Our ambassadors are invaluable educators, advocates and spokespeople for those living with dementia, their families and friends, and those who support them.
Alzheimer's Australia Vic Ambassadors
Lyn Allison; David Astle; Terence Donovan; Amy Jackson; Emma Kealy MP; Sam Mitchell; Anne Phelan OAM; Graeme Samuel AC; Mark Seymour; Nicola Stevens; Denis Walter OAM; Gabrielle Williams MP; Associate Professor Michael Woodward AM; Takaya Honda
Former Senator and Leader of the Australian Democrats
Formerly a teacher, Lyn Allison was elected to the Senate in 1996 and was parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats from 2004 to the end of her term in 2008. Lyn held the aged care portfolio for most of her time in the Senate and handled numerous legislative reforms and campaigns in aged care in that time, including more specialised support for people living with Alzheimer’s. Lyn’s father and mother were both diagnosed with dementia giving her insights into service availability and the issues, particularly for carers. As the party’s national health spokesperson Lyn also initiated and chaired a major Senate inquiry into mental health services in Australia which triggered an additional $4b in funding from Commonwealth and state governments in 2006. Over many years Lyn has been an outspoken campaigner on health, education, greenhouse, nuclear and women’s issues. She was a member of the Alzheimer’s Australia Vic board from 2008 to April 2015.
Author and Broadcaster
David Astle is a full-time word nerd, author and broadcaster. You may recall his face (or loud shirts) from SBS’s Letters and Numbers, where David played the role of dictionary umpire. Every Friday his crosswords appear in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, under the alias of DA, while his Wordplay column runs weekly in Sydney’s Spectrum liftout. David has also written about the joys and treachery of English in such books as Riddledom, Cluetopia plus the memoir-cum-manual, Puzzled. Cluetopia in fact is dedicated to Captain Barry Astle, David’s dad who died in 2013, having suffered frontal lobe dementia for several years. “Part of the struggle for all of us, dad included, was learning to understand precisely what we were tackling. No doubt the more we can share and understand as a village then the less anguish in store for everyone, from carer to the cared.”
Terence Donovan is a British-born Australian actor. He has had major roles in many Australian TV drama series, including Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, Home and Away and Neighbours. Following his time as a regular on Neighbours as Doug Willis from 1990-1994, Terence reprised his role as a guest in 2014. The return of the character Doug gave Terence the opportunity to play a man experiencing the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. “Like most Australians, I have encountered dementia amongst my loved ones,” said Mr Donovan. “I know from experience that a diagnosis can not only impact on the individual but also their families and carers. The importance of this issue became even clearer to me while playing Doug.”
Athlete, W-League Melbourne City FC
Amy Jackson is a mid-fielder in the W-League Melbourne City Football Club. Amy was born and raised in Melbourne but has spent time overseas in recent years including time spent playing in the Netherlands in 2014. She also spent six months in 2013 volunteering with Cricket Fiji working in community development within special schools and promoting female participation in sport. Amy was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Victorian Young Achiever Awards. She has diverse interests which see her working part time as a business analyst and studying an MBA.
Amy’s grandmother died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. She was struck by the impact the disease had on her whole family but especially her mum who was her grandmother’s primary carer. Therefore Amy is particularly passionate about advocating for the needs of carers and spreading awareness about the services available to support people affected by dementia.
Click here to view our announcement of Amy as an ambassador in conjunction with her first event with us, the A Night To Remember 2015 fundraising dinner.
Member for Lowan
Emma has been a Member of Parliament in Victoria since November 2014 when was elected as Member for Lowan. She grew up in Edenhope in a farming family and now resides in Horsham. Emma holds a Degree in Biomedical Science from the University of South Australia. She has worked at senior levels in the health sector including Western District Health Service in Hamilton, and relished her role as Chief Executive of the Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital where she was able to make a positive difference to the lives of people in the region. Emma has been co-convenor of Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s Parliamentary Friends of Dementia group since June 2015.
Australian Rules Footballer, West Coast Eagles Football Club, former player, Hawthorn Football Club.
“Valda passed away before our little girls celebrated their third birthdays. Prior to these events I was naïve to many of the issues surrounding dementia. Everyone deserves to live their life with dignity and raising awareness about dementia is a small way of helping those affected with the illness to be treated with compassion, understanding and care.”
Sam Mitchell joined West Coast Eagles Football Club late in 2016 in readiness for the 2017 AFL season. He played for the Hawthorn Football Club from 2002 - 2016. The club recognised Sam’s leadership skills by making him the team’s Captain from 2008-2010. Sam has also been recognised with a number of other honours including selection in the All Australian side in 2011 and 2013 and the Herald Sun ‘Player of the Year Award’ in 2011. Sam’s mother-in-law, Valda, was diagnosed with younger onset Alzheimer’s around the time he and his wife were due to have twins. Sam, along with Richmond Captain Trent Cotchin, was honoured to be awarded the 2012 Brownlow Medal.
See pictures of Sam at our children’s fun day. Watch Sam's video on our children's website talking about the importance of being part of a team when it comes to caring for a person living with dementia.
Anne Phelan OAM
"Having experienced dementia in my family and through caring for friends I know it is vital to promote a better understanding of dementia in the community. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic supports people living with dementia and the carers, for both, it is important that this service is available."
Anne Phelan is an accomplished Australian actress who has featured in many stage and screen productions. Anne was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2007 for service to the arts as an actress, and to the community, particularly through support for women living with HIV and for asylum seekers and refugees. She has also been awarded two AFI Television Awards.
