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“Tackling dementia is our generation's duty”

Health and ageing peak bodies are welcoming the acknowledgement, understanding and commitment of and for dementia in Australia that came from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as he spoke at the New Horizons Conference in Sydney on 21 November.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has publicly shared his stance and made a commitment to dementia in Australia (Source: Shutterstock)
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has publicly shared his stance and made a commitment to dementia in Australia (Source: Shutterstock)

The Opposition Leader made calls for Australia to become a world leader in the way our country cares for people living with dementia, and for Australia to lead in finding a cure.

Mr Shorten also took to Twitter to share his position and commitment to the growing health issue saying that “tackling dementia is our generation’s duty” and that it is “the defining health care and aged care challenge of the next 20 years”.

“The more you see of dementia, the more people you meet, the more it tugs at your heart,” he states.

“The issue of dementia is urgent and we are a bright enough country to do more than we do.”

Dementia Australia is one of the nation's peak bodies who has welcomed the declaration and commitment made by Mr Shorten at the conference.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe, says Mr Shorten has committed to elevating dementia to the health policy priority that is needed to best support the 413,000 people currently living with dementia, and to plan for the future as this figure is projected to grow to more than one million Australians by 2056.

“Dementia is already a National Health Priority Area, but not priority enough,” Ms McCabe emphasises.

“The time to act for dementia is now.

“As the second leading cause of death of Australians - and the leading cause of death of women in Australia - it is essential that dementia becomes a serious focus of all governments.”

Ms McCabe further acknowledges Mr Shorten’s statements of a need for greater focus on how we care for Australians living with dementia, adding that those living with dementia, that we care for today, have made their contribution to the nation and that it is now our turn to look after them.

“It is our responsibility now to show them the dignity and care they deserve so we can work towards building on the better place they have created for us and make Australia even better for future generations,” she says.

Dementia Australia also welcomed the calls for increased focus on not only developing world-leading care, but also training, research, services and programs an “imperative”.

Aged Care Services Australia (ACSA) was also pleased to hear supportive words from Mr Shorten with CEO Pat Sparrow agreeing with the Opposition Leader’s assessment.

“This is an urgent and significant health challenge for our country,” she explains.

“We welcome any funding that flows to those researchers working to find a cure and spare older Australians and their families the [condition] potentially devastating effects.

“As flagged by Bill Shorten, the scale of the challenge suggests that if we are to adequately tackle this problem in the future and ensure that those living with dementia have choice and control over their living circumstances more investment will be required in the aged care workforce and in service delivery.

“Having the workforce and services available when and where older people need them, has to be part of a plan to address future dementia care.”

ACSA has also shared their interest in hearing more details from the Opposition Leader on what policy and investment steps he would take ifm given the privilege of government, he was to enact his vision of Australia as a world leader in dementia care and support.

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