University of Western Australia: Boost for brain health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

The growing burden of dementia among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be addressed by a new research centre that will include researchers from The University of Western Australia.

The Federal Government has announced $3 million funding over five years for the Centre for Research Excellence, to be known as OnTRACK, which will look at developing culturally appropriate and effective ways of promoting brain health among Indigenous people.

Based at the University of Melbourne, OnTRACK hopes to play a crucial role in detecting memory and thinking changes in order to prevent dementia, as well as supporting those living with dementia.

The national collaboration is made up of a team of researchers who have already completed landmark research addressing the gaps of dementia prevention and early detection in older Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

UWA Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health’s Director, Professor Dawn Bessarab and her team will lead studies on improving dementia health literacy in the community.

“Research such as this is vital to keeping us at the forefront of discovering solutions for people with memory issues,” Professor Bessarab said.

“Dementia is a complex condition and it’s vital that we address this challenge head on. Work resulting from this collaboration will improve the lives of older Aboriginal people and their families. It is important work.”

Indigenous women

UWA Medical School Dean Dr Brendan McQuillan said recognition and funding for the centre highlighted the quality of researchers in this important field.

“There is a growing burden of dementia among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Dr McQuillan said.

“It is essential that culturally appropriate approaches to the detection, prevention and management of dementia are developed. This Centre will lead research discoveries and assist the translation of emerging interventions to delay or prevent cognitive decline”.