Parliament: Parliamentary Initiatives

Motion – Kate Swaffer

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I move:

That this council notes the contribution to dementia awareness of Kate Swaffer and—

  1. Congratulates Kate Swaffer on being named as South Australia’s Australian of the Year;
  2. Recognises Ms Swaffer’s role as chairwoman, chief executive and co-founder of Dementia Alliance International; and
  3. Acknowledges Ms Swaffer’s role as a local, national and international advocate for dementia patients.

I am very pleased to move this motion tonight recognising the great work of Kate Swaffer. Since I first listed this motion on the Notice Paper, I have been very pleased to meet in person many times the South Australian of the Year 2017, who is of course Kate Swaffer. I have continued to be impressed by her knowledge, her advocacy and her passion for the work that she does in this state, in Australia and also internationally as an advocate for better rights and treatment of people with dementia.

Given the hour, I will speak briefly this evening about Ms Swaffer’s achievements and then elaborate on them more extensively when I bring the motion to a vote, which is at this point planned for the end of September. Kate Swaffer was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia, known as semantic dementia, in 2008 at the age of just 49. She has since then been motivated to improve services and outcomes, as well as knowledge about dementia, for the 342,000 Australians currently diagnosed with the disease.

A poet and author and owner of a consumer website, Kate has become a globally recognised advocate for the 47 million people with dementia around the world. With seething honesty, Kate has shared her experience on her daily blog, attracting an audience of 40,000 people every month. She sits on many boards, steering committees and scientific panels, providing a consumer perspective and helping to set research priorities as a person with dementia.

Despite her dementia, Kate has completed a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Science in Dementia Care. The co-founder and chair of Dementia Alliance International, now the peak body for people with dementia, Kate has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and encourage others to live beyond dementia diagnoses.

While each day deals out new challenges, Kate continues the fight to raise awareness and empower others living with dementia. Indeed, you could almost argue that she is a great example of the social model of disability, which, of course, teaches us that involving people living with that diagnosis or condition will always be the best way to get results for people with that condition. So, nothing about us without us. I commend this motion to the chamber. I commend Ms Swaffer for her work and look forward to having more to say about it when I bring this motion to a vote later in the year.