Bold new research to reduce dementia impact on first peoples

Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt has announced the Australian government has allocated $14 million through the National Health and Medical Research Council to tackle the rising challenge of Aboriginal dementia.

Speaking in Perth, Minister Wyatt revealed the five dementia research projects funded across three states would include; Dementia prevention courses in Aboriginal communities, intensive risk management, and the development of online support tools for decreasing dementia.

“These projects are an important part of the $200 million Boosting Dementia Research Initiative, to fast-track interventions and treatment and keep Australia at the forefront of this critical field,” said Aged Care Minister and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt. 

“Projects like this are fundamental to our commitment to work with First Peoples to Close the Gap in health equality."

“From physical fitness to brain training, we expect this research to generate information that will translate directly into improved health outcomes and a better quality of life for Aboriginal Australians with dementia."

Among the five NHMRC funding recipients is Dr Kate Smith, who will lead a University of Western Australia team looking to better identify and manage dementia risk factors, thanks to a $2.5 million grant.

Dr Smith’s Dementia Prevention and Risk Management Program for Aboriginal Australians (DAMPAA) will run over five years, at sites in Perth and Geraldton. It will work closely with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, targeting at-risk people and trialling the impact of physical activity and a cardiovascular management program on the development of dementia.

Indigenous Australians experience dementia at more than the three times the rate of other Australians, with onset occuring up to ten years earlier. At present, an estimated 425,000 Australians are living with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this number is expected to increase to more than one million by 2050.

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