The Morrison Government will provide more than $1 million to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia in remote Western Australian communities.

The funding will be provided to Alzheimer’s WA to expand the Building a Better Dementia Response in Indigenous Communities project over the next two years.

“Working to achieve equality of support for people living with dementia, whether they live in cities or isolated communities, is one of our Government’s aged care priorities,” said Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM.

“This funding follows a successful pilot program in the largest remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Western Australia, Bidyadanga, in 2017.

“The project will now expand to six sites located in the Kimberley Central, Kimberley East, Pilbara West, Pilbara East, Midwest Gascoyne, and Goldfields regions.”

With an overarching goal of improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living the dementia, the project aims to:

  • Increase community awareness, and drive acceptance, inclusion and support for community members living with dementia

  • Improve knowledge, confidence and the capacity of community organisations, allied health and aged care professionals to respond to the needs of community members living with dementia

  • Identify gaps in current services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are affected by dementia at a higher rate than other Australians, and awareness of dementia is lower in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than in non-Indigenous communities.

“Dementia presents a challenge to all communities but even more so in remote locations” says Rhonda Parker, Alzheimer’s WA CEO

“The partnership between Alzheimer’s WA and Bidyadanga showed that significant improvements for those living with dementia in remote communities can be made by building dementia understanding and literacy, capacity and supports in the community.”

The project will leverage existing national programs and primary health networks to maximise the impact within local communities.

“As researchers continue to explore the causes and contributing factors behind the higher prevalence of dementia among our people, this important project will help address this awareness gap and lay the foundation for better local support,” said Minister Wyatt.

“In close collaboration with local individuals and groups, it will also help ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia can remain a part of their communities.

“Rather than delivering direct care services, effective and culturally sensitive partnerships will be delivered in close collaboration with local communities and allied health and aged care professionals, through visits to each site up to eight times.”

Consultants will also identify individuals who will receive training, support and mentoring to continue to champion the aims of the project after it ends.

Outcomes and findings from the project will inform future dementia policy.

The Morrison Government provides more than $50 million every year for dementia-specific programs to improve the care and support available for people living with dementia.