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Plan now to support people living with dementia to participate in the upcoming Voice referendum

With the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament referendum to take place on 14 October, Dementia Australia is calling on people living with dementia, their families and carers to start the conversation now about voting.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said capacity to vote is decision specific.

“It is important that people living with dementia, their families and carers start the conversation now, along with their doctor - if required, to decide together whether they can vote in the referendum, so their status on the electoral roll can be amended, if needed.

“It may be that someone needs support to vote, for example, being reminded to attend their local polling place on the right date or helping them arrange a postal vote or to attend an early voting centre,” Ms McCabe said.

The Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) website contains information about the voting process in simple, clear language to assist people living with dementia, their families and carers. There is also a helpful video on how to enrol and vote on the AEC’s website.

If it is decided that someone is no longer capable of understanding the nature and significance of voting, the appropriate form can be completed and submitted through the Australian Electoral Commission to remove them from the electoral roll. The medical certificate on the form must be completed and signed by a registered medical practitioner.

Dementia Australia is hosting a series of information sessions designed to support people living with dementia and carers to know what to do when it comes to voting. To register, please visit our website.

Dementia Australia Dementia Advocate Gwenda Darling who lives with Behavioural Variant Frontotemporal Dementia said there are a number of ways that polling stations can assist people living with dementia when voting.

“Many people living with a dementia diagnosis continue to lead functional lives contributing to society.

“Clear signage, a small suitably lit accessible area with timely assistance and consideration of noise levels would make a significant difference at polling stations. As would a clear, concise, explanation of what is required to ensure a formal vote and reassurance if a mistake is made a new form to be issued.

“Patience of electoral staff is so important, it would be wonderful to have a staff member offer me a paper and pen and a quiet area if I need it, while reminding me that the issue I am voting on is important for so many including myself,” she said.

Dementia Australia Dementia Advocate Jack Ellis was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2021. Jack says his right to vote is important to him.

“Although dementia has affected some of my skills, I feel confident I understand the process and reason for the referendum, and willingly wish to participate in the process,“ he said.

If someone living with dementia requires assistance at a voting centre or when in contact with the AEC, please call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.

The National Dementia Helpline is a free call and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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