Building a dementia-friendly Australia

Media Release

10 October 2016

Building a dementia-friendly Australia

A more inclusive and understanding Australia is set to become a reality for people living with dementia as Alzheimer’s Australia establishes a national Dementia Friendly Communities program.

The Australian Government recently awarded Alzheimer’s Australia $3.9 million (over three years) to develop the Dementia Friendly Communities program, which aims to build understanding, awareness and acceptance of dementia in the community.

Dementia Australia National CEO Maree McCabe said there are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia, about 70% of which are living in the community.

“All communities have the potential to support people living with dementia to maintain independence, dignity a sense of purpose and to live in an environment of their choosing for as long as possible,” Ms McCabe said.

Working directly and collaboratively with people living with dementia and their carers will be central to the quality, design and development of the Dementia Friendly Communities program, which will build on existing pilot and state/territory based dementia friendly community work. Key activities will be to develop:

  • A national Dementia Friends program – offering dementia education sessions to interested members of the public, businesses and other organisations; and
  • A National Dementia Friendly Community Resource Hub – providing information, resources, best-practice guides, opportunities for networking and support for creating local dementia-friendly communities.

World Dementia Council member, University of Wollongong PhD candidate, Dementia Alliance International Chair, CEO and co-founder and Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Advisory Committee chair, Kate Swaffer is living with younger onset dementia and was involved in the Kiama dementia friendly pilot project in NSW, the only Dementia Friendly Community initiative in the world to have been recognised for its work by the World Health Organisation.

“A Dementia Friendly Communities program would have a positive impact on the community and people who are living with dementia within that community. We’ve seen those positive impacts in Kiama, mostly due to the setting up of a Local Dementia Advisory Group made up of people with dementia and their supporters, to fully inform and guide the project,” Ms Swaffer said.

“A person living with dementia is still the same person they were before receiving a diagnosis – and they have a human right, like anyone else with a disability, to continue to live a full-life with as much support as needed to remain as independent as possible.

“We need communities that enable people to live well with dementia, communities that embrace people with dementia, communities that understand and accept the diversity and disabilities of people with dementia, rather than being fearful of us. We need communities and organisations that also fully and equally include people with dementia, in every conversation or activity that is about them. That would be the kind of community we’d all like to live in.”

The Dementia Friendly Communities project aims to fulfil this vision. 

Media enquiries:
Sonia Byrnes | 0407 019 430 | sonia.byrnes@dementia.org.au


Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 353,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.


National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area


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