By Phoebe Baker

A conference was held in Brisbane after Alzheimer’s Australia president Ita Buttrose criticised the Federal Government for ignoring dementia.

About 270,000 Australians currently live with dementia and another 1,500 are diagnosed weekly.

It is estimated that nearly a million Australians will have dementia by 2050, unless there are significant medical breakthroughs.

Ms Buttrose said the recent federal health and aged-care reforms did not address any of Alzheimer’s Australia’s main concerns in their Budget.

“Alzheimer’s Australia put forward proposals for a comprehensive plan which have not been considered or taken up by the government in any of the review processes over the past two years,” she said.

The federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, said most Australians’ understanding of the condition does not extend much beyond Ruth Cracknell’s comedy role in the ABC TV’s Mother and Son.

“We need to reinforce that dementia is an incredibly serious health condition,” he said.

Mr Butler said he is concerned at the lack of funding for dementia compared with spending on cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions.

Last week, he announced a strategic review of medical research and he hoped that would lead to a reordering of funding priorities.

“Aged care reform is central to the government’s agenda,” he said.

“Aged care nowadays is largely about dementia care.

“An aged care reform response that doesn’t have at its heart a dementia response will not be an aged care response at all.”