Today is a historic one for Australia, and especially for people with dementia living here. It is the first meeting of the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Advisory Committee, being held during Dementia Awareness Month and Week. With permission, I have published this photo, which includes Glenn Rees, and two staff, Samantha and Ellen. One member was not able to attend.
Last year, this initiative, inspired by the Scottish Dementia Working Group, was ruled out as not being possible (?!) by a national consumers group… The other very disappointing meeting outcome around the same time was about recommending a person with dementia to be on the Ministers Dementia Advisory Group, covered here, also ruled out by the same consumers group. And yet, here we are, we managed to find 12 people with dementia out of the 321,000 living in Australia, quite a remarkable achievement it would seem.
For me, this dream has come true, and in terms of big dreams, probably in record time, mostly thanks to Mr Glenn Rees, AM, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, and his brilliant team. I feel excited about the opportunities ahead to re-empower people with dementia, to not only find their voices again, but to impact their own futures and care. This is the third consumers group in the world with a membership of people with dementia, the second one being the European Dementia Working Group which started earlier this year, and is Chaired by a friend called Helga Rohra. This was discussed internationally in April 2012: setting up the EWGPWD.
These are very exciting times as the voices of people with dementia are starting to be heard all around the world. The positive impact on some of the challenges of dementia such as stigma, discrimination, lost employment, isolation and loneliness will be significant, as we will break down the myths within the community about dementia. We will bring a voice into the area of our care and our futures, at long last… Equality at last. We have worked together all morning, and even managed to run on time to the agenda!