Studying dementia

Ten locals are broadening their knowledge of dementia through formal learning. The partnership between Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation and University of Tasmania will fund two years’ study for each of the students, including (top, second from left) Leah Quinn, Megan Evans, (front) Cherie Brown, Jess Miles and Jacinta Brown with daughter Maddelyn West, together with (from top) CHAC general manager Tony Smart, project officer Jodi Jones, TAFE instructor Vera Powell, doctor Lyn Goldberg and CHAC CEO Di Baldock. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Learning. Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with University of Tasmania, is taking steps to increase understanding of dementia.

Funding from the federal government’s Dementia and Aged Care Services will enable 10 members of the local community to study a Bachelor of Dementia Care.

The $835,000 grant will allow students to complete the online Dementia Care Program through the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre as well as a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing, Home and Community).

The two year project follows a recently concluded study by doctors Lyn Goldberg, Terry Cox and Ha Hoang alongside the local organisation which gauged the level of dementia knowledge in the local Aboriginal community.

Over the course of the project, students will gain the knowledge to provide dementia care, support and education.

CHAC chief executive officer Di Baldock said the new project will provide the community with a model to further develop care programs.

“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 currently have access to such a program,” she said.

“In the past, Aboriginal people wanting to train up as Aboriginal health workers have had to travel to Victoria to access the training, which then becomes a burden financially . . . We hope the project will also provide a model for collaborative work with other Australian Aboriginal communities.”

Beginning studies at the start of the semester, students are now in the midst of full time study, completing units online with access to a face-to-face assessor weekly.

Dr Goldberg, senior lecturer at the Wicking Centre, said she understands the pressures of studying in a remote area as well as the isolation often felt when studying online.

“This is unique in the sense that students are undertaking vocational studies as well as a university bachelor,” she said.

“There is a need to understand dementia in-depth and be able to provide qualified and effective care within the community.”

As part of the funding, each student will receive a $50,000 bursary to support living expenses and the purchase of a laptop.