Alzheimer’s Australia NSW is taking steps to address the alarming rates of dementia that exist within Indigenous Australian communities, through the development of a new engagement plan.
According to research conducted by Neuroscience Research Australia, the rate of dementia prevalence amongst Indigenous Australians is three times that of Australia’s non-indigenous population.
Research also suggests that dementia affects Indigenous Australians at an earlier age than the general population, with a relatively larger proportion of Indigenous Australians living with dementia aged between 45 and 69.
In many cases, the high prevalence rates can be put down to a history of disadvantage, dispossession and poor health outcomes, as well as a lack of understanding about dementia, dementia care and risk reduction strategies.
The increased dementia prevalence in Indigenous Australian communities is not represented by the relatively small numbers of Indigenous Australians connecting to dementia services through Alzheimer’s Australia NSW and other organisations.
To address this, the new engagement plan will, over a period of three years, aim to increase dementia education and access to services amongst Indigenous Australians through a whole-of-organisation approach, and a number of considerations and actions.
Objectives and activities within the plan include building respect for Indigenous Australian people and culture within Alzheimer’s Australia NSW through cultural awareness training for all staff, as well as ensuring inclusive employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians in the organisation.
The number of Indigenous Australian bodies Alzheimer’s Australia NSW partners with will be increased, and additional engagement with and education amongst Indigenous Australian communities will be prioritised, including the recruitment of culturally appropriate Ambassadors.
Alzheimer’s Australia NSW will also ensure buildings are welcoming to Indigenous Australians through the use of appropriate artwork and flags, and will ensure all informational resources are culturally appropriate and relevant.