Simon Wood MP, Kristen Aylmer DOH, Veney Hiller CEO PCT and Minister Guy Barnett.

Palliative Care Tasmania (PCT) welcomes the announcement by the Tasmanian Government on Sunday 26th November 2023 for investment in the palliative care workforce.

The Tasmanian Government is partnering with Flinders University to offer $540,000 in scholarships to Tamanian Health Service (THS) employees and volunteers to study a Certificate in Palliative Care or Specialist Certificate in Palliative Care.

Courses are aimed at enrolled nurses or nursing aides, registered nurses, Allied Health Professionals and Allied Health assistants, medical professionals, personal care assistants/support workers, volunteer ambulance personnel and paramedics within the THS.

The 10-week Certificate in Palliative Care will provide an overview and introduction to best practice end-of-life care and is structured to meet the needs of those who may occasionally engage with people with palliative care needs.

The 13-week Specialist Certificate in Palliative Care provides an overview of best practice and the opportunity to develop knowledge of the palliative approach to care for those frequently engaging with palliative patients.

Both courses are available online and will increase palliative care capacity and capability across the Tasmanian health workforce. The courses can be viewed here: Palliative Care Short Courses – Flinders University

The need for workforce capacity, education, professional development and training is evidenced from the recent Palliative Care Stakeholder Survey conducted by Palliative Care Tasmania with 89% of respondents in this survey reporting that professional development was among their highest priorities.

Health care professionals who made up 60% of respondents, outlined their biggest barrier to professional development is the cost of quality education and the opportunity to have flexible learning options outside of typical work hours. The scholarships through Flinders University provide this much welcome opportunity.

Workforce challenges are not unique to Tasmania. Australia-wide there is a call for action and a National Workforce Strategy for palliative care. However, the recent PCT State of Palliative Care Report for Tasmania highlights that the need is more acute in Tasmania as we have the highest standardised death rate in Australia (excluding Northern Territory) and an older and sicker population.

We know that the demand for palliative care is increasing rapidly, and this is likely to affect Tasmania sooner than other states.

The Tasmanian Government is taking a proactive leadership approach to this issue, with the announcement of these scholarships valued up to $3400.

The initiative will have a positive ripple effect across the community – including primary care, carers, volunteers and family – with more people understanding palliative care and their role in better supporting Tasmanians with a life limiting condition.

Applications for scholarships are open until 22nd December 2023.  To apply, please send an email to palliativecareservicedevelopment@health.tas.gov.au