Dementia needs should not be funded under mental health budget: Greens

Dementia needs should not be funded under mental health budget: Greens

22 September 2011

Lumping together two of the fastest growing public health issues, dementia and mental illness, under one budget will lead to gaps in services, research and treatment, according to Greens MLC and spokesperson for Mental Health Alison Xamon.

Dementia funding is currently included in the overall state mental health budget.

“We know from the work done by Access Economics and the Productivity Commission that we are facing a virtual epidemic of dementia and I am concerned that this disease could fall off the radar in our already underfunded mental health system.

This is not fair to sufferers of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, nor to those people suffering from other forms of mental illness.

“Dementia sufferers require specialist services, not only aged care services, but psychological and behavioural support and accommodation.

“We need to start treating dementia as the chronic illness it is rather than treating it as if it is a natural part of getting older, which gives us an excuse not to prioritise research into preventing and treating this disease.

“The Federal and State governments need to stop deprioritising this issue and develop a strategy to deal with the expected increase in dementia cases before it is too late.

Dementia should receive the attention and funding proportionate to its enormous impact but importantly not at the expense of existing and future mental health services.

“The Barnett/Grylls government passes the buck by seeing the problem as the lack of aged care beds funding from the Commonwealth.

This is only part of the issue, so the State government needs to stop political point-scoring and develop its own plan.

“As has been pointed out by Alzheimer’s Australia, aged care reform will not be successful unless the dementia epidemic is addressed.

A comprehensive strategy to deal with dementia in WA is essential,” Ms Xamon concluded.

Notes for Editors

· There are currently around 23,000 people in Western Australia with some form of dementia.

· An Access Economics report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Australia estimates that WA’s health system will have to cope with 58,000 dementia patients by 2030 and 109,000 by 2050.

· Dementia and Alzheimer’s are claiming more than twice as many Australian lives than they did 10 years ago. The latest Cause of Death report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that these two diseases were the third biggest killers of Australians in 2009.

· 16-26 September is Dementia Awareness Week

Hon Alison Xamon MLC

Member for the East Metropolitan Region

Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051

Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931

Phone: (08) 9272 1718

Fax: (08) 9272 1719

Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering

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