Hansard: Parliament of Tasmania – House of Assembly

– Adjournment for National Palliative Care Week –

Tasmanian Parliament, House of Assembly Hansard - National Palliative Care Week address by the Minister for Health, Tuesday 21 May 2024

Mr BARNETT (Lyons – Minister for Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing):

“Madam Deputy Speaker, I am very pleased to speak tonight to acknowledge National Palliative Care Week, from last Sunday, 19 May through to this Saturday, 25 May 2024. It is a year where the theme is, ‘People at the heart of quality palliative care’. It highlights the holistic nature of palliative care, shining a light on the doctors, the nurses, the allied health professionals, community service carers, volunteers and Tasmanians living a life with a limiting illness, their families and chosen loved ones, and those who are grieving a loved one.

Today, I want to say thank you to all the members in this place who have worn the orange heart pin, to say thank you to those involved in palliative care and for the people whom they care for and/or love. Many in this place and around our great state of Tasmania have a personal connection with palliative care.

For me, my father had Motor Neurone Disease. Some three years since his diagnosis, he died at the age of 58. I am very grateful for the care and compassion shared and given to my dad, particularly and primarily by my late mother, who did such a great job in providing that care, and for my three brothers at the time. It certainly was a very difficult time, but the love demonstrated in the care given certainly provided a bonding and a deep love and friendship amidst a time of great difficulty. I thank God for sustaining my mother during that time and our family.

I want to recognise that two people in Australia die every day from Motor Neurone Disease, two people are diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease every day, and 2300 people are living in Australia with Motor Neurone Disease. I acknowledge Motor Neurone Disease Australia. I have been president here in Tasmania; I have been an ambassador for many years, not now, but in past years. It is a real privilege to be an advocate for people with diabetes. I acknowledge Neale Daniher and FightMND. They have raised millions of dollars for research; an incredible job indeed.

I want to pay tribute to Palliative Care Tasmania. They are the peak body for providing that care in Tasmania and do an absolutely fantastic job. Véney Hiller is the CEO. I want to pay tribute to Véney and thank her and her team for the wonderful work that they do. They work collaboratively with their members in the sector to empower communities to be death and grief literate. They support the workforce to provide for and help volunteers and carers and the like. They advocate very effectively