By Anju Kalra
Dementia Support Group for Indian Australians Inc was launched on 27 October 2017 at the Consulate General of India, Sydney premises at 265 Castlereagh Street, Sydney with a Dementia Forum. Consulate General of India, Sydney and Dementia Support Group for Indian Australian Inc in collaboration with Federation of Indian Associations of NSW Inc held this Dementia Forum. The Consul General of India in Sydney, Mr B. Vanlalvawna hosted the event at the Indian Consulate and opened the event with his heart felt speech for need for creating awareness for dementia.
The Hon. David Clarke, Member of the Legislative Council and Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, as a Guest of Honour, in his speech spoke very eloquently about the rising numbers of people living with dementia and need for support for carers; Mrs Reena Jethi Councillor of Hills Shire Council,as a Guest of Honour, in her speech spoke about the much needed support for families caring for their loved ones with dementia. The forum was attended by distinguished VIP guests: Prof Nihal Agar Chairman of Hindu Council of Australia, Ms Mary Karras, Chief Executive officer of Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW (ECC), Board members of ECC,Rob Critchlow, Superintendent, The Hills Local Area Command,other VIP guests, distinguished community leaders, various media partners and community members.
Dementia Support Group for Indian Australians Inc (DSGIA) is the first Dementia Support Group for Indian Australians in Australia. Ms Anju Kalra, Founder and President of Dementia Support Group for Indian Australians, as one of the keynote speakers highlighted that the objectives of DSGIA is to create awareness for dementia and also to build capacity in the Indian community around this disease and to remove the stigma and shame attached with this disease. DSGIA aims to provide support to people living with dementia and their carers by advising them of referral pathways and by working in a collaborative manner with various community groups.Ms Kalra shared her deep passion and commitment of making our communities Dementia friendly. Other speakers at the Dementia Forum were Ms Susan McCarthy, from Dementia Australia and Ms McCarthy presented on Dementia 2017; Ms Cecilia Milani, from Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care, presented on Dementia and the Cultural Barriers; Ms Terrie Leoleos from Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, presented on Speak my Language; Dr Manish Bhutada presented on Oral Challenges and Solutions.
The moderator of the forum was Dr Yadu Singh.
The presentations were followed by robust Panel Discussion on Future Planning for creating awareness for dementia. Panel Members were Ms Anju Kalra, Ms Susan McCarthy, Ms Cecilia Milani,Prof. Nihal Agar- Chairman of Hindu Council of Australia Agar, Mr Zahid Jamil Public Officer of South Asian Muslim Association of Australia, Mrs Harinder Kaur – President of Harmon Foundation; Mr Jay Raman – Vice President of Sri Om Foundation.
The event was attended by over 120 people and had an overwhelming response from the community. The Hon. David Clarke, called Ms Anju Kalra, as Florence Nightingale of Australia for being the pioneer for the Dementia Support Group for Indian Australians.
The Forum was closed by a vote of thanks by Ms Anju Kalra. Ms Kalra thanked, the Consul General of India, Sydney, Mr B.Vanlalvawna, The Hon. David Clarke, Ms Reena Jethi, Ms Mary Karras, all VIP guests, speakers, committee members of DSGIA, media partners and attendees.
(The writer is the Founder and President of Dementia Support Group for Indian Australians Inc.)