Page 522 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 17 February 2016

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said, $2.5 million was made available for end-of-life care at home to increase government support for end-of-life care by providing home-based palliative care options, more staff, and better education for healthcare professionals. To date, three projects have been funded under this; they are: a model of palliative care, a pilot study into home-based palliative care, and additional funding for the community specialist palliative care service.

Further to these, the ACT offers a number of palliative care services across the region. The Canberra Hospital has a nurse-led consultative service. The hospice at Clare Holland House provides inpatient accommodation for patients in the end stages of their life. Canberrans can access the palliative care education service. Community nursing also provides services. We have the support of great organisations like the Eden Monaro cancer support group and Palliative Care ACT. In addition, the respecting patient choices program commenced in 2006 and provides advance care planning across both Canberra and Calvary care sectors. The primary objective of that program is to provide a quality assured system of discussing, recording and documenting a person’s healthcare wishes.

The person and the interdisciplinary team are all essential participants in these discussions. Substitute decision makers, family and carers are included according to the patient’s express wishes and in accordance with the ACT’s legislative frameworks. In many, but not all, cases it is necessary to have a series of conversations so we get the goals right and the values and wishes of the patients are reached sensibly and with sensitivity.

End-of-life and palliative care processes require sensitivity and compassion. As the number of people seeking end-of-life support continues to increase, the ACT government will continue to inform and support clinical, organisational and strategic efforts to improve the quality of this care and ensure it aligns with national and international best practice.

Ms Porter is quite right to say that we need to have the courage to continue this conversation. We need to be prepared to hear the views of others and continue this important community discussion to ensure that we afford our community, our families and our loved ones the dignity and the choice that they deserve at the end of their life. Whilst Mary is reaching the end of her time in this place, I for one will continue in the shadow of Ms Porter’s efforts on this to make sure that we continue to have these conversations across the community. They are hard conversations. They are difficult at many times. Perhaps there is no more important time than now to discuss how someone chooses to end their life and to die with dignity with regard to themselves and their families. That is a conversation that we in this place should not shy away from.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (3.47): I thank Ms Porter for bringing forward this motion today. As she said, it is unfortunate that issues around end of life are not discussed perhaps as much as they should be. There is a certain discomfort for people in discussing these issues; therefore in that context I think it is good that they are brought to this place for discussion. I have been pleased that in the community in recent years we have been seeing a more active discussion of these issues. That can

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