Labor’s $25 million dementia announcement

FRIDAY, 17 JUNE 2016

SUBJECT/S: Labor’s $25 million dementia announcement, Labor’s positive plans to improve the lives of those living with dementia, irrigation investment

SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR AGED CARE, SENATOR HELEN POLLEY: I’m very pleased to be here today to announce that a Shorten Labor Government will inject $25 million to assist in making Australia a dementia-friendly nation.

Now dementia in this country is the second leading cause of death and we know that in the coming decades that there is going to be an enormous increase in dementia in our communities. We know that we need to inject money into dementia research, dementia care and into becoming dementia-friendly.

But today we are announcing $25 million to establish dementia-friendly communities so we can assist and support those living with dementia, their families and their carers now.

We’re going to develop in cooperation with Alzheimer’s Australia - who I must credit for the wonderful work they’ve been doing - a national strategy to take to COAG so that we can get all the States and Territories on board which is fantastic news for us living here in Tasmania with our ageing population.

We are investing $10 million to conducting two trials for respite models, to develop the best respite care to support those who provide care to people living with dementia. This is what those living with dementia and their carers have been saying that they need over the last 3 years.

We also will invest in having an innovation hub that will disseminate and share information with our dementia friends around this great country of ours.

I’m very excited about this. We have to see dementia not only as a health issue, but also an economic issue and people living with dementia need to be supported, treated with dignity, respected and they need to have the best possible care.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned dementia-friendly communities. What do they look like?

POLLEY: Dementia-friendly communities are not created with a one size fits all approach. They are about looking at our own communities to see if we need to design buildings, public spaces and public transport to make sure that they are appropriate for those living with dementia. It’s about making sure that those living in the community are made to feel welcome and can remain remain active, mobile, productive and engaged.

We need to make sure there is understanding and empathy within the community and we need people to be well informed and educated. We also need to make sure that our police force, ambulance services and our health services all understand that people living with dementia can and should be able to live safely and securely within their own community.

JOURNALIST: You also mentioned COAG. How likely is it that all the states and territories will get on board?

POLLEY: I am very confident that with us leading the way, that all the states and territories will come on board. This is an issue that is not going away, we are an ageing population, this is a global issue right around the world and there is an opportunity here for Australia to lead the way again in addressing dementia. The outcome for all Australians, both from a health point of view and an economic benefit cannot be underestimated.

JOURNALIST: With an ageing population dementia is obviously on the rise- is that one of the reasons this is possible/needed?

POLLEY: Absolutely. We know that we’re all living longer whilst we can never replace the importance of research and finding a cure, we know that until there is a cure found there is going to be an enormous increase in the prevalence of people living with dementia.

So we need to make sure that we raise awareness and understanding within the community to ensure that people living with dementia, their families and their carers are supported so that they can live the best lives possible. We need to make sure that these people can continue to live in a secure and safe community with dignity and respect. They deserve nothing less.

JOURNALIST: Will Labor contribute any substantial funding towards research?

POLLEY: There has been money announced by the current government for dementia which we supported. What we need to ensure is that we are looking after those living with dementia now. Research is obviously an important factor, but the $25 million we are announcing today is investing in those currently living with dementia, their families and their carers, and making us a dementia-friendly and age-friendly nation.

JOURNALIST: Just on another topic, the federal government, Eric Hutchinson and Jeremy Rockcliff from the state government will be announcing $20 million for further irrigation on the east coast. What is Labor’s stance on irrigation?

POLLEY: Labor has actually led the way when it comes to investing in irrigation and I’m really happy they’ve finally come to the table. At a federal level under the previous Labor Government we invested heavily into irrigation because we understand the value of agriculture, viticulture and the primary industries.… [inaudible].