CHeBA launches Change Makers – Next Gen Philanthropy

With dementia impacting 55 million people globally, this initiative from UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) will promote the importance of modifiable lifestyle factors.

HEIDI DOUGLASS | h.douglass@unsw.edu.au

With dementia impacting 55 million people globally, UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) today launches Change Makers – Next Gen Philanthropy, in partnership with KPMG, and in line with World Alzheimer’s Day.

With a vision of empowering emerging leaders aged 18-40 to elevate philanthropic support of dementia research for a brighter future in ageing, the new initiative will promote the importance of modifiable lifestyle factors to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. 

KPMG Australia’s National Managing Partner of Audit, Eileen Hoggett, said the initiative aligned with KPMG’s core values.

“As an organisation we are extremely proud of our people and the importance they place on social responsibility,” said Ms Hoggett. “I encourage our next generation leaders to get involved.”

“Unfortunately, like so many, I have felt the enormous pain and heartbreaking impact of dementia. My beloved mum died of early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the tender age of 66. Through that experience I witnessed, firsthand, the vital work of organisations supporting research.”

Eileen Hoggett, KPMG Australia’s National Managing Partner of Audit

Ambassadors PJ Lane, Edward Caser and Keri Kitay have also witnessed the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s disease and have joined forces to encourage the next generation to become Change Makers.

PJ Lane, who gave up his burgeoning basketball career in the United States to return to Australia and help look after his father, entertainer Don Lane, says the next generation should already be thinking about their brain health in late life.

“By the time those currently aged 18-40 are in their 50s, 60s and 70s, it is expected that the number of people with dementia will have more than tripled,” said PJ.

“Change Makers will support research that will inevitably impact their own future.”

PJ Lane, Change Makers Ambassador

PR and brand expert, Keri Kitay, whose communications company KK Projects prioritises ventures in fitness, sport and lifestyle, is excited to be an Ambassador.

“Advocating risk reduction of dementia from a young age throughout life by regular physical activity, complex mental activity, having meaningful social connections and reducing alcohol intake aligns perfectly with my professional mission,” said Keri, whose mother passed away from aggressive Alzheimer’s disease in 2019.

"The next generation has a strong sense of social responsibility and is eager to be involved in initiatives like this," said Keri. "I encourage everyone in their 20s and 30s to think about their brain health and get on board as a Change Maker.”

Fellow Ambassador Edward Caser, who co-founded and subsequently sold an investment technology business while caring for his mother, believes nothing prepares you for a parent’s decline in cognitive and mental capacity.

“From noticing early changes in mum’s behaviour, managing her condition and decline then placing her in care, I unfortunately had to learn about brain health as I went along. Being armed with knowledge in this area is vital as the effects of Alzheimer’s is devastating,” said Edward.

"We need to increase funding for research as well as create a network of people in their 20s and 30s who are driven to make a change to the future of this disease," said Edward.

Spokesman for The Dementia Momentum and Chairman of IPH Limited, Dr Richard Grellman AM, whose wife Suellen has advanced young onset Alzheimer’s disease, said that given three in 10 Australians over 85 have dementia, there is a critical need for increased investment in research toward prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

“At the same time, the goal is to advance knowledge across all generations to maintain physical activity from a young age throughout life so as to reduce risk of dementia in late life,” said Dr Grellman.

“My hope is that my grandchildren grow older unburdened by the anticipated increase in dementia in society. 

Dr Richard Grellman AM

For that to occur, we need the next generation’s support of research and awareness raising.”

Dr Grellman acknowledged the efforts of the initiative’s Ambassadors and congratulated the founding philanthropists.

Change Maker Ruby Pradhan, 26, is one of them.

“I’m inspired by the work undertaken at CHeBA and the dedication of the research, support staff and donors I’ve met.

"Philanthropy isn’t just for people who have extraordinary wealth. Through regular giving I am proud to be part of something that improves the world in which we live," said Ruby.

For fellow Change Maker Lily Calderbank, 32, it is important that CHeBA’s research continues so more is learned about what contributes to healthy brain ageing as well as the greatest risk factors for dementia.

“My hope is that my contribution makes a small difference.

"I also hope there are others that do the same as me so that my small difference turns into big change," said Lily.

The Change Makers – Next Gen Philanthropy program provides the next generation of Australians with the opportunity to make an enormous difference, by combining regular giving donations to amount to larger, more impactful research contributions.

Change Makers will have access to tours in the CHeBA laboratory and educational workshops that cover healthy brain ageing and modifiable risk factors for dementia, geared specifically for an 18-40 audience.  Importantly, Change Makers will create a better future by ensuring critical projects undertaken at CHeBA continue to create world-first breakthroughs into prevention and cure.

CHeBA’s Co-Directors Professor Henry Brodaty and Professor Perminder Sachdev said the contributions to the Change Makers – Next Gen Philanthropy program would support The Dementia Momentum, which seeks to find strategies to prevent or delay symptoms of dementia.

“A number of risk and protective factors are already known, and since the disease process generally begins 20-30 years before symptoms become apparent, there is a window of opportunity for its prevention or delaying of symptoms,” said Professor Sachdev.

“If our research can find such strategies, all age groups will benefit by avoiding onset of dementia as we age, by reducing the burden on carers and by reducing the economic and social cost to the community,” said Professor Brodaty.

Click here to find out more about the Change Makers - Next Gen Philanthropy program

If you are interested in your organisation partnering with the Change Maker – Next Gen Philanthropy program please contact h.douglass@unsw.edu.au