Page last updated: 29 November 2016


Dementia: a national health priority area

Dementia is a national health priority area and the Australian Government is committed to making dementia care core business across the aged care system. For more information on National Health Priority Areas go to the AIHW website.

The government is dedicated to supporting the care needs of older people including those with dementia and in 2015-16 the government has budgeted $16 billion for aged care.

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) provides basic maintenance, support and care services for older people who need assistance to keep living independently at home and in their community. More information on the CHSP can be found on the department's website.

People eligible for Home Care Packages may be eligible for the Dementia and Cognition Supplement. More information on Home Care Packages can be found at the My Aged Care website.

In 2015-16, $11 billion has been committed by the government for residential aged care providers to support the needs of clients, including needs associated with dementia. Care funding for residential aged care is allocated via the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI). More information on ACFI can be found on the department’s website.

Complementing the CHSP and Home Care Packages Programme, a range of respite options is available which includes in-home respite, centre-based day respite, overnight or weekend respite, community access respite and consumer-directed respite care. More information on these can be found on respite section of the My Aged Care website.

These programs are supported by the National Framework for Action on Dementia.

Ministerial Dementia Forums

On 6 November 2015, the second Ministerial Dementia Forum was held in Melbourne. A report  is available that documents the proceedings of the day.

The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Assistant Minister for Health, addressed the forum. In order to emphasise that dementia care needs to become core business across the health, aged and disability care systems, the theme of the forum was ‘Dementia Care - Core Business’.

The discussion topics at the forum were:

  • How do we ensure dementia consumers can navigate the interfaces between the health and aged care systems?
  • How could dementia care be improved in the context of the changes to the aged care, particularly the planned empowerment of consumers?
  • In the context of the analysis of dementia programs, what objectives and outcomes would you like to see for the Government’s dementia support programs?

The first Ministerial Dementia Forum, Dementia Care - Core Business for Aged Care was held on 11 September 2014 by the then Assistant Minister for Social Services the Hon Mitch Fifield and the then Minister for Health the Hon Peter Dutton. The purpose of this Forum was to gain feedback from more than 60 key stakeholders and experts regarding higher level strategies to improve the adoption of better practice dementia care in both residential care, and care and support in the home. Participants considered what it means for dementia to be ‘core business’ for all aged care services, whether it be for people with mild dementia living in the community, or for those people who have more complex needs or who suffer from severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

A Forum Options Report was provided by the Forum Working Group to the Government on 31 October 2014, and publicly released on 16 December 2014 following consultation with the Aged Care Sector Committee.

Analysis of dementia programs

The Government has conducted an analysis of existing dementia programs and is committed to fine-tuning them so they are coordinated national, integrated and effective.

Following a competitive process, KPMG was engaged to undertake the analysis. KPMG submitted its final report to Government on 30 September 2015.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, released the analysis report on 5 November 2015.

Redesign of dementia programs to improve support

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

The new national approach to dementia support includes:

  • a single national provider for Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services (DBMAS); and
  • a single national provider to deliver a streamlined Dementia Training Program (DTP), consolidating the Dementia Training Study Centres and Dementia Care Essentials program.

Following an open approach to market, a consortium led by HammondCare has been selected to deliver the DBMAS, and a University of Wollongong-led consortium will deliver the DTP. Both providers will deliver services nationally from 1 October 2016, following a transition period with existing providers.

Consumer Support

As part of the new national approach, the Government will also work with stakeholders to develop an improved suite of consumer support programs to help care for those with dementia across the entire life-cycle of the disease. The redesigned programs will start from mid-2017, and will bring together the National Dementia Support Program and the Service Delivery Pathways Program.

For more information, email

Severe Behaviour Response Teams

Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRTs) are a mobile workforce of clinical experts who provide timely and expert advice to residential aged care providers that request assistance with addressing the needs of people with the most severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. The SBRTs will work closely with the existing Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services (DMBAS) in each state and territory. The selection process for the first phase of the SBRTs grant funding round has been finalised and HammondCare was selected as the national service provider for this program. SBRTs commenced in every state and territory on Monday 2 November.

The DBMAS will remain the first line of advice for service providers dealing with dementia related issues. However, where residents are exhibiting very severe or extreme BPSD, DMAS may now refer them to the SBRTs.

To access SBRTs, referrals must be made via the DBMAS helpline at 1800 699 799 to ensure clients are provided with a seamless service transition. Read more about the referrals process to SBRTs.

SBRTs will operate from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week (including public holidays) and provide the same level of service to all states and territories regardless of the aged care provider location, including contacting the aged care home within 4 business hours and holding a case conference within 48 hours, either face-to-face or via tele-health as appropriate.

The SBRT Information Pack contains further details on the program.

A second phase will see the SBRTs and DBMAS programs integrated from 2016-17.

Dementia and Veterans' Supplements

Approved Providers can apply for the following supplements on top of the basic aged care subsidy for eligible care recipients:

These supplements provide additional funding for the increasing numbers of older Australians with dementia and other conditions, and veterans with service related mental health conditions.

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.

In 2015, there are an estimated 342,800 people living with dementia in Australia. Among Australians aged 65 and over, almost one in ten (nine per cent) have dementia. Among those aged 85 and over, three in ten (30 per cent) have dementia. For more statistics and information see the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Dementia in Australia Report (2012).

The government has committed an additional $200 million to dementia research over five years to ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of international best practice.

More information