Date published: 
20 September 2021
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

A new National Centre for Monitoring Dementia is to be established to improve the care for those suffering from the condition along with $25.5 million for new research.

Marking Dementia Australia week, the Morrison Government is providing $13 million in funding to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to establish the National Centre, to routinely monitor dementia care in Australia.

This will help address critical gaps to support national dementia policy and service provision.

A further $25.5 million is also being made available under the Government’s Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care (DAAC) Mission including the release of a comprehensive roadmap and implementation plan to chart the way forward.

The Mission is funded through the Medical Research Future Fund.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said it was a significant step forward.

“The research will improve the quality of life for Australians as they age, reduce stigma associated with dementia and enable better outcomes for older people,” Minister Hunt said. 

The theme for Dementia Action Week is “A little support makes a big difference.”

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said it was a relevant message for all Australians.

“Many people with dementia can continue to live well for many years – but this remains a complex and often misunderstood condition,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Those living with dementia deserve our understanding, love and support. It’s about seeing the person behind the diagnosis – an individual with a life, passions and relationships.”

The week of awareness has also been marked by the release of the Dementia in Australia 2021 Report, a benchmark study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Dementia in Australia 2021 provides comprehensive, timely and accurate data that will inform our continuing work to improve the quality of life for Australians living with dementia – particularly senior Australians.

The report confirms that dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, and the leading cause of death among Australian women.

The DAAC Mission Roadmap is a high-level strategic document that includes the aim, vision, goals and priorities for investment for the $185 million Mission.

The Implementation Plan outlines the priorities for investment, evaluation approaches and measures, supporting activities and collaborative approaches.

The Roadmap and Implementation Plan were developed by the DAAC Mission Expert Advisory Panel, led by the co-chairs, Professor Elizabeth Beattie and Professor Len Gray.

“We know that dementia is now the third leading cause of disease burden in Australia, and that as our population ages, the number of Australians with dementia is projected to more than double by 2058,” Minister Hunt said.

“Lifting the quality of dementia care is one of the key drivers of our $17.7 billion plan to reform aged care, which includes a $229.4 investment in reforms specific to improving the quality of life and care for people living with dementia.”

The Dementia in Australia 2021 report found up to 472,000 Australians are living with the condition and more than half of all people in residential aged care are also affected.

Minister Colbeck, said the report validated the prominence of dementia care in the Government’s aged care reform plan.

“Our vision for quality dementia care in aged care encompasses staff capability, regulation and appropriate design of residential facilities. Dementia research has given us guidelines on dementia friendly design, and as part of our five year plan a new accommodation framework will be implemented from 1 July 2024.”

Dementia Action Week also encourages healthcare professionals to find out how they can make their practice more dementia-friendly.

“The Government’s reform package provides a boost for training in dementia care including for more than 3,000 personal care workers to be trained as dementia leaders in their organisations and training places for an additional 1,000 GPs and GP registrars each year,” Minister Colbeck said.

He said the Dementia in Australia 2021 report also confirmed the trend of more senior Australians choosing to age in their homes, and the corresponding need to support carers.

“We know up to 337,200 Australians are providing care for a person with dementia, and that 1 in 3 of those carers feels worried or depressed due to that role,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Our aged care reform package includes additional support for dementia carers through the National Dementia Support Program, more respite care places and better dementia-specific models of respite care.

“This week is also an opportunity for people to find out some simple things they can do to support a person living with dementia, or a friend or family member who is a carer.”

Dementia Action Week runs from 20‑26 September 2021. People can find out about simple things they can do to help support those living with dementia by visiting the Dementia Action Week page on the Dementia Australia website, www.dementia.org.au