200km walk in stand against rural health shortages

Kyabram health champion Mick Simpson holding his granddaughter is joined by Leader of the Nationals Peter Walsh and Deputy Leader Steph Ryan MP at Victorian Parliament after his 190km walk for dementia research.

A lack of healthcare options for regional Victorians diagnosed with dementia was the catalyst for a nearly 200km walk from north-east Victoria to the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne.

Kyabram health champion Mick Simpson completed the 190km walk to raise awareness and funding for dementia research.

Mr Simpson, 66, was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, prompting a four-year campaign to reduce the stigma and boost support for rural people in the first 12 months after their diagnosis.

Mr Simpson’s walk took him from Kyabram via Seymour and on to Melbourne in a nine day walk that’s raised more than $5,200 for Dementia Australia.

“Back in 2018, I was diagnosed with dementia and in the country, trying to talk to people is so frustrating because the services are not there when you really need a hand,” Mr Simpson said.

“The first 12 months of being diagnosed is the hardest – it really gets to the heart and it really gets to the mind. But if you’ve got a person there who can get you to get those feelings out, that’s what it’s all about.”

Figures from Dementia Australia show there are almost 500,000 people living with dementia in Australia. But sadly, that’s expected to rise to more than a million in the next 20 years.

“We used to fob it off as an old person’s disease, but it’s starting to get to the stage where it’s frightening – from 20 years of age up now,” Mr Simpson said.

“All governments – Federal and State – need to act, now.”