Dementia awareness

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:31): Twice in two days I agree with the member for Giles. I rise to speak about dementia, a disease that we all hope never crosses our paths. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many of us will have to face dementia or will know someone who will be crippled by dementia at some point in our lives, whether it is a loved one or ourselves who fall victim and are inflicted by this disease.

Dementia is a term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person's functionality. It is characterised by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that affect a person's ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's, as many know, is the most common form of dementia. It is prevalent in our community and it is the second leading cause of death in Australia. In Australia, and very much so in South Australia, we have an ageing population, so we need to ensure that we have services in place to adequately care for anyone who has this illness.

Raising awareness assists to remove stigma and allows people an understanding of what someone is going through after a dementia diagnosis. People with dementia deserve to live with meaning and purpose, and we all have a role to play in ensuring that they do. No matter what stage they are at in their life, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and care. People living with dementia, along with vulnerable elderly people, should not be ostracised and should be part of the community. We were all outraged in this place and across the state by the lack of care at the former Oakden facility, which closed in the dying days of the former Labor government.

Since then, SA Health has been working towards implementing recommendations following the release of the Final Report of the Oakden Report Response Plan Oversight Committee. One of the key recommendations was to include the development of a neurobehavioural unit to provide specialist care for people living with the most extreme behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. I am proud to say that the neurological unit is being built on the former Ward 18 site at the Repat. It is part of the Marshall Liberal government's commitment to reactivating the Repat.

I was very proud to be part of the announcement of works for the construction and redevelopment of the Older Persons Mental Health Service at the Repat and the creation of South Australia's first dementia village. It was great to be at that launch with the Premier, who I know has been a key part of ensuring the reactivation of the Repat strategy.

Of course, the Minister for Health and Wellbeing in the other place, since the time he was a shadow minister and right up until today and I know well into the future, is going to ensure, together with my federal colleague Nicolle Flint, the federal member for Boothby, that the Repat is reactivated. I really must thank the Morrison federal government for providing much of the funding that is being seen and spent at the Repat site. Unfortunately, my other two colleagues who have been critical in supporting the reactivation of the Repat, the member for Elder and the member for Davenport, could not be there on that occasion.

This was the first significant demolition of works at the Repat as the precinct continues to be revitalised, with construction beginning inside the current C Block building. The C Block building will be the permanent base of the Southern Older Persons Mental Health Service community team. This is the first step towards providing the very best older persons mental health and dementia care in South Australia. The community mental health team is currently operating from a temporary location on site, while the first lot of construction works to refurbish and repurpose C Block is underway.

Families with experience of caring for someone living with extreme forms of dementia were consulted about what service should be included. Having people with lived experience participate in what new facilities are going to look like in South Australia is vitally important. The village has been designed to maintain a sense of self, home and community for people living with this terrible condition. There will be flexible spaces that allow families to be together, good connections between indoor and outdoor spaces and the creation of shared space that supports that safe interaction.

Agreement with the preferred private partner for the dementia village is to be finalised by the end of the year. The Marshall Liberal government is putting the best services possible in place for those living with dementia because we know that it is so important. More importantly, it is so important for us and for my community that we continue to reactivate the Repat as we do. It is fantastic to see the Repat being used as a hub for caring for those with dementia in our community.

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