Communications & Media

Aboriginal community members give back through the latest in dementia education

A group of University of Tasmania students are helping change the health of their own North West community one lesson at a time.

The ten students from the Circular Head Aboriginal Community are studying as part of the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre’s online Dementia Care Program, which will see them complete a TAFE Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community) in their own community, over the next two years.

Participant Jess Miles said she had embarked on the Dementia Care Program to be able to assist her community, which over the years had struggled to get the help and support it needed locally.

“Most of our help is outsourced so it will be nice to have trained people in town we can see for assistance,” she said.

Jess is keen to combine her cultural heritage and dementia care training to provide the best community help possible.

“It is important members of our community who have dementia have the support of people with that shared cultural heritage and background, so they know someone is there who understands their thoughts and the way they process things.”

The program was introduced as part of a response to community concerns about the growing impact of dementia on its members.

Research just published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health by Dr Lyn Goldberg and her colleagues, highlights the challenges presented within the community in relation to dementia.

The research found one in every four participants had provided, or were providing care for people living with dementia.

However, three out of four participants also reported limited knowledge about dementia and little confidence in their ability to provide effective care.

The research highlighted the need for “innovative ways to develop a skilled Aboriginal workforce to improve the intergenerational health and wellbeing of the community.”

The project is supported with a Department of Health, Dementia and Aged Care Services grant of close to $835,000, secured by the University’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre (Dr Lyn Goldberg & Andrea Price) and the Centre for Rural Health (Drs Terry Cox, Ha Hoang & Merylin Cross), in partnership with Dianne Baldock, the Chief Executive Officer of the Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation (CHAC).

Wicking Centre Senior Lecturer Dr Lyn Goldberg said the response to the program had been very positive.

“The Circular Head community has been so incredibly welcoming,”   Dr Goldberg said.

“Even after our initial enrolments, there have been other community members who have heard about the project and wanted to be a part of it.”

Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation CEO Di Baldock said she hoped the project would be the next step in further healthcare developments in the community and provide a model for use in other communities.

“We see this project as an important step in developing an Aboriginal Community Health worker program in Circular Head, that hopefully will be available statewide - as Aboriginal people in Tasmania don’t have access to such a program at the moment,” she said.

“We hope the project will also provide a model for collaborative work with other Australian Aboriginal communities.”



Published on: 06 Jul 2018 11:32am