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ROADMAP TO ADDRESS DEMENTIA IN ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMUNITIES

The NHMRC National Institute of Dementia Research has today launched the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation which was developed through extensive community consultation and through the leadership of Dr Kate Smith and Prof Dawn Bessarab the two co-chairs of the Roadmap national working group from The University of Western Australia.

The Roadmap aims to address the challenge of dementia, and improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people currently living with dementia, their families, carers and communities.

It identifies five priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dementia research, which include

health literacy, prevention, risk reduction and diagnosis, access to services and supports, culturally informed services and workforce and end of life care.

The Roadmap was developed through Australia-wide consultation . It included 253 community members across 26 urban, rural and remote communities and was guided by a working group of researchers and health care professionals, who are primarily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.


UWA Professor Dawn Bessarab said Aboriginal elders played an important role in communities and contributed to the wellbeing of people in those communities.

“They are the knowledge holders. If Elders are affected by dementia, the whole community is affected,” Professor Bessarab said.

‘It’s really important to work with the community from the ground up. Adopting these priorities outlined in the roadmap will improve research and health outcomes as well as increase opportunities for early collaboration and ongoing engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders and communities.’

UWA Dr Kate Smith said there was limited research targeting dementia and dementia risk in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples directly, and poor recognition of the health condition within communities.

‘From our community consultations, we heard that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanted more information about what causes dementia and how to prevent it, early warning signs, and how to access quality and culturally-appropriate care,’ she said.

Speaking in Canberra, National Institute of Dementia Research Director Janice Besch said the roadmap was a critically important guide to addressing the high burden of dementia in Indigenous Australians.

‘The Roadmap identifies dementia research priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in urban, regional and remote areas, and guiding principles for culturally-appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dementia research,’ Ms Besch said.

“Dementia is experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at a much higher rate and with an earlier onset than in non-Indigenous Australians.

“The Roadmap’s vision is to achieve these goals through high quality, strengths-based research that values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge systems and community priorities, and recognises the social and cultural determinants of health.”

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Jess Reid (UWA Media and PR Adviser) 08 6488 6876

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