2016 Diversity & Inclusion Awards: Diversity & Inclusion Campaign

Winner: Alzheimer's Australia Vic - Let's Talk About Sex: Relationships and Intimacy as We Age

A conversation about sex and aging was long overdue in Australia and around the world. Working together, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic and COTA Victoria aimed to push this dialogue firmly into the mainstream with the inaugural “Let’s Talk About Sex, Relationships and Intimacy as We Age” conference in Melbourne, Australia. The two organizations developed a program aimed at challenging the assumptions, taboos and stereotypes when it comes to older people and sexual intimacy. Typically, in aged care planning, no provision is generally given for clients to be intimate with their partners and sexual relations are regarded as inappropriate. This failure to acknowledge we continue to be sexual beings as we age has left many deprived of their right to a satisfying and fulfilling sex life. The conference was a unique opportunity to dispel the stigma that exists in the community about sexual needs of older Australians.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic annually supports around 10,000 people through counseling support and programs, educates more than 17,000 health and aged care sector professionals through award-winning courses. The organization also develops resources and policy papers to lead the advocacy for the 97,000 people living with dementia in Victoria. COTA Victoria proudly represents the interests and human rights of older Victorians – advocating for, and inspiring older people to champion the creation of an age-friendly Victoria.

The challenge of the conference was to attract over 150 people to a specifically themed conference in a crowded marketplace for aging seniors and dementia conferences. The comprehensive program for this two-day event aimed to provide a high level of education and discourse. Acclaimed academic and sector leaders from medical and allied health, education, government and aged care organizations were recruited to speak alongside consumers sharing their own experiences.

The partners were able to secure major interviews and coverage in outlets like ABC 7.30, The Guardian Australia, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and other national print, radio and online outlets. Over the two-day conference, a respectful and sometimes fun conversation about sex, aging and dementia was led by more than 200 delegates inspired to take on this challenge in workplaces around Australia.