Australia was one of the first countries in history to respond to the social and personal needs of people with dementia through comprehensive policy initiatives. In the late 1970s, social workers, psychiatrists, geriatricians and service providers brought dementia into the policy arena by distinguishing the needs of older people exhibiting signs of dementia, with those of the general aged population.

In 1992, the first National Plan for Dementia Care was introduced with further initiatives implemented in 2005 and 2012. These policies were introduced as a direct acknowledgement of both an ageing population, with men and women living to advanced ages, and recognition of dementia as a disease process.

These health and welfare policies have helped frame constructions of old age in Australia as an active and independent period of life. The ongoing recognition and advocacy for dementia as a focus for health policy has resulted in an exchange of ideas and communications by professionals, advocates and policy makers globally.