistic that we can continue to work closely with the federal government to ensure the quality of life of all people impacted by dementia is improved through a range of health, disability and aged care measures.” 

Ms McCabe also said that, while people with dementia will always need to be supported by mainstream services, it must be recognised that although dementia is a core part of aged care, it is not enough to rely on the provision of mainstream services to adequately provide for the needs of people with dementia and there must be an approach that combines building capacity in mainstream services to provide quality care for people with dementia, along with the integration of specialist dementia services to support mainstream services where required.

1The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling NATSEM (2016) Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056
2 Dementia Australia, (2011) Pfizer Health Report Issue #45 – Dementia, Pfizer Australia