New research to reduce dementia impact on first peoples

The high rate of dementia in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is being targeted through five ground-breaking research projects.


The projects aim to boost dementia prevention, slow its onset and improve the lives of First Peoples living with the condition.


The Australian Government has allocated $14 million through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to tackle the rising incidence of Aboriginal dementia.


Aged Care Minister and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt said, “These projects are an important part of the Turnbull Government’s $200 million Boosting Dementia Research initiative, to fast-track interventions and treatment and keep Australia at the forefront of this critical field.


“Projects like this are fundamental to our commitment to work with First Peoples to Close the Gap in health equality.


“From physical fitness to brain training, we expect this research to generate information that will translate directly into improved health outcomes and a better quality of life for Aboriginal Australians with dementia.


“Our senior First Nations people can experience dementia at more than three times the rate of other Australians, with earlier onset.


“The full extent of dementia among our people is unclear but preliminary data from the Kimberley suggests that one in eight aged 45 years or older may be affected.”


Among the five NHMRC funding recipients is Dr Kate Smith, who will lead a University of Western Australia team looking to better identify and manage dementia risk factors, thanks to a $2.5 million grant.


“This work is crucial because our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders are our living libraries and losing each individual means a precious book of knowledge is lost forever,” said Mr Wyatt.


At present, an estimated 425,000 Australians are living with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this number is expected to increase to more than one million by 2050.


List of grant recipients

Grant recipient

Administering Institution of grant recipient

Application title

Grant amount ($)

CIA - Associate Professor Dina LoGiudice

University of Melbourne

Let’s CHAT: Community Health Approaches to Dementia in Indigenous Communities


CIA - Professor Robert Sanson-Fisher

University of Newcastle

Addressing health and care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia and their communities: A cluster randomised controlled trial


CIA - Doctor Kate Smith

University of Western Australia

Dementia Prevention And Risk Management Program For Aboriginal Australians (DAMPAA)


CIA - Professor Sandra Eades

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

Multifactorial, multidisciplinary nurse led aboriginal dementia prevention through cardio-metabolic risk reduction, behaviour change and other strategies: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial


CIA - Doctor Kylie Radford

University of New South Wales, Neuroscience Research Australia

Our MOB (Mind Our Brain): Dementia prevention across the life course with Aboriginal Australians



See also "Closing the Gap targets: 2017 analysis of progress and key drivers of change".


23 April 2018.