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On World Alzheimer’s Day Dementia-Friendly Communities Action Plan Announced for New South Wales

Dementia Australia 5 mins read

Dementia Australia with Parliamentary Friends of Dementia Chair Anna Watson MP and Co-Chairs 
Dr Michael Holland MP and Michael Kemp MP announced that New South Wales is one step closer to becoming a more dementia-friendly state. 

The Parliamentary Dementia-Friendly Communities Action Plan, developed in consultation with Dementia Australia Dementia Advocates and Dementia Alliances, has now been finalised and implementation will roll out over the next 18 months.

Championed by the Chair and Co-Chairs, working alongside Dementia Australia, the comprehensive Action Plan details how New South Wales Members of Parliament can lead in making their electorates more dementia-friendly. The ongoing implementation of the Plan will ensure that the needs of people living with dementia, their families and carers remain top-of-mind across the New South Wales Parliamentary community. 

The Action Plan will harness the broad range of information, tools and supports provided by Dementia Australia, empowering New South Wales parliamentarians to advocate for dementia-friendly communities across their electorates and within parliament.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said the Action Plan for New South Wales marks a significant new chapter for the Dementia-Friendly Communities program, which has been raising awareness and fostering support for people living with dementia for almost a decade.

“The focus of the program has been on grass roots community advocacy, actions and activity to help drive awareness of the disease and to work towards reducing the stigma that is sadly still experienced by many people living with dementia.

“The Action Plan represents a new and exciting component in the Dementia-Friendly Communities program, and I am delighted to join with our Parliamentary Friends of Dementia Chair and Co-Chairs to announce this initiative today - which is especially fitting as this is Dementia Action Week 2023 and today is World Alzheimer’s Day.  

“The support of the New South Wales Parliamentary community is invaluable in advocating for people living with dementia, their families and carers. The Action Plan was developed in consultation with people living with the dementia and their family carers, and I wish to thank all of those who assisted to create the Action Plan”. 

Parliamentary Friends of Dementia Chair Anna Watson MP, Member for Shellharbour said “With so many Australians now living with Dementia, it is critical that all NSW Parliamentarians support the Action Plan and raise awareness about dementia in their own communities.

I encourage all Members of the NSW Parliament to promote the fantastic work undertaken by Dementia Australia as they work towards increasing awareness and reducing stigma regarding this increasingly common disease,” Ms Watson said.

Parliamentary Friends of Dementia Co-Chair Dr Michael Holland MP, Member for Bega said “Governments need to help people with dementia or cognitive impairment as well as their carers to remain at home as long as they wish by supporting them at home and in the community. When the time comes to leave their usual place of residence, we need to deal with the anxiety and discomfort caused to them and their carers.”

Parliamentary Friends of Dementia Co-Chair Michael Kemp MP, Member for Oxley said “Dementia is so widespread, the more we can promote awareness, the easier it will be for people living with dementia and carers to cope. Understanding basic behavioural traits and challenges faced by people living with dementia can go a long way to mitigating the impact on the community”. 

The Action Plan is intended as a living document allowing for future opportunities and activities to be included over the course of the implementation. Some key deliverables from the Dementia-Friendly Communities Action Plan for New South Wales include:

  • Members of Parliament and their staff are encouraged to become a Dementia Friend at: www.dementiafriendly.org.au/get-involved/register
  • Dementia Australia to facilitate access to people with a living experience of dementia for inclusion in consultations, advisory committees, and as speakers for parliamentary and electorate events, such as Healthy Ageing Forums and Seniors Expos.
  • Parliamentarians are uniquely placed as a key interface with their communities and will use Dementia-Friendly Communities resources – key messages, videos, presentations when delivering local community speeches and attending events.
  • Members of Parliament are encouraged to host their own community meetings and events using Dementia-Friendly Communities resources, and to invite Dementia Advocates and Dementia Alliances to attend and present, providing a living experience of dementia.

Dementia Australia Dementia Advocate and Vice-Chair of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee Dennis Frost, who is living with dementia, participated in the initial discussions at New South Wales Parliament in 2022, said that he hopes the Action Plan will help achieve several important things.

“To raise community awareness about dementia and contribute to reducing the stigma associated with the disease, and to better inform government policies and legislation on the impacts, both negative and positive, on people living with dementia and contribute to making life better for us all.”
Trish Lorigan who cares for her husband and is from the Ku-ring-gai Dementia Alliance, also contributed to the Action Plan, and said that she hopes the Plan will make a number of difference for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

“I think the difference will be in having a greater knowledge and understanding of the disease and what we suffer so that parliamentarians will be able to walk the journey with us in a much more positive and meaningful way.  

"Dementia is widespread and, on the increase, and affects all members of our communities without discrimination. Every member will have constituents that are affected by dementia”.  
“It can also affect anyone at any time and we never know when it could impact us or our loved ones.”

“Having the Action Plan will require working together and there’s no greater force for positive change than when we share the experience together,” Trish said.

Dementia Action Week runs until Sunday 24 September and is a major leadership, awareness and advocacy campaign led by Dementia Australia as the peak body for people living with dementia, their families and carers. Businesses and local councils can access a digital toolkit full of resources with information on how they can act now to make their organisation more dementia-friendly.

For more information, visit: https://www.dementia.org.au/DementiaActionWeek  

Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.5 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au  

-Ends-

Media contacts: Gabrielle Prabhu, Media & Communications Manager, 0447 253 583 or Gabrielle.Prabhu@dementia.org.au  

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia-Friendly Language Guidelines.

Note to Editors:

We request, where possible, details for the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 appear alongside news stories about dementia, as these stories often prompt questions or concerns:

If this story has prompted any questions or concerns, please call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or visit dementia.org.au. 

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