Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communique

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communique

NATSIDAG national workshop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are affected by dementia at a rate three to five times higher than the general Australian population. Yet, dementia is still largely unrecognised in communities by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and service providers.

Dementia Australia together with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dementia Advisory Group (NATSIDAG) held a national workshop in Melbourne on 19 May 2015 bringing together consumers, service providers, health workers and health professionals to discuss how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia can be better supported.

Workshop participants put forward a number of recommendations detailing risk reduction, accessibility of services and culturally appropriate aged-care options as key priority areas for action.

Dementia Australia’s communique, Continuing the Conversation: Addressing Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, was released following the workshop and outlines four priority areas:

  • Education and awareness of dementia
  • Risk reduction strategies for dementia
  • Accessible services and supports for people with dementia and
  • High-quality and culturally-appropriate residential aged-care options for people with dementia

NATSIDAG national workshop Fred Tanner, Chairperson of Dementia Australia’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dementia Advisory Group (NATSIDAG), said given that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are affected at a higher rate than the general Australian population, it was imperative that we worked towards improving these priority areas.

“In order to achieve this, we need to ensure that information produced and services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are culturally appropriate and easily accessible,” Mr Tanner said.

“This could help to alleviate barriers currently faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families about dementia. We also need to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families and communities in the delivery of appropriate dementia support and aged care services to their own communities.”
 

The communique highlights the challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in responding to dementia, which is exacerbated by the fact that dementia occurs within a unique cultural context, including the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

A number of recommendations are included in the communique, particularly that Dementia Australia should consider joining the National Close the Gap Coalition to help address the social determinants of health and advocate for social change. It also suggests identifying new opportunities to foster safe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country with communities supported to look after community members impacted by dementia.

NATSIDAG national workshop Dementia Australia CEO Carol Bennett said Dementia Australia is committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
 

“Last year we released a resource, Your Story Matters, to enable communities to identify steps they can take to reduce their risk of developing dementia,” Ms Bennett said.

“This is just the first step in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access information about lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their risk of dementia.”
 

Read the full communique here.