Kiama Project

An Explanation

Markets at Kiama

Photograph by Di Coghlan

The Dementia Friendly Kiama project is a partnership between Kiama Council, The University of Wollongong, Alzheimer’s Australia and many individuals and organisations that make up the Kiama community; particularly people living with dementia.

The project came about when Kiama Council was approached by Alzheimer’s Australia and the University of Wollongong to participate in a pilot project to test Dementia Friendly Community strategies. These organisations chose Kiama because of the work we’ve already carried out in the Age Friendly space, because we have a reputation for innovation in community services. We have a distinct identity and boundaries; making it easy to conduct evaluative research. The project is really a story about a coalition of people and organisations coming together to help increase the liveability of Kiama for people living with dementia.

Initially, most of the administrative and coordination tasks for the project were carried out by an Alzheimer’s Australia employee, but after a $50 000 grant was secured from the Liveable Communities Competition, a project worker was employed who has been instrumental in resourcing, coordinating and facilitating the various activities of the project.


Image courtesy of

Our goal has been to identify barriers, identify strengths, and to identify strategies to address these barriers and mobilize the strengths that will support PLWD to live a high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value in the Kiama LGA.

The project’s approach is collaborative, driven by People Living With Dementia (PLWD).  It, uses a Participatory Action Research Model, and works within a Community Development Framework to build individual and group skills with the aim of sustainability over the longer term.

The project is structured around two main groups:

  1. the Dementia Friendly Alliance which is a coalition of, people with dementia representatives from local community organisations, representatives from the UOW, Alzheimer’s Australia, Kiama Council, plus other individual residents with an interest in dementia, and some local businesses. This ensures a whole of community approach is achieved.
  2. the Dementia Advisory Group is made up of people with dementia and their care partners or supporters. The Advisory Group’s; role is to ensure that all project work is a priority of PLWD living in our community, and that PLWD are at the heart of the project. The members’ catch phrase is … “Nothing about us without us”.

The innovation in this project has been twofold:

– Firstly the true inclusion of PLWD at all levels of the project from design through to action.

– Secondly the participation of a broad range of people and organisations that have recognised the need for this type of project., These organisations have taken the initiative to self-generate activities and programs that contribute to the overall goal, e.g. Kiama Community College has become the first organisation in Australia to be officially recognised by Alzheimer’s Australia as working towards being dementia friendly., Our local Taxi service has committed to training all their drivers in Dementia Awareness.

This project has certainly been a story about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

To highlight a couple of activities from the Action Plan:

Action plan wording on bullsye


The community education sessions delivered by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW. This has certainly been done before, but not where PLWD have vetted all workshop content before delivery, to make sure the language is positive and empowering and aligns with PLWD’s lived experience, and what they see as priorities. There were many changes made, and to Alzheimer’s Australia NSW’s credit, they took on board all the changes. And of course all sessions have included PLWD who have actively presented and been available for participants to ask questions.

Another highlight has been the intergenerational activity where four Kiama High School students made a short film around living with dementia by filming interviews with some members of our Advisory Group. This was done in partnership with Council’s SENTRAL Youth Services and Kiama High School. The film has already been used in a presentation at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference held in Budapest last month (April 2016), plus we’ve been informed that some educators in TAFE and other institutions plan to use the film in their courses.

We’ve been receiving local, national and international recognition for our approach, primarily because of the genuine involvement of PLWD, whose lived experience of dementia drives the project.

Kiama is the 1st community in Australia to be officially recognised by Alzheimer’s Australia as “Working towards being Dementia Friendly”

“Dementia Alliance International believes the Kiama Dementia Friendly Communities initiative is the gold standard globally, primarily because they have set up, and support a very active Dementia Advisory Group of people with dementia supported by their care partners or significant others, who lead the work.” – Quote from Dementia Friendly Communities – Key principles document published by Alzheimer’s Disease International.

Walk In My Shoes

Recently we had the pleasure of presenting the overview of our Dementia Friendly Kiama project at a conference -“Walk In My Shoes – Carers Conference” on the central coast. The highlight was participating in a forum aimed at initiating a Dementia Friendly central coast.


Disabilty Celebration

Friday December 1st saw the Celebration of three years of the Dementia Friendly Kiama project as well as celebrating the International Day of People with Disability.

Dementia advocates lead disability celebrations

eading dementia advocates and campaigners Sue Pieters-Hawke and Kate Swaffer are
leading local celebrations of International Day of People with Disability (Sunday 3



Join us in Celebrating Community Success by acknowledging:
International day of people with disability, and the success of our internationally awarded Dementia-friendly Kiama Project.

Its now three years since we first formally met and the broad community began to be involved in this project.


Be The Change

Dementia Australia’s First and Alzheimer’s Australia’s last National Conference “Be The Change” begins in Melbourne today (17th October 2017).

The following is a link to my poster presentation  on Developing Dementia Friendly Communities, giving my overview of the Dementia Friendly Kiama project.


Advisory Group Meeting

The next meeting of the DAG will be on Thursday 6th July. We will meet in the RSL rooms (subject to availability) – If we are unable to use this room due to a prior meeting we will meet in the Speak and Easy on Collins Street.


Building A Dementia Friendly World, Kyoto 2017

The Building A Dementia Friendly World symposium was held last week, co-organised by Alzheimer’s Society and the WHO Kobe Centre as part of the ADI2017 conference in Kyoto.  This was one of several pre-conference symposia and a chance to see a broad global representation of Dementia Friendly initiatives.


One Brick At a Time

ADI2017 Symposium:Building A Dementia-Friendly World.

This symposium occurs today 26th April at 13:30 (Japan time) in Kyoto. It is a precursor to the 32nd International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).

The following as a presentation given by Dennis Frost briefly outlining the Dementia Friendly Kiama Project.

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Dementia Awareness Education Day

Dementia Friendly Kiama: March 21st

Want to know more about dementia?

Want to know what you can do to support a friend, colleague or neighbour who has dementia?

Want to know how you can help make Kiama a World Leading Dementia Friendly Community?


Advisory Group Meeting Feb. 2017

The Kiama Dementia Advisory Group will be hold its first formal meeting of the year on Thursday 2nf February at the Council Chambers (probable the RSL meeting room) at 10:30 AM.

Our agenda will include reviewing the current action plan as well as discussing any new ideas that we can take forward.


A New Year

Welcome to the new year. 2017 promises to a productive year and hopefully a good one for us all.

Any ideas and suggestions to advance our project and improve life for us all are welcome. Just e-mail us at


Events Update



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