Dementia – national policy context

Page last updated: 05 July 2019

Are you or someone you know living with dementia?

  • MyAgedCare has a range of information to assist people in finding relevant aged care services.
  • Dementia Australia provides information and support to people with dementia and their support network.
  • Dementia In My Family provides age-specific information for young people from pre-school to ages 16+.
  • The Carer Gateway provides information and support to carers. 

What is dementia?

Dementia is not a single, specific disease. It is an umbrella term for a syndrome associated with more than 100 different diseases that are characterised by the impairment of brain functions, including language, memory, perception, personality and cognitive skills. Although the type and severity of symptoms and their pattern of development varies with the type of dementia, onset is usually gradual and the disease is progressive and irreversible.

For more statistics and information see the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Dementia in Australia Report (2012).

National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019

The National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019 was released in 2015, with joint endorsement from the Australian Health Ministers.

The Framework is a guiding document developed by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to create a strategic, collaborative and cost effective response to dementia across Australia. The Framework supports ongoing action in dementia care for governments, service providers, peak bodies and the broader community, to work together to create accessible, seamless pathways to care. It aims to make a positive difference in the lives of people living with dementia, their carers and families throughout the dementia journey.

Redesign of dementia programs to improve support for people living with dementia and their support networks

On 11 September 2014 the Government held a Ministerial Dementia Forum with key stakeholders and experts to discuss strategies to improve dementia care in aged care. Outcomes of this Forum include:

  • A Forum Options Paper was provided with a series of recommendations to Government.
  • In November 2015 Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRTs) were established to support residential aged care providers in addressing the needs of people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
  • In 2015 the Government commissioned an Analysis of existing dementia programs.

On 6 November 2015 a second Ministerial Dementia Forum was held to explore how the Government can support people living with dementia and to discuss the Analysis of Dementia Programmes Report. 

On 25 January 2016, the Government announced significant changes to programs and services to better support people with dementia and their families and carers.

Phase one included establishing a single national provider for Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services (DBMAS) and consolidating the Dementia Training Study Centres and Dementia Care Essentials programs into a nationally consistent Dementia Training Program.

  • On 1 October 2016 the national DBMAS commenced, delivered by Dementia Support Australia.
  • On 1 October 2016 the Dementia Training Program commenced, delivered by Dementia Training Australia.

In phase two of the redesign the Government worked with stakeholders to develop an improved suite of consumer support programs to help care for those with dementia across the life-cycle of the disease.

On 8 December 2016 a Ministerial Dementia Forum was held to discuss the redesign of dementia consumer supports. A report documenting discussions held on the day was used by Government as the basis of the National Dementia Support Program’s redesign. This was supported by broad consultation undertaken in late 2017 for which responses were received from people living with dementia and their carers and families, community organisations, allied and primary health providers, researchers, and aged care providers and workers. The redesigned NDSP will better address the needs of people living with dementia and their families and carers, in line with feedback received through the Ministerial Dementia Forum and the 2017 consultation period; more specific information will be available on this page in early 2019.

In 2016 the Government announced it would establish Specialist Dementia Care Units to care for people exhibiting very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia who are unable to be appropriately cared for by mainstream aged care services. The Specialist Dementia Care Program is being rolled out from 2019.

More information

Contact

For enquiries contact dementia@health.gov.au