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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9508

Mr ANTHONY SMITH (4:05 PM) —I would like today to congratulate one of my constituents, who has just received a prestigious international healthcare award for the Spark of Life Club Program, which is making significant inroads into the treatment of people with dementia. The Spark of Life approach won the 2009 IAHSA Excellence in Ageing Services Award and was deemed to be a model of innovation and excellence by the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing awards committee.

Dementia Care Australia, based in Mooroolbark, is a small, independent, self-funded information and education organisation founded in 1993 by Jane Verity, who developed the Spark of Life Club Program. Hilary Lee implemented the program in Perth and experienced the spectacular changes brought about by the Spark of Life approach. She has since clinically researched the program. Both Jane and Hilary flew to London to receive the award in front of 700 high-level executives and representatives from the major aged-care organisations worldwide. The award ceremony was followed by a reception at the House of Lords, where they were personally thanked by Baroness Greengross, OBE. As Jane Verity said on receiving the award:

Receiving this award is a great acknowledgement of the significance and uniqueness of this powerful program. I hope this Award will take the Spark of Life to many more facilities in Australia and the international arena, bringing benefits to thousands more people around the world.

All of us here have seen in our families, among our friends and in our communities the traumas that dementia brings to those diagnosed and to their loved ones. I am a supporter of the Spark of Life. I have seen it grow from humble beginnings to, now, an internationally recognised program which is giving hope and life to an area that is so often seen as tragic and the start of a downward spiral to the end of life. The program enriches the lives of everyone involved and will greatly benefit Australians with dementia and their carers. So often we go overseas to find solutions, but here we are fortunate to have one on our very own doorstep. I commend Jane Verity and Dementia Care Australia for all the work that they have done, for their contribution and for the greater good their program will bring to many families in the months and years ahead.