Standing up for Canberra

National Palliative Care Week 2011

A few weeks ago I attended the National Palliative Care Week launch. The theme for the week was 'Let's chat about dying', which is a pretty confronting subject but essential to ensuring our expectations and those of our loved ones are met in the final stages of our lives. As the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, said in his speech at the launch, a conversation is also vitally important to ensuring the wishes of our loved ones are fulfilled when it comes to organ donation.

We need to plan for our care so that our last days are as comfortable and happy as they can be. One of the greatest barriers to receiving quality care at the end of life is a lack of knowledge and preparation. We need to think about advanced care plans well before our time is up so that our loved ones, our carers and our clinicians know what we want. One of the greatest barriers to getting the care we want at the end of life is not talking about it, and we should. Palliative care is not about hiding the dying away. It is about affirming life and including death as a normal process.

I thank David Lawrance and his team at the ACT Palliative Care Society, who allow many Canberrans to die in peace and with great dignity. I also thank Cancer Council ACT, Clare Holland House and the Capital Region Cancer Service for their ongoing work on palliative care.

Download a copy of this speech.