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.

Venue Assessment Tool


This resource is designed to assess venues and business premises to help make them more dementia assessable. This work is based on the E.A.T (Environmental Assessment Tool) available from Dementia Training Australia

The resource is in two parts –

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Science and Schooners

The following is a ‘practice’ run of a presentation (to be) given at the Uni Bar – The University of Wollongong on May 28th.

I was proud to be invited to do this presentation, but doubly so because my oldest son was able to attend.


Making Sense of Our Senses!

In preparation for our next public Dementia Awareness Presentations At Gerringong Bowling Club we have updated and prepared some short videos on our sensory problems.


Sense of Smell (You smell –



Saturday 8th Sept saw the now annual Bondi-2-Berry bike ride. This year saw over 80 riders undertake the 155km ride. The stop over in Kiama was hosted at Hindmarsh park this year, and despite overcast sky’s the much needed rain held off.


Kiama High School Film

For the last 6 weeks, 4 young women from Kiama High School have been working on a short film project designed to highlight the issue of Dementia and to help raise awareness and understanding of the disease, especially among other young people. 



Dementia Awareness Presentation

On Friday 27th July 2018 the Kiama Dementia Friendly Community project hosted the first of what we hope will be many Dementia Awareness presentations, designed, developed and delivered by the Dementia Advisory Group. or DAGs. Below are the links to “studio”


Dementia Awareness Day

Dementia Friendly Kiama
Dementia Awareness Workshop

  • Our next Dementia Awareness workshop will be held on Friday 27th July 2018 at the Gerroa Fisherman’s Club, beginning at 10 am and going though to 1 pm.


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.


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