Dementia must be tackled in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are affected by dementia at a rate 3-5 times higher than the general Australian population and these rates are increasing. Finding better ways to tackle dementia in these communities should be a national priority, according to Carol Bennett, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia.

Fred Tanner, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dementia Advisory Group (NATSIDAG), said: “Dementia frequently leads to isolation and often goes unrecognised by health workers and service providers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also experience barriers in accessing appropriate dementia and aged care services and supports. There is a lack of cultural awareness for staff and service providers and inflexibility in the delivery of services, particularly for people residing in rural and remote areas.” 

Tackling dementia will be the topic of conversation among 50 health and aged care workers and people with dementia from ATSI communities across the country at a workshop today, Continuing the Conversation.

Carol Bennett said: “Alzheimer’s Australia has already committed to ensuring that the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are met in all aspects of service provision, information, support and education.

“Education and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, health workers and service providers will clearly play an important role in raising awareness of dementia and the lifestyle risk factors associated with the disease. This is why this workshop so important.

“Just last year we released a resource, Your Story Matters, to educate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on the steps they can take to reduce their risk of developing dementia. We look forward to rolling out other innovative programs such as this to continue to increase the awareness of dementia. This workshop gives us an opportunity.”

The Continuing the Conversation workshop will be held in Melbourne at the Radisson on Flagstaff.


The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dementia Advisory Group (NATSIDAG) provides Dementia Australia with ongoing consultation and advice to improve services and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.