What was the dementia initiative?

Changes in Government Policy

The Dementia Initiative – making Dementia a National Health Priority was implemented in the 2005 Budget with $320 million in funding over 5 years.

At the end of 5 years both major parties supported continuing the Initiative.

The Initiative was a landmark for people living with dementia because it recognised the scale of the problem and its impact on the quality of life of Australians.

The main elements of the Initiative included:

  • High care dementia community packages.
  • Dementia Care Essentials Training at the Certificate level 3.
  • Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services (services that provide advice to those in the community and residential care staff).
  • The National Dementia Support Program managed by Dementia Australia which provides information, counselling and support.
  • Funding for the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres.
  • Community support grants (grants of up to $50,000 to community groups).
  • Funding initiatives such dementia research grants and consultancies on issues such as dementia pathways, primary care and a communications strategy.

Was the Initiative effective?

The Initiative has been independently evaluated and was found to have made a substantial contribution to support people living with dementia and their carers. The Initiative lifted the profile of dementia by making it a National Health Priority and developing a coordinated policy response. Australia was first in the world to make dementia a health priority and gave Australia a chance to be a leader in this field.

The Initiative has not been built upon in any significant way in the last four years and funding has not increased in line with the increasing numbers of people with dementia. Although the Initiative has led to much progress in support for individuals with dementia, it has not addressed important issues such as timely diagnosis of dementia, making hospitals safer places for people with dementia, dementia risk reduction or cutting edge research into the cause of dementia.

Worse still the Government terminated the Dementia Initiative in the 2011/12 Federal Budget.