Lived experience drives change in regional South Australia

Tailem Bend in regional South Australia is making strides towards becoming more dementia-friendly with the help of local Dementia Advocate, Bruce Weber, who is living with younger onset dementia.

Bruce’s lived experience has been instrumental in his hometown of Murray Bridge, located 20 kilometres from Tailem Bend.

As part of the Murray Bridge Dementia Alliance, Bruce has encouraged local businesses and the Murray Bridge Community Centre to make modifications to their physical environments to improve accessibility for people living with dementia.

Bruce was recently invited as a special guest to Tailem Bend’s “It Starts with You” session, aimed at increasing awareness of dementia and encouraging attendees to think about the small ways in which they can support the creation of a community that is more inclusive and enabling for people living with dementia.

During the session, Bruce shared the ways in which the community supports him to live well with dementia.

“When I was diagnosed with dementia, I got busy walking and keeping my mind active with recycled art,” Bruce said.

He is active and well-known in the Murray Bridge community, including at the local recycling centres he visits to find items for his next artwork.

Creating his art gives Bruce a sense of peace and an opportunity to meet with others.

“I collect all sorts of old junk and turn it into something new like sculptures or musical instruments,” he said. “My local recycling shop finds stuff for me too, because they know I’ll find a use for it.”

For Bruce, the support he receives from the community is vital to him continuing to live well with dementia.

Following Bruce’s successful presentation, the Tailem Bend Community Centre and the Coorong District Council are encouraging other businesses and organisations to consider how they can become more inclusive to people living with dementia and their carers through increased dementia awareness and becoming a dementia-friendly organisation.

Are you interested in what this could look like in your community?

The first step is to become a Dementia Friend. Find out more at or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.