Good morning. I would also like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land — the Ngunnawal people — and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
I also extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be present here today.
Thank you Nola Marino for your kind words — it’s great to be here to represent my colleague, the Minister for Rural Health, Bridget McKenzie.
Bridget was unfortunately unable to make it here today, but I know how passionate she is about palliative care — particularly for people living in rural and regional communities across Australia.
I would also like to thank the Parliamentary Friends of End of Life group for its work — and again make the point that it’s great when we can put our political differences aside to focus on what really counts — in this case, palliative care.
National Palliative Care Week is held every year to raise awareness of palliative care in the Australian community.
It is organised by Palliative Care Australia — and I, like others here today, would like to put on record that I think your organisation does a wonderful job.
It takes a very special person to work in palliative care — be it as a paid worker or as a volunteer — and it’s a very special organisation that represents the sector and dedicates itself to improving the quality of palliative care in this country.
It’s apt that National Palliative Care Week is being held in the same week we celebrate the work of our volunteers — National Volunteer Week.
Anyone who lives in the country — like I do, up in Queensland’s beautiful Wide Bay — knows country communities could not operate without volunteers. And this extends to palliative care.
Volunteers in rural and regional parts of the country play a very important role in delivering palliative care services — not just for patients, but for their families too.
• It might be providing a little respite for carers.
• It might be providing some companionship — a smile and a friendly chat that makes a patient’s day.
• It might be providing transport so someone can get to an appointment.
• Or it might be offering bereavement services.
The work of our palliative care workforce — and those who volunteer their time — across regional Australia helps to make people’s last weeks and days as good as they can be.
And so I again would like to put on record my great appreciation for everyone in regional Australia who helps to deliver palliative care services.
I know in my electorate of Wide Bay in Queensland we have the most fabulous palliative care workers and volunteers.
There are too many institutions for me to name them all, but I have to mention the much-loved Little Haven Palliative Care facility in Gympie that Bridget and I visited in January not long after she became the Minister for Rural Health. Little Haven Palliative Care supported both my mother, Yvonne, and my father in law, Cyril, and is a cherished service that has cared for many individuals and their families. I thank Sue Manton and her team and acknowledge that Gympie wouldn’t be the same without the care they deliver.
And of course, there is the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, Hervey Bay Hospital Health Service and Maryborough Base Hospital — among others — all delivering palliative care.
And all staffed by health workers dedicated to delivering compassionate care.
Let me conclude by saying one of the measures of a compassionate society is how well it supports its citizens at the end of their lives.
I can assure everyone here the Australian Government is absolutely committed to properly funding palliative care across Australia to deliver our citizens — including those living in rural and regional communities — the dignity they deserve at the end of their lives.