Graeme Samuel AC
National President Alzheimer's Australia
Graeme Samuel AC (Master of Laws 1977) Is a Vice Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow in Monash University’s Business School and co-director of the Monash Business Policy Forum. He is also Chair of the Victorian Taxi Services Commission, a Commissioner of the National Rugby League, a Councillor of the Australian National University, President of Alzheimer’s Australia, Chair of the South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network and Chair of the Commonwealth Government’s Panel of Review of Australia’s Independent Medical Research Institutes.
He was President of the National Competition Council (1997 – 2003), Chairman of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (2003 – 2011) and an Associate Member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (2007 – 2011).
He was awarded an Australian Sports Medal for services to sport, and a Centenary Medal in recognition of his service as president of the National Competition Council.He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1998. In 2010 he was elevated to a Companion of the Order of Australia "for eminent service to public administration through contributions in the area of economic reform and competition law, and to the community through leadership roles with sporting and cultural organisations.
"I am passionate about sharing my personal experience to help others to realise they are not alone. Support and information is available through Alzheimer’s Australia Vic and I encourage anyone with concerns for themselves or someone special to them to contact the organisation. As it is for all chronic diseases, accessing information, medical and counselling support early in your experience will improve the quality of life and care for the person living with dementia, their families and carers."
Best known for his role as front man of band Hunters and Collectors, Mark Seymour is a musician and vocalist now enjoying success as a solo artist. Mark won an ARIA award for Best Adult Contemporary Album in 2001. Mark has written a song about his mother Paula’s experience with dementia.
Australian Rules Football Player, Collingwood Women's Football Club
Denis Walter OAM
Performer and broadcaster, 3AW Afternoons Presenter
Denis Walter is an Australian radio presenter, singer, recording artist and media personality. Walter spent many years presenting the weather on Nine News in Melbourne and reading the new on WIN TV Victoria. He was awarded an OAM in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Since November 2008 he has been hosting the afternoon shift on radio 3AW. Denis is an accomplished singer, recording 16 albums in his career and performing regularly including on the annual Carols By Candlelight. "It is imperative that awareness of the disease is raised in the community. Dementia can not only affect the elderly, it can also strike the young. As the people with dementia are affected, so are their loved ones and family. It's critical we fund vital research for a cure, but we also need to raise awareness about this life limiting disease, ensuring a growing number of Australians with the illness, and their families, receive the best possible treatment and support."
Parliamentary Secretary Industry, Employment and Volunteers, Member for Dandenong
Gabrielle was elected as the Member for Dandenong at the 2014 Victorian election and in December 2014 and is the Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Employment and Volunteers. Gabrielle completed a BA/LLB (Hons) at Monash University, going on to practice as a solicitor in a large Melbourne law firm. She has also worked as an adviser in both state and federal government, and served as a director of a not-for-profit disability sport organisation. Most recently Gabrielle worked as Project Manager in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at The University of Melbourne. Gabrielle has been co-convenor of Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s Parliamentary Friends of Dementia group since June 2015.
Associate Professor Michael Woodward AM
Chief Medical Advisor Alzheimer's Australia Vic
Michael currently holds 7 hospital and regional clinical appointments, including the Head of Aged & Residential Care Services (Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Austin Health- to Oct 2012), Director, Memory Clinic (Austin Health) and Director, Wound Management Clinic (Austin Health). His areas of clinical specialties are Geriatric Medicine, General Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine, with several subspecialty interests, including Alzheimer’s disease, therapeutics, vaccination and wound management.
Michael is the immediate past President of the Australia Wound Management Association and until recently chaired the Australasian Consortium of Centres for Clinical Cognitive Research, which represents all the major centres in this region conducting dementia therapeutic research. He was also Chair for 6 years of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians Committee for Physician Training, which oversees and approves the training of all Australian consultant physicians, in 17 internal medicine specialities.
He is an elected Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine, the Australasian Association of Gerontology and the Australian Wound Management Association. He has both MB BS and MD through the University of Melbourne. His major research interest is defining the Frontal Variant of Alzheimer's Disease (fvad). Michael has been published extensively in major clinical areas such as the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and the quality use of medications in older people and co-authored the popular text ‘Geriatric Medicine’. He is also Joint Editor of the journal ‘Wound Practice and Research’, and Editor of the ‘Geriatric Therapeutics’ section of the journal ‘Pharmacy Practice and Research’.
Actor and presenter, Neighbours
Takaya, who plays Dr Tanaka in Network Ten’s popular soap opera Neighbours, made his debut as an Ambassador at a Memory Walk & Jog in Templestowe. He joined fellow Ambassadors Nicola Stevens and Amy Jackson. Takaya said he became involved with Alzheimer's Australia Vic as a result of his mum being diagnosed with younger onset dementia in her early 50s. "From then until now, the year of her 60th birthday, where we are looking to put her into full-time care, I have been looking for a way to positively contribute to raising awareness for Alzheimer’s Australia," Takaya said. .
"I am so thankful that being a part of productions like Neighbours and Play School (something that I wouldn’t have achieved without mum’s encouragement) have given me the profile to be able to encourage others to seek help or find out more about what they can do to care for a loved one living with dementia.
“’My family and I are truly grateful for the invaluable support and information we have received from Alzheimer’s Australia. From my experience I want to share with others that 'you are not alone'," Takaya said.
In Victoria 101,000 people are living with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is the peak body and charity representing people with all forms of dementia in Victoria. As the peak body, we provide specialised dementia information, education and support services.
Call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500