audio close compressed excel CS_logo_icon_solid_yellow_alt Created with Sketch. x x image insta-black menu pdf Print BTN - Shortlist Created with Sketch. Share Asset 1 word


A life of passionate advocacy.

Life is short. Make sure you’re not living as if you’re dead.

Kate Swaffer has made a human rights-based approach to dementia, reducing stigma, and improving the quality of life for the 47.5 million people already diagnosed with dementia her focus over the last few years, and is changing the way the world views dementia.

Oh, and by the way, she herself is living beyond a diagnosis of rare form of younger onset dementia, having been diagnosed at the age of 49 in 2008, a married working mother of two teenage sons, also studying a double degree at the University of South Australia at the time.

Current work

Kate Swaffer is Chair, CEO and co-founder of Dementia Alliance International, a global group for people living with dementia. She is also a member of the World Dementia Council, a Board member of Alzheimer’s Disease International and the Inaugural Chair of the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Advisory Committee. Kate is also an honorary member of the Southern Dementia Advisory Group, having helped set up the Kiama Dementia Friendly Communities pilot project, also the only Dementia Friendly Community project in the world to have been recognised by the World Health Organisation.

Kate is also an Honorary Associate Fellow with the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong (UOW) and an International Fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University. Kate is also a current PhD student at UOW exploring dementia through autoethnography, and completed a Masters of Science in Dementia Care there with a Distinction in 2014.

Previous experience

Awards: It was announced on November 8, 2016 Kate is the winner of the prestigious 2017 Australian Of The Year Awards in South Australia. She was also a SA Finalist in 2016. Kate also won the University of Wollongong’s 2016 Alumni Social Impact Award for her global work in dementia, and was amongst the Westpac/Financial Review 100 Women of Influence announced for 2016.

In 2015, she won the Inaugural Dementia Leader award in the University of Stirling International Dementia Awards, was a joint winner of the National Disability Awards 2015 as Emerging Leader in Disability Awareness, the inaugural winner of the Dignity in Care Australia Achievement Award 2015 for her Outstanding Individual Contribution to Dignity in care, winner of the Bethanie Education Medallion Award 2015, and winner of the University of Wollongong, Community Engagement Award, and the Australian Association of Gerontology, Recognition of Achievements in 2014 at the University of Wollongong.

Speaking: Since 2009, Kate has delved into the world of public speaking, and has given more than 800 keynote presentations since then, both locally, nationally and internationally, including at the World Health Organisation on day 2 of the First Ministerial Conference on Dementia in Geneva in March 2015. She often works as an MC at conferences, or chairs conference sessions, and runs professional workshops and seminars. She was also a keynote speaker at the Alzheimer’s Australia’s first political ‘Fight Dementia’ campaign rally in 2011 in Canberra.

Commitees: Kate has been on numerous local, national and international committees and groups, including the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurements (ICHOM), having worked on the global Standards for Dementia, and she is currently consulting on the World Health Organisation Draft Global Dementia Action Plan in her role as Chair and CEO of Dementia Alliance, representing more than 47.5 million people with dementia and their families.

Author: Kate is a Humanitarian, advocate and activist for people with dementia, a widely published academic, author and poet. Her first book on dementia, What The Hell Happened to My Brain?: Living Beyond Dementia, was released in 2016, and her second book, Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, co-authored with Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low was released in September in time for World Alzheimer’s Month 2016.

Her first two poetry books were released in 2012 and 2016, and her third one is on the way. Kate also writes an almost daily blog, currently with more than 60,000 subscribers, which was archived in the PANDORA Collection of the State (SA) and National Library of Australia in 2012.

Our staff were blown away by her presentation! ACH Group

Kate is brilliant! We were privileged to have Kate present at our recent forum on human rights and dementia. Kate delivered a passionate and thought-provoking presentation, actively engaging participants and challenging their perceptions of dementia and current models of dementia care. Kate was able to share insights into her lived experience with dementia, as well as provide commentary from both the national and international perspectives. Our event participants had nothing but positive feedback for Kate. We look forward to working with Kate again


Kate, I am in awe of you/your work. I appreciate your positivity, passion and poise; keep it up!

Centre for Ageing and Pastural Studies

Kate Swaffer is an outstanding inspirational speaker whose story is so gutsy that you marvel at her incredible will power to live life to the fullest. Diagnosed with younger onset dementia at 49 she has become a global dementia activist determined to change people’s attitudes to dementia. Her words will linger in your thoughts long after she has finished speaking.

Ita Buttrose AC, OBE

Kate has made remarkable progress in changing the face of dementia in less than the four years since I have known her. Without doubt, she has started to change the worldview of dementia, and influenced and empowered others diagnosed with dementia to live more positively with it, rather than to do what many professionals in the health sector tell them to do, which is to go home and wait to die from it, via aged care...Kate’s voluntary work, and incredible drive, purpose and passion to help create positive change for the 50 million people around the world currently (and the millions others soon to be) living with dementia as well as their families globally, has been truly noteworthy.

Dr Michelle Funk, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization

You are an inspiration for all of us, including those of us with some form of dementia, caregivers, and ALL women and men from all walks of life who all wonder how you do it all! I'm sure the LOVE and support from your husband and family help you stay grounded so you can also take care of yourself! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your advocacy and support!


Loved your blog about those who inspire you personally... Dr Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, and your Aunt and Great grandmother. You are right up there with them! And we are all grateful for what you do, and all inspired daily by you.

Nerrilda Calvary

On International Women's Day we highlight the wonderful work being done by dementia advocate Kate Swaffer. Kate was only 49 when she was diagnosed with Younger Onset Dementia and was told to get her affairs in order. Instead she went on to co-found Dementia Alliance International, a non-profit organisation advocating for the 50 million people worldwide who have dementia. She has also won a swag of awards including Australian of the year, 2017, South Australia, University of Wollongong Alumni Social Impact Award, 2016 and 100 Women of Influence (Australia), 2016. She is such an inspiration to all those living with dementia and their carers.

Alzheimer’s Western Australia
Let us know

and we'll send all the latest Saxton updates and news direct to your inbox
Thanks, you have been subscribed
View Shortlist