Outstanding ‘Senior Achiever’ award for leading carers’ advocate for people living with dementia

Friday 7 October 2016

Victorian volunteer and carer advocate, Anne Fairhall has been honoured this week by The Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria at the Victorian Senior Achiever Awards, receiving the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria Senior Achiever Award for Significant Contributions to Local Communities and Victoria.

Anne’s husband Geoff developed younger onset frontotemporal dementia 25 years ago at the age of 51 and, 25 years later, is living in residential aged care.

Anne’s passions are advocating to decision-makers, celebrating the retained abilities of people living with dementia rather than disability, promoting positive health attitudes, and making life easier for fellow carers.

Her actions bring to life a belief that older people have a lot to contribute to society and the need to foster a culture of respect for elders.

 “We are so proud that Anne’s contribution to raising awareness about dementia and carers has been acknowledged by receiving this prestigious Victorian Senior Achiever Award,” Leanne Wenig, Acting CEO Alzheimer’s Australia Vic said.

“Informed by her own experience in caring for Geoff, Anne has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about dementia and the impact it has on both the person with the diagnosis and their carers, both personal and professional.

“Through these awards such contributions by seniors all over Victoria are deservedly acknowledged,” Ms Wenig said.

Since 2011 Anne has been actively advocating, including roles on the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic Consumer Advisory Committee; the Alzheimer’s Australia National Dementia Advisory Group; the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services’ Reference Group on Quality in Public Sector Residential Aged Care; at two National Consumer Summits; for Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s publication Changed Conditions Ahead: A dementia and driving guide for families and carers; at the 2015 Let’s Talk About Sex: Relationships and Intimacy As We Age; in The Age and appearing on 774 ABC radio’s Drive program as well as multiple conference media interviews to discuss this delicate issue.

In the past 18 months alone, Anne has spoken in a volunteer capacity at numerous meetings, budget and election briefings convened by Alzheimer’s Australia Vic with State and Federal Members of Parliament to provide a consumer perspective in the organisation’s advocacy efforts to Government, including at Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Dementia meetings.

Despite the challenges she and Geoff face, Anne makes a deliberate effort to advocate for living positively with dementia. She helps people to understand that whilst a dementia diagnosis is a significant challenge, there is a great deal that can be done to help people with all kinds of dementia to continue to live well in their own community with the right support and education.

Anne has taken on this advocacy role whilst continuing to manage the many challenges that come with caring for someone with dementia. She is a compassionate person who is determined to make a positive impact in the world for older people.

“Anne has made an extraordinary contribution towards increased public awareness of dementia.

“By drawing attention to dementia-related issues she has helped shape how State and Federal governments support people living with dementia.

“I wish to thank The Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria and Martin Foley MP, Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing for their acknowledgment of the invaluable contribution of Victorian seniors.” Ms Wenig said.

For more information about volunteering at Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit https://vic.fightdementia.org.au/vic/support-us/volunteer-for-us.

-ENDS-

Notes to media

When writing or talking about dementia, please provide your audience with the number for our free National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 - a telephone information and support service available across Australia.

What is appropriate language for talking about dementia and why do we need it?

The words used to talk about dementia can have a significant impact on how people with dementia are viewed and treated in our community. Please read our Dementia Language Guidelines that have been developed by people living with dementia and carers.

About Alzheimer’s Australia Vic

In Victoria almost 97,000 people are living with dementia. This figure is projected to increase to 386,000 by 2050. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is the charity and peak body representing people, of all ages, with all forms of dementia in Victoria. We provide specialised dementia information, education and support services. Call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/vic

Media contacts:

Christine Bolt 03 9816 5772 / 0400 004 553 / christine.bolt@dementia.org.au

Stephanie Puls 03 9816 5745 / 0427 757 434 / stephanie.puls@dementia.org.au