Students’ chance to compete in new $7,000 National Dementia Essay Competition

Students’ chance to compete in new $7,000 National Dementia Essay Competition

 Australia’s first National Dementia Essay Competition will be launched in September during Dementia Awareness Month, with more than $7,000 in prizes on offer, to encourage more university students to consider dementia care as a career choice. 

The competition is being run by Australia’s Dementia Training Study Centres, with support from Alzheimer’s Australia and the Australian Journal of Dementia Care. UOW leads the dementia training study centres in NSW/ACT. 

In keeping with the theme of this year’s Alzheimer’s Australia’s Dementia Awareness Month – ‘Creating a Dementia-Friendly Nation’ – entrants will be invited to submit an essay explaining how their discipline can contribute to creating a dementia-friendly nation. The goal of this year’s Dementia Awareness Month is to encourage Australians to become dementia-aware, have a better understanding of what it is like for a person to live with dementia, and ultimately be encouraged to create communities where people with dementia are supported to live a high-quality  life with meaning, purpose and value.  

“The aim is to attract interest from students from a wide range of disciplines, as almost every profession has a role to play in creating dementia-friendly communities,” according to NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre Director and AJDC Executive Editor Professor Richard Fleming from UOW. 

CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Carol Bennett, said: “It is great to see organisations and individuals placing an importance on being dementia friendly. We are incredibly excited to be involved in this project, and hope that it sparks conversations on the practical and simple things people can do in their communities to be inclusive of people living with dementia and their families and carers.” 

Professor Fleming said the competition was part of a wider strategy by Australia’s five Dementia Training Study Centres designed to encourage more young professionals to choose dementia care as a career. 

“We need to attract more high-calibre professionals to work in aged care generally and the care of people with dementia in particular,” Professor Fleming said. 

“Many just don’t consider dementia care as a dynamic career. However, those of us who work in this field know that, despite the frustrations, it can be deeply satisfying and provides challenges that take all our professional expertise to solve. 

“One of the reasons so few professionals are choosing the care of people with dementia as a career is that there are limited opportunities for them to become aware of, and think about, the opportunities during their undergraduate years. 

“We need more bright young minds grappling with the issues surrounding the care of people with dementia. The first step is to get their attention. The DTSCs’ Australian National Dementia Essay Competition is one way to do this,” Professor Fleming said. 

The National Dementia Essay Competition will be open to all second and third year undergraduate students enrolled in an Australian university, including those working in health or aged care. Entry details are available at

Entries will be accepted from 1 September to 30 September 2015, with the winners announced in the February/March 2016 issue of the Australian Journal of Dementia Care  and on the Dementia Training Study Centres’ website at 

Major prizes of $2,000 (first prize), $1,000 (second) and $500 (third) will be awarded to three second-year students and three third-year students. The first 100 people to submit an essay will receive a complimentary one-year subscription to the Australian Journal of Dementia Care and the Schools of the winning students will receive a one-year subscription to the journal. 

Specialist prizes will also be awarded. Organisations or individuals interested in sponsoring one of the specialist prizes can email for more information. 

The competition builds on the existing successful NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centres essay competition for second-year undergraduate students from selected Australian universities, which asks students to explore how they, or their profession, can contribute to the care of people with dementia. 

This essay prize and the new national competition are part of the NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centres’ Scaffolding Project, which began four years ago. 

“The Scaffolding Project is a deliberate attempt to provide undergraduates in health-related disciplines with experiences in the field of dementia care that will encourage them to consider not only what they can offer, but what they can gain, by working in this area,” Professor Fleming said. 

In addition to the essay competitions, the project includes work placements for third year students in a dementia care setting, scholarships for honours degree students intending to research a dementia-related topic, and support for undergraduate architecture and design students to create a building or object that will aid the care or well-being of people with dementia. 

The Dementia Training Study Centres are funded by the Australian Government to strengthen the capacity of the health and aged care sectors to provide appropriate evidence-based prevention and early intervention, assessment, treatment and care for people with dementia. The five centres develop and deliver dementia-specific training resources, events, services and activities in all states, across all care sectors and to all health care disciplines. The centres are in NSW/ACT, led by UOW; Queensland, led by Queensland University of Technology; SA/NT, led by Alzheimer’s Australia SA; Victoria/Tasmania, led by La Trobe University; and WA, led by Curtin University. 

More than 342,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.