NeuRA celebrates NAIDOC week
Because of her, we can!
The theme of #NAIDOCWeek is ‘because of her we can’ and this week at NeuRA we’re celebrating the important work done by NeuRA staff to address the rising prevalence of dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
Alison Timbery, Project Assistant, NeuRA
Meet Alison Timbery. Alison is a Bediagal woman who grew up in La Perouse. Alison works as a Project Assistant on the Koori Growing Old Well Study at NeuRA. Alison’s work involves interviewing Aboriginal Elders who are participating in the study and collecting data including DNA samples. She also takes the participants to get their MRI and PET scans. This provides valuable information for the research project. Alison loves interviewing Elders and learning about their stories.
“I had two aunties and an uncle with dementia and my mother was getting dementia before she passed. I hope my work will contribute to finding a cure for dementia to help Aboriginal people age well,” says Alison.
The theme of NAIDOC Week certainly applies to Alison’s role at NeuRA. Because of her, we can find a way to prevent dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Lauren Poulos, Project Coordinator, NeuRA
Meet Lauren Poulos. Lauren is a Biripi woman from NSW. Lauren is a Project Coordinator for NeuRA working on the development of a website Caring for Spirit, which provides resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people learn about dementia and access support.
The Caring for Spirit website is important because dementia is at least three times more prevalent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than the general Australian population and these communities need readily available, culturally-relevant and evidence-based information.
“I’m passionate about my work because I’m Aboriginal and dementia is something that impacts our mob,” says Lauren. “It’s important to educate people about dementia so that they know where they can go and what they can do when they need information.”
The theme of NAIDOC Week also applies to Lauren. Because of her, we can help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access important information about dementia that helps them and their community to age well.
Aunty Margaret Anderson, Project Assistant, NeuRA
Meet Margaret Anderson. Margaret is known as Aunty Margaret in her community and at NeuRA. Aunty Margaret is a Gamilaraay woman and respected Elder who has lived in Campbelltown for many years. Aunty Margaret started working with the Koori Growing Old Well Study and Koori Dementia Care Project at NeuRA in 2012. She says she was recommended for the job by the CEO of Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Darryl Wright because she knew lots of people in the community. She helps people understand how dementia can affect the whole community.
“If one person in the family gets dementia – it can affect the whole family caring for them,” she says. “In the job, I talk to the people who care for people with dementia or are getting dementia and it is hard for them, but I can relate to the experiences they are talking about.”
Margaret’s late husband had dementia and she cared for him, so she understands how important it is to look at the causes and consequences of the disease, which is one of the aims of our work at NeuRA.
Aunty Margaret’s advice for healthy ageing
Aunty Margaret’s advice for her community is to “make sure you get out and about, take care of yourself. Healthy eating is important. Elders need to watch their diet because there is a lot of diabetes in our community – which has taken people too early.”
Margaret says NeuRA is helping people connect to the research being done on dementia. “This means a lot because there was a bit of naivety in the community – there were people thinking dementia didn’t really affect them. But that was mainly not having information on dementia. It meant a lot that the team from NeuRA came out to Tharawal and talked to people about the research and gave the information to the community in person,” she says.
The NAIDOC week theme perfectly describes the valuable role that Aunty Margaret plays. Because of her, we can provide support to people living with dementia in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.