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Monday, 14 March 2005
Page: 37

Mr KEENAN (2:49 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Ageing. Would the minister advise the House how the government is supporting people living with dementia, and their carers?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Minister for Ageing) —I thank the member for Stirling for his question and acknowledge his deep interest in the issue of aged care in his electorate. Dementia in all its forms is a degenerative condition that affects memory and personality. It can result in not only mental decline but also behavioural decline. It is a very emotional issue for those living with the condition and for their families and their carers.

The risk of dementia increases with age, so, with an ageing population, the prevalence of dementia in our community will increase. That is why the Australian government announced last year that dementia would be an Australian government national health priority. That is why we announced funding of a further $200 million for dementia care and research, in addition to the $2.7 billion that is already invested in support for people with dementia and their families. This $200 million comprises funding for dementia-specific care packages, as well as for further research and awareness through education and training opportunities for police, ambulance workers and other community workers.

This week is Brain Awareness Week. Today I announced a further $750,000 in funding for the Living with Memory Loss program, which already receives $1.5 million. It has already proven to be very successful in giving practical advice and assistance to people living with dementia. Australian researchers have been funded to carry out research, in collaboration with the international research effort, to find a cause and a cure for dementia, but in the meantime the Australian government will continue to provide support and funding for practical outcomes for people with dementia, their carers, their families, service providers and organisations such as Alzheimers Australia, which received $5 million in funding from the Australian government last year to continue their work for people with dementia and their carers.