Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: With high prevalence of dementia in Australia, Wisconsin companies that provide services and technologies for elder care and dementia care can help meet growing demand.

Along with the U.S., Australia has a high prevalence of dementia, with both countries ranked among the top 20 countries with the highest rates in the world. Dementia has been identified as a national health priority by the Australian government, with the rising rates presenting both social and economic problems.

  • Dementia is now the second leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for approximately 5.4 percent of all male deaths and approximately 10.6 percent of all female deaths each year.
  • In 2016, there were more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia, and this figure is expected to increase over half a million by 2025.
  • The cost of dementia is also rising, with Alzheimer's Australia measuring the current cost of dementia in Australia at $11.3 billion ($14.3 billion Australian), and projecting an 81 percent increase to $20.4 billion ($25.8 billion Australian) by 2036.

Wisconsin companies and research institutions with adaptive technologies that assist people living with dementia at home, as well as service providers and facilities for people with dementia, are in demand in Australia.

The Australian government has been increasing funding for research on new technologies and therapies, and elder care service providers are competing to offer support and service for people living with dementia.

The types of projects attracting funding through the Australian government’s Dementia and Aged Care Services (DACS) Fund include an online simulated training program and innovative trial of “virtual” support for aged care providers, web-based tools for patients in remote areas, a virtual reality driving simulator, apps, assistive technologies, smart home devices and platforms, and a “virtual senior center” to connect isolated seniors. Examples of organizations that have secured DACS funding include:

  • McLean Care, which received $576,000 ($726,000 Australian) funding them to design, build and trial a virtual reality driving simulator that may help people keep their drivers’ licenses longer.
  • The National Aging Research Institute (NARI), which received $1.6 million ($2 million Australian) in grants for three projects, one of which will focus on the development of technology that enables dementia patients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to communicate more easily.

In the private sector, intentions were just announced to build Australia’s first dedicated dementia village in Hobart, Tasmania. Construction on the $20 million ($25 million Australian), specially designed village, named “Korongee,” is expected to commence in early 2018, and will draw on international best practice models to include 15 demographically tailored homes set in a small-town context complete with streets, gardens, a supermarket and other amenities. The project is a partnership between the health sector superannuation fund HESTA, elder care provider Glenview Community Services and Social Ventures Australia.

Wisconsin exporters and research institutions wishing to explore opportunities in the Australian dementia and elder care sectors are encouraged to:

  • consider collaborating with Australian research institutions to share knowledge and tailor innovative solutions and technology to Australian conditions;
  • develop partnerships with leading public and private organizations that have successfully secured DACS funding and have an established industry presence;
  • review publicly available grant opportunities advertised on the Australian Government Department of Health GrantConnect website; and
  • attend industry events, seminars and conferences such as Australian Healthcare Week (21-23 March 2018) to connect with key players and to further understand local market conditions and trends in the Australian health care and elder care sectors.