‘We don't have anyone with dementia here’: A case for better intersectoral collaboration for remote Indigenous clients with dementia


  • There are differences of opinion on the appropriate usage of the terms Indigenous and Aboriginal. In general, the term Indigenous is inclusive of all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whereas Aboriginal is often used to refer to regional groups such as those in the Northern Territory. We use the terms interchangeably throughout this paper unless specifically referring to the study participants and their communities in the Northern Territory, in which case the term Aboriginal is used.

Melissa A Lindeman, Centre for Remote Health – Flinders NT, PO Box 4066, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0871, Australia. Email: melissa.lindeman@flinders.edu.au


Objective:  This paper reports on findings related to intersectoral collaboration stemming from an evaluation of a dementia awareness resource for use in remote Aboriginal communities*. The resource includes a DVD in English and three (3) Aboriginal languages of the Northern Territory.

Design:  A qualitative evaluation was conducted in four Northern Territory Aboriginal communities/organisations where the resource had been implemented by external dementia educators. The method included five focus groups with Indigenous aged care workers, community members and aged care service users (n = 26), individual interviews with health care professionals and service coordinators (n = 5), and observation. Data were analysed thematically.

Results:  Specific findings relating to intersectoral collaboration as a key enabling factor of effective dementia awareness and care are discussed in this paper. In addition to context variables such as understaffing and under-resourcing, there might be a lack of knowledge or interest on the part of some health practitioners concerning clients with dementia within remote communities.

Conclusion:  Dementia awareness in remote communities needs to be tackled from a ‘whole system’ perspective and not be the exclusive domain of the aged care services. Strategies that increase the critical mass of informed caregivers as well as health professionals will contribute to better services.