IDC2022: Dementia and First Nations people

(l-r) Nova Peris OAM, Dr Wendy Hulko (Thompson Rivers University), John Swinton (University of Aberdeen) and Tony Armstrong (ABC presenter and former AFL player)

Olympic athlete and former senator Nova Peris OAM, has used a session at the International Dementia Conference (IDC2022) held in Sydney on September 8 – 9, to share some personal experiences about her 75-year-old uncle Mervyn who is living with dementia.

The panel discussion also featured the ABC’s Tony Armstrong, John Swinton from Aberdeen University and Dr Wendy Hulko from the Thompson Rivers University in Canada, who shared learnings from her experiences and research in working with Canada’s First Nations people on how to provide culturally appropriate care.

“We can’t be culturally safe, without also being trauma-informed”, said Dr Hulko, explaining how in Canada the connection and perception of institutional entities such as residential schools and residential care often re-surfaces and needs to be acknowledged.

A new facility in Nhulunbuy with a ‘bunngul’ (ceremony) ground is opening in the next 4 – 6 weeks, commented Ms Peris, explaining the importance of a ceremony and how the community will conduct this for 3 – 4 days when someone passes, and the significance of historical traditions for First Nations people.

“We need to be aware of the history and the stolen generation – is going back into residential care seen as an institution?” asked Ms Peris.

“Don’t try and re-invent the wheel, look at the work that has already been done in the First Nations space…understand things that can be triggering for our First Nations people”, she added.

The Nhulunbuy facility is the first dedicated aged care facility in the remote town in East Arnhem Land, with plans to also have palliative care and renal dialysis on site.

Community members are currently travelling to Darwin for dialysis.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here