Recognising the importance of palliative care, the Australian Greens have announced a new initiative to help ensure people's care choices can be respected and their pain and suffering minimised.
"Discussions about palliative care can be very difficult and challenging, but if we avoid it, family and friends may not know enough about our wishes to ensure we get the care we want," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on ageing said today.
"Up to 72,000 Australians are expected to need palliative care each year, and this number is likely to rise to 120,000. The Greens want to ensure that we provide better support for patients and families alike, and our initiative makes three core commitments to deliver this.
"We will invest an additional $15 million per year over 4 years into palliative care. This will include a $5 million increase for community care and a $10 million contribution into the existing state system. Only the Greens are ready to meet the needs of the increasing number of people who need palliative care.
"In addition to more funding, we will take steps to develop model legislation for Advanced Care planning. While some advance care planning decisions can be formalised legally via an Advance Care Directive, there is inconsistency between the laws of the States and Territories, so that if a person moves interstate, their wishes may not respected.
"Advanced care planning is very important for many patients, and relates to very personal issues like organ donation, treatment choices and where they choose to receive care. I chaired the 2012 Senate Inquiry into Palliative Care, which recommended that national model legislation for advance care planning be developed and all governments pursue harmonisation of laws as a high priority.
"The third component of our initiative delivers on another issue identified by the Senate Committee - the need for better information for patients and their carers and families about palliative care options.
"The Committee recommended that the government, with the assistance of the Council of Australian Governments, improve the information provided to palliative care patients, their carers and families, so more thorough support to people in crisis is available. The Greens will make sure that government addresses this issue and improves the quality and timing of the information and support people are given.
"This is a very challenging issue, but one that is so important for Australians who will need palliative care. The Greens can be trusted to continue standing up for important issues such as this in Parliament," Senator Siewert concluded.