National dementia body, Alzheimer’s Australia, has called on candidates in this year’s federal election to commit to fully funding a National Dementia Strategy.
In a series of tweets over the weekend, the not-for-profit association directly contacted candidates for every lower house seat, highlighting the number of people living with dementia in each electorate.
Spokesperson for Alzheimer’s Australia, Sonia Byrnes, said dementia is a national health priority.
“There are currently 353,800 Australians living with dementia. Without a serious medical breakthrough that number is projected to soar to almost one million by 2050,” she said.
“Alzheimer’s Australia is saying there are this many people in your electorate that need your commitment and support – will you help them?”
In the division of Cunningham, Alzheimer’s Australia tweeted at the candidate for the Greens Cath Blakey, Liberal candidate Michelle Blicavs, and the incumbent Labor MP Sharon Bird.
The tweets drew attention to a statistic showing that 2,608 people are presently living with dementia in the seat of Cunningham.
In calling for a federal focus on dementia, Alzheimer’s Australia cited a 2014 study showing a more than 200% rise in dementia rates across the Illawarra over the next three decades.
“It’s certainly going to pose an enormous challenge, much of which might be alleviated with proper planning and support put in place now.” Ms Byrnes said.
Greens candidate for Cunningham, Cath Blakey, said that heading in to this election, neither the Labor nor Liberal parties have a dementia policy in place.
“It’s really shocking that all levels of government have been reducing funding for this issue,” she said.
“The Greens plan is to commit $40 million per year for dementia research, we’ll be taking that in to the next parliament.”
While Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the Greens commitment, the health association added it would be the first step in a long process.
“A fully-funded national dementia strategy will ensure there are actions and safeguards in place for the coming years regardless of the political climate,” Ms Byrnes said.
After a recent Roy Morgan Poll showed nine out of 10 Australians would support a national strategy for dementia, Alzheimer’s Australia felt it needed to bring it to the attention of politicians.
“For a political candidate it’s a lot of potential votes, we need to remind them of that and keep all sides accountable.” Ms Byrnes said.
“We’re starting a conversation. It’s a conversation that is long-overdue in this country and extends beyond our election ask.”
Alzheimer’s Australia is asking all political parties to commit to:
- $1.3 million to make Australia a more dementia-friendly place for people with dementia
- $15 million per annum for dementia-specific respite services
- $1 million per annum to improve quality of care in aged care – led by consumers