New resource offers hope to indigenous Australians

THE launch of a new DVD and online resource last Friday offers great hope to indigenous Australians affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Port Macquarie was chosen for the statewide launch of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW’s engagement plan for Aboriginal communities.

The launch coincided with National Reconcilliation Week.

Special guests included the head of Alzheimer’s Australia, John Watkins, Member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, and chairman of Birpai Aboriginal Land Council, Uncle Bill O’Brien.

Guests at the launch were informed of the significance of Professor Tony Broe’s Koori Growing Old Well study.

The preliminary results of Professor Roe’s study were presented at Alzheimer’s Australia’s 15th national conference in Hobart last month.

The study found that the rate of dementia prevalence in Aboriginal Australians is three times that of Australia’s non-indigenous population.

Mr Watkins, the former deputy premier of NSW, referred to this finding as alarming.

“It’s really not good enough, and there is so much more that we can be doing,” Mr Watkins said.

The engagement plan involves building and strengthening positive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In practical terms, this means ensuring that services are relevant and appropriate for indigenous Australians.

A further commitment is to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within Alzheimer’s Australia.

A short film formed another crucial part of the launch.

You’re Not Alone: Discussion Dementia is part six in the Losing the Dreaming series.

The series is available online on YouTube, as well as via DVD.

The latest component features Uncle Bill O’Brien discussing his experience of caring for his mother, who had dementia.

“My mother did suffer,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It’s very important that we get the message out, and show our people how the health industry can help.”

Mr Watkins said that preliminary research had led to the implementation of culturally relevant resources.

“The feedback we’ve been getting is that indigenous Australians are gravitating towards the information that they feel caters to them,” Mr Watkins said.

The location of the launch was also significant.

“It is important for us to hold the launch here in Port Macquarie,” Mr Watkins said.

“This area has a strong elderly community, which is boosted by the involvement of indigenous Australians.”

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