DoHA: No cause for concern

The Department says there’s no reason to worry about changes to the way health and medical research is funded. Alzheimer’s Australia are not convinced.

Above: Glenn Rees, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia.

By Yasmin Noone

Concerns over the federal government’s decision to terminate dementia funding in 2013 are unwarranted as the new national health funding pool, which will replace current administrative arrangements, could provide organisations like Alzheimer’s Australia (AA) with more money than ever before.

This is the belief of the Department of Health and Ageing, as it moves forward with plans to consolidate 159 grant programs into 18 new flexible funds programs, cease current dementia-related funding and remove dementia from the ‘National Health Priority’ list in 2013.  

Responding to an enquiry from AAA about the cessation of the Dementia Initiative (see article, ‘Enough is enough’, 16 August), DoHA stated that the new flexible funding programs will benefit – not hinder – everyone working in the sector as it will encourage health and aged care organisations to compete for a larger pool of funds. 

“The establishment of these funds will enable the government to target its efforts and respond more effectively to national health priorities as new risks and emerging challenges, such as dementia, arise,” DoHA said in a statement sent to AAA.  

“…The new fund will also allow organisations such as Alzheimer’s Australia to compete for resources from a larger pool of funds than was available to them under the previous arrangements.”

The soon-to-be established funding pool will be administered by an independent and jointly-governed national funding body distinct from Commonwealth and state departments.

DoHA said the pool, announced in May this year, after an exhaustive Strategic Review of its operations, will streamline and modernise its work by reducing red tape, consolidating programs and investing heavily in IT services to integrate databases and improve corporate processes.

“Implementing a consolidated procurement, funding and capital grants system with a focus on consistency will be of huge benefit for community organisations receiving or seeking funds from the health portfolio. 

“Supported by a significant investment of $92 million through the budget, the department will use over $43 million in capital to improve IT hardware and software, to establish a portfolio-wide shared services centre and streamline funding agreements to reduce red tape for stakeholders.

“No savings are being applied to program funds through the budget and funding recipients will benefit from the streamlined administration being delivered.”

CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glen Rees, has little faith in the explanation provided by DoHA and has “no faith” that the new system will benefit people with dementia, their families and friends, or aged and community care providers. 

Mr Rees wants DoHA to overturn the 2011/12 budget decision to terminate Dementia Initiative funding in two years; to restore dementia as a National Health Priority beyond 2013; and to attract an extra $500 million of federal government dementia-funding over the next five years. 

Around 1,500 people are expected to join the AA march from old to new parliament house on October 13 to demand the restoration of funding. The march will be part AA’s new “Fight Dementia” campaign and action plan. 

For more information about the campaign, click here, email fightdementia@alzheimers.org.au or call 02 6254 4233.

Tags: alzheimers, alzheimers-australia, dementia, doha, funding, research,

1 thought on “DoHA: No cause for concern

  1. Glen Rees is right – we need to make sure that reseearch into dementia is funded in its own right, not competing in a larger pool – there is no question that dementia is going to be one of the most serious conditions facing our community – and the cost is not just to the older person with thier disease, but their families, and those who love and care about them.

    We are failing to recognise the burden of this disease on the whole community. In my own case my mother in law has dementia and we have a 9 year old son, we both work full time, and juggling the visits to my mother in law, our work, supporting my father in law in his transitions brings to life the literal meaning of the ‘sandwich generation’.

    We know what is ahead if we do not invest in treatment and an eventual cure for dementia – so we should make this our number 1 priority – for all our sakes – why is it that we bury our heads in the sand about some of the more terrible aspects of ageing. My theory is because we think if we turn a blind eye it wont happen to us! Think again.

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