Tackling dementia in Australia

Posted under Blog on March 25th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

There are around 280,000 people in Australia living with dementia today and this figure is set to increase by almost 50% over the next decade, reaching almost one million by 2050.

Despite this rapid increase, in 2011 the Australian government’s budget allowed no extra funding for people affected by dementia and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Also, the Dementia Initiative – making dementia a national health priority - which in 2005 guaranteed A$320 million in funding over five years - was not renewed, despite major political support.

In response, the charity Alzheimer’s Australia launched the Fight Dementia Campaign in October 2011, claiming that “Australia was the first country to recognise dementia as a health priority and now it is the first to renege.” 

The Fight Dementia Campaign called for an investment of A$500 million over five years to raise awareness of dementia, speed up diagnosis times, improve care and support research into reducing the number of Australians who will develop dementia.

In April 2012, in response to the campaign, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler announced a A$268 million investment over five years to tackle dementia as part of the Living Longer. Living Better care reform plans.

While welcoming the investment, support organization Alzheimer’s Australia, whose President Ita Buttrose was recently named Australian of the Year, has expressed concern that the Government has not made any commitment to increase investment in dementia research. The charity wants the Government to support 150 new researchers and major new dementia research projects “targeted at the most pressing issues facing health and aged care.”

The charity hopes to reduce the number of people living with dementia in 2050 by a third and wants to recruit 10,000 Dementia Champions. They state on their website that: “the more Champions we have, the more likely the government will listen to our ask of an additional investment of A$200 million for dementia research in the 2013-14 Federal Budget.”

There is much support for Alzheimer’s Australia. The Fight Dementia campaign has over 20,000 Likes on Facebook and the charity recently held an event on younger onset dementia, encouraging people to look after their brains and raising awareness of the disease in the media. 

Tags: Alzheimer's, Australia, Julia Gillard



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