A project aiming to make the Kiama municipality more inclusive for people living with dementia has won a national award.
The project took out the National Award for Local Government in the Disability Access and Inclusion category.
Kiama council’s Kiama Dementia Friendly Project will now compete against other category winners for the overall 2016 National Award for Excellence in Local Government, to be announced at the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly Dinner on June 21.
The project commenced in July 2014 when Kiama council was approached by Alzheimer’s Australia and the University of Wollongong to take part in a pilot that would see Kiama work towards being one of Australia’s first Dementia Friendly Communities.
The project is structured around two main groups.
The first is the Dementia Friendly Alliance.
This is a coalition of representatives from local community organisations, people with dementia, representatives from the University of Wollongong, Alzheimer’s Australia and Kiama council, plus other individual residents with an interest in dementia, and some local businesses.
The other is the Dementia Advisory Group, which comprises people with dementia and their carers and supporters.
The group’s role is to ensure all project work is seen as a priority for people living with dementia, and that they are at the heart of the project.
A dementia friendly community is a place where people living with dementia are supported to live a high-quality of life with meaning, purpose and value.
Kiama council’s community and cultural development manager Nick Guggisberg said the people behind the project were proud to be acknowledged in this way.
“This award reflects the proactive involvement of our community and advisory group which has been an integral part of the project from the beginning,’’ Mr Guggisberg said.
“We have people living with dementia at the heart of the project. We do not implement anything that they have not endorsed.”
Mr Guggisberg said the project had been cited internationally at conferences on dementia.
“People have run with this opportunity,” he said.
“The project has had great support from the council, our advisory committee, the University of Wollongong and Alzheimer’s Australia.”