The AFR dementia article continues to offend and mislead

This is my fourth blog on the disgraceful AFR debacle, but as they have not yet responded appropriately, I felt like writing about it again. It seems the AFR simply refuses to engage in full and open conversation about their lapse in judgement earlier this year, and have chosen to ignore those of us who have made very valid complaints. Perhaps they hope we will just go away.

However, as we head towards Dementia Awareness Month, it is important the issue of language in the media is raised again, as there will be an onslaught of articles and stories about PEOPLE with dementia during September.

NOW it is the time for RESPECT for people with dementia, including from everyone in the media. I met two delightful journalists in the UK, who were offended that I had mentioned the challenges people with dementia generally have with the media and their use of disrespectful language, and accept there are a few who absolutely are doing the right thing, and also doing their best to change their own industry.  Thanks to @DiverseAlz and others in the media for listening, and more importantly for acting.

After the article in the AFR, which referred to people with dementia as “Mad, bad and dangerous”, a number of colleagues of mine and others were published in the Australian Ageing Agenda today in an article Anger over Fin Review’s ‘feral’ dementia story;

Advocates and care providers are outraged over a newspaper article that labelled seniors experiencing severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”, sparking a new focus on media representations of dementia.

Prominent dementia experts have described as “misleading, offensive” and “scurrilous” the Australian Financial Review article on the government’s Severe Behaviour Response Teams that appeared under the headline ‘Teams to deal with feral patients’.

The article by veteran Fairfax reporter Christopher Jay, which discussed the tender for the teams that will assist with the care of seniors experiencing BPSD, said that aged care providers were “bracing themselves” for a “surge of feral geriatrics with severe and often violent behaviour problems stemming from dementia.”

The article has been met with fierce criticism from consumer groups such as Alzheimer’s Australia, as well as leading dementia advocates and researchers.” Follow here to read the full story.

Professor Wendy Moyle did have part of her Letter to the Editor which she submitted published, in favour of an apology and retraction of the article.

Professor Rhonda Nay asked for the sacking of the journalist and Editor in Chief. After many emails, I have still not had a reply, other than the first, which was obviously copied and pasted to everyone. Disgraceful, shameful, disrespectful, and we won’t go away.

If we referred to homeless people, Indigenous people, even bikies who are into crime, or any other group of PEOPLE as mad, bad and dangerous to know, or as feral, it would be considered reprehensible. It seems, the Australian Financial Review is definitely not interested in the truth, but rather, allowing this example of their own very poor and extremely offensive journalism to continue without question, and without apology.

PEOPLE with deMEntia are not feral, nor mad, bad and dangerous. They are people with a chronic, progressive terminal illness.

Why is it that the AFR have been allowed to get away with such offensive references to PEOPLE with deMEntia?

20 thoughts on “The AFR dementia article continues to offend and mislead

  1. Hi Kate, I tried to view the whole article n the AFR site, but couldn’t, it kept switching to another page and also to the sign up pop-up instead. Perhaps this is their way of preventing anyone else from reading it? Love the idea of a public apology and full page spread! Some PEOPLE with dementia may not know what is being attempted, but your work, and others’ work will not be forgotten. Go Kate! 👍


  2. Has someone been in contact with Media Watch (ABC TV) about it? They might highlight the article, since it’s coming from a supposedly “reputable” publication like AFR. Give them a try….


    • Yes, I did, quite a few times, after your suggestion. They got back to me once, but then stopped replying! Feel free to chase them on this one, as for now, I don’t have the time or energy to do it. xx


  3. Kate, Had not seen this before but it is incomprehensible to me that anyone in this day would refer to persons with dementia that way! They are truly showing their ignorance and insensitivity! If everyone would start treating persons with dementia as the whole, worthwhile people they are with the same feelings and needs as everyone else, the BPSD that they refer to would be a thing of the past! When they are propagating the myths and creating demeaning labels they are definitely showing their ignorance! I think They definitely need to apologize and do a full retraction!


  4. Hi Kate–can we launch a national petition about this through Change.Org? I would favour asking for a public apology, retraction and a full page spread indicating this in a national newspaper.


    • Hi Jane,
      If you want to set it up, I will 10000000% support and promote it!
      It is a PERFECT plan, to start off or precede Dementia Awareness Month, and I LOVE you for thinking of it.
      Let me know…


      • Hi Kate–apologies for delay–I’ve been off sick. Let me look at it and I’ll get back to you. Jane


      • Thanks Jane… and sorry to hear you’ve been unwell. It’s good to have you back, and I’m glad you are well. No rush pn this, but any help you can offer would be wonderful. Kx


      • Hi Kate–all done now– I needed a different photo–but thought it best to get this out.


You are very welcome to respectfully join this global conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.