Dementia now on the parliamentary agenda!

BREAKING NEWS: The Australian Greens has jumped on the Alzheimer’s Australia support bandwagon, raising the question of dementia funding in parliament this afternoon. [SOUND FILE]

By Yasmin Noone

Only hours after 500 Alzheimer’s Australia supporters marched on Canberra to demand government action to restore dementia as a national priority beyond 2013 and grant the organisation $500 million of funding to the cause over five years, the matter has been raised in parliament.

Australian Greens Spokesperson for Ageing, Senator Rachel Siewert, just asked the question of funding for the Dementia Initiative in parliament, making it an official political matter now.

“I rise to ask about the government’s work on dementia,” the Senator said.

“Dementia is currently the largest single cause of disability in older Australians.

“Over one million Australians are affected by dementia themselves or are caring for a person with dementia.

“It is the third most common cause of death, and will be the third greatest source of health and residential aged care expenditure within 20 years.

“This is a serious issue which our current health, aged and community care systems are ill prepared to face. 

“Considering the importance of ongoing government leadership on dementia care and research, I ask:

1. Why has the government terminated the Dementia Initiative? Are they planing to replace it with equivalent funding programs?

2. What is the government’s response to the notable absence of dementia-related recommendation in the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians report?

3. Does the government plan to direct funds towards dementia education, research and development, risk reduction, early intervention, diagnosis?”

The Senator said she raised the matter in parliament because the government failed to guarantee that equivalent funding will be provided for programs to replace the Dementia Initiative, which is due to end in 2013.

“By terminating the investment in the Dementia Initiative and not guaranteeing replacement funding to at least the same level, the government is reducing our nation’s ability to provide care and assistance for dementia patients and their families,” she said.

“The government is unwilling, or unable to assure dementia patients, their families and their carers this initiative will be replaced with equivalently funded programs.

“Dementia remains the largest single cause of disability in older Australians and is the third largest cause of death. With an ageing population, its impact on our health and care system is expected to rise dramatically in coming decades. Dementia is expected to be the third greatest source of health and residential aged care expenditure within 20 years.

“Without renewed investment, the government will not be unable to provide the level of support needed for community care, training, support programs, research, community grants, risk management and timely diagnosis. It is essential that long-term planning and investment decisions are made now, in order to ensure that we are prepared for the increase in dementia.

“Investment is needed in areas such as early diagnosis and intervention. Early dementia diagnoses allow patients to make important decisions about their treatment and their future. This is a serious issue which our current health, aged and community care systems are ill-prepared to face.”

The Coalition said it welcomed the Alzheimer’s Australia march on Parliament House in Canberra today.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Shadow Minister for Mental Health, said the Gillard government has been remiss in ending funding for the Dementia Initiative – Making Dementia a National Health Priority.

“This Coalition program began in 2005 with $320 million funding over five years and despite this initiative proving invaluable and a government evaluation finding the program a success, the Labor Government decided to terminate the funding,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said.

“There are currently 269,000 people living with Dementia in Australia. By 2031 this number is expected to grow to 465,000 and will reach 980,000 by 2050. Australia’s 1.2 million carers, who provide at home care, save this country $5.5 billion each year.

“The Coalition recognises the debilitating impact this disease has on our community, and the growing challenges it presents. Further to our commitment to reinstate the Dementia Initiative – Making Dementia a National Health Priority, at the last election the Coalition committed to providing an additional $50 million over four years to expand this program to include other chronic neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

“Along with our promise to boost mental health funding, we remain committed to improving the level of resources dedicated to fighting dementia.”

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN to Senator Rachel Siewert raise the termination of the Dementia Initiative in Parliament today:

Rachel Siewert questions Senator Joe Ludwig on termination of Dementia Initiative

Tags: alzheimers-australia, australian-greens, caring-for-older-australians, concetta-fierravanti-wells, dementia, dementia-initiative, dementia-research, fight-dementia, gillard, greens, march-on-parliament-house, parkinsons-disease, senator-rachel-siewert,

2 thoughts on “Dementia now on the parliamentary agenda!

  1. A lack of focus on dementia is not acceptable. Dementia must become a national health priority if there is to be any hope of supporting the huge numbers of people who will need support in the near future.

  2. We need to get the message out there that dementia affects much younger people as well. My dad was showing signs in his fifties. We cared for him at home until he died earlier this year. This is a debilitating disease which is far reaching. Doctors and nurses and other supports such as police need more education – it is not good enough to cut funding – the situation is only going to escalate – residential care in some places is appalling – people are having their human rights violated – they are often locked up , tied up or drugged so badly – animals are treated better! It’s time for bipartisan action now!!!

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