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Sex and Death and Dementia.

Tasmania’s labyrinth of art and pleasure, MONA, was originally described by the creator, David Walsh, as a museum of “sex and death.”

A far cry from Tasmania’s fairly conservative population, MONA struggled for acceptance but was eventually welcomed by the community and quickly became one of the most contemporary and progressive tourist destinations in Australia.

By 2019 another similarly “out there” development will see all eyes on the Tasmania again, but this time for something a little less ‘sexy’ than MONA’s premise. And eccentric tycoon, Walsh, has been consulted for help. Not sex and death or art, but dementia, will grant Tasmania its latest ‘progressive’ label.

Korongee, currently in development in a sleepy Hobart suburb, is a village entirely built and devoted to people living with dementia. The $25-million Korongee complex will transform a derelict site at Glenorchy, north of Hobart. The first of its kind in Australia and one of the most progressive developments in the Aged Care space the world has seen.

The village, a financial collaboration between Glenview Community Services and health sector superannuation fund HESTA with some funding provided by Commonwealth Government, will employ up to 50 staff and house 90 residents. It will also be an affordable alternative to regular Aged Care residential centres.

“For us, this is actually about providing a service for those people that can’t afford to get into a service that might be bells and whistles that would cost dollars,” founder, Glenview’s CEO, Lucy O’Flaherty says.

“This is actually about responding to the most disadvantaged in our community.”

The Korongee model draws on a range of international best practice models, but according to creator Korongee will be unique and hopefully the beginning of many more like it.

The project was inspired when O’Flaherty visited the Netherlands’ De Hogeweyk village in 2014, where residents have been found to take less medication and live longer since being there. Though, O’Flaherty says her model focuses more on the broader-community.

The decision to open Korongee to the wider community was pivotal in O’Flaherty’s plans and aims to help Hobart’s community understand “there is nothing to be frightened about dementia”, she says.

“They built Hogeweyk in a gated setting. They said to me, ‘If we’re going to build from scratch [again], we need to make sure the village is connected to the community.”

O’Flaherty knew she wanted something less divisive and needed some help to visualise a way the unique village could work within the community. And who else would understand that kind of blend? None other than MONA’s creator and Glenorchy native David Walsh. Glenview has been consulting with Walsh since inception.

Unlike Hogeweyk’s gated community model, Korongee will have an open door policy for locals to visit and engage with the businesses within the village. Town-planning taking dementia into consideration, Korongee will house a cinema, grocery stores, hairdresser and more.

The complex built into a typical Tasmanian cul-de-sac will replicate a small town, where residents are able to live as tho they were in the ‘real world’, free to wander and live independently in a supported environment.

“They’ll have staff that will [take part in] discreet observation, there will be technology, and the design of the facility will be as such that it will support residents within the village.” Says O’Flaherty.

A beautiful contrast to Walsh’s equally impacting village of MONA, O’Flaherty describes her creative vision just as passionately,

“What we are creating is real life.”

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