500 people marched for $500 million to Fight Dementia
14 October, 2011
• More than 500 dementia activists from around the country marched on Parliament House yesterday
• New report released reveals looming dementia epidemic set to increase by nearly 50 per cent in 10 years
• Dementia one of the fastest growing chronic diseases
• $500 million needed over 5 years to address key priorities
Dementia activists from Victoria joined more than 500 people from across the country to march on Parliament House in Canberra yesterday, Thursday 13 October, to demand $500 million over five years to address the dementia epidemic.
Dementia activists heard from Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Glenn Rees; Alzheimer’s Australia National President, Ita Buttrose; Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler; Senator for NSW, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Grierson Co-Convenor of Parliamentary Friends of Dementia who spoke to a crowd of carers, professionals and parliamentary representatives about the need to fund and support dementia.
Kate Swaffer, who lives with dementia, and carer Judy Woolstencroft shared their heartfelt accounts of their experiences with dementia; urging the government to increase the funding for research and services for people of all ages with dementia.
More than 30 Victorian marchers flew up and back yesterday.
Rob of Narre Warren and his wife Carmel McGrath who has dementia, said seeing so many people together and united was inspirational.
"People with dementia and their carers need to know they are not alone.
"Hearing the speakers talk so openly and especially Ita Buttrose, made us feel very proud to be there. Finally we are standing up to the plate, not hiding away in shame. Just being there we felt we played a part in fighting Alzheimer’s for Australia," Mr McGrath said.
Alzheimer’s Australia wants 100,000 people to join the fight with them by signing up at the campaign Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/fightdementia.
After the march Senator Rachel Siewert asked the Fight Dementia marchers’ questions in parliament.
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic Chief Executive Officer Maree McCabe said, "The challenge for Alzheimer’s Australia now is to keep the momentum going through to achieve the result we want in the May 2012 budget."
The action took place as a new report was released to reveal the extent of the looming dementia epidemic, with the number of Australians with dementia expected to increase to a staggering 385,000 people - up by almost 50 per cent - in just 10 years.
The report, Dementia Across Australia 2011-2050, has found that in Victoria the number of people with dementia will soar from 68,397 this year, to 245,813 by 2050.
"The Federal Electorates of Flinders, Corangamite and Lalor are expected to be hardest hit. These three electorates will also rank in the top ten nationally, Ms McCabe said.
"But there are no winners here – every area will be affected.
"Every electorate across Victoria will experience an increase in the number of people with dementia, which is why I am marching on Parliament House in Canberra today."
Alzheimer’s Australia President Ita Buttrose, who led the march, said there will be 75,000 baby boomers with dementia by 2020.
"Dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s disease, will be the third largest source of health and residential care spending by 2030 – it’s one of the fastest growing major disease burdens Australia faces," Ms Buttrose said.
The march came as a response to the government’s recent decision to discontinue the Dementia Initiative.
"These new figures demonstrate the urgency with which Australia must respond. Dementia must be part of aged care reform," Ms Buttrose said.
The new report, Dementia Across Australia: 2011- 2050, released yesterday has found that without a significant medical breakthrough, the number of Australians with dementia is expected to soar from an estimated 267,000 in 2011 to almost one million people by 2050.
In Victoria the Federal electorates of Flinders, Corangamite, Bendigo and Dunkley are in the top 10 federal electorates now for dementia prevalence in Victoria and are expected to remain in the top 10 by 2050 with growth rates of 292 per cent, 315 percent, 272 percent and 255 percent respectively.
The report, prepared for Alzheimer’s Australia by Deloitte Access Economics, highlights that every Federal Electorate will experience an increase in dementia prevalence.
"It is unacceptable that the Federal Government has terminated guaranteed funding for essential dementia programs and support services," Ms McCabe said.
"We demand positive action through a $500 million Dementia Action Plan over five years.
"This will provide funding to promote dementia awareness; achieve timely diagnosis; provide quality dementia care; make Australians aware they may be able to reduce their risk of dementia; and invest in dementia research."
A copy of the report has been given to every Member of Parliament and Senator to ensure they understand what the dementia epidemic means for their constituency.
Ms McCabe said Australia must fight dementia the way it has fought cancer and heart disease.
"A paper prepared by Alzheimer’s Australia on National Strategies to Address Dementia around the world showed there is a growing recognition that dementia can only be beaten through national action," Ms McCabe said.
The march on Parliament House also marked the unveiling of Alzheimer’s Australia’s new branding which aims to better position Alzheimer’s Australia to inform the community about dementia and continue to support the hundreds of thousands affected by dementia.
The work is a result of an 18-month-long partnership with global branding agency, Interbrand.
The Dementia Across Australia report and National Strategies to Address Dementia paper are available at www.alzheimers.org.au.
For more information on the Dementia Action Plan, go to www.alzheimers.org.au.
To learn more about the Fight Dementia campaign visit www.fightdementia.org.au.
‘Like’ the Fight Dementia Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fightdementia
Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information.
National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500 An interpreter service is available www.alzheimers.org.au. The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative.
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