Funding boost for Indigenous Australians living with dementia

Monday, 23 April 2018


An esteemed health-behaviour researcher from the University of Newcastle has received more than $3 million in funding from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to improve the outcomes of Indigenous Australians living with dementia.

Laureate Professor Robert Sanson-Fisher

Lead Chief Investigator Laureate Professor Robert Sanson-Fisher, an affiliate of the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI*), will examine the effectiveness and cost efficiency of a community-based approach to increase timely diagnosis of dementia, and the delivery of best practice dementia care.

“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia are undiagnosed, or are not provided with high quality care.

“We will be working with communities in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory to conduct a randomised trial, which will help determine the viability of a new approach to providing care. If found to be effective, this model of care could be adopted by communities across Australia,” Professor Sanson-Fisher said.

The study will also address a variety of healthcare system strategies to improve diagnosis and management at a clinician level, whilst providing individuals and their family with access to a Family Case Manager for a more holistic delivery of health services.

“Our study aims to implement a number of intervention strategies that will be guided by community consultation through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs), including information sessions to increase dementia awareness and health literacy, developing supportive care networks and distributing tailored information resources,” Professor Sanson-Fisher said.

Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Professor Kevin Hall, congratulated Laureate Professor Sanson-Fisher and said this funding will help to drive outcomes in a national health priority area.

“Laureate Professor Sanson-Fisher is a global leader in his field with a well-documented track record of translational research outcomes. This NHMRC funding will enable the broadening of scope for dementia research in Australia, with tangible benefits for Australian communities,” Professor Hall said.

Professor Sanson-Fisher was awarded $3,046,293 million under the NHMRC Targeted Call for Research – Dementia in Indigenous Australians scheme, announced today by Aged Care Minister and Indigenous Health Minister, Mr Ken Wyatt.

The study will be carried out by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Newcastle, HMRI, James Cook University, Menzies School of Health Research, Northern Territory Department of Health, University of Sydney and Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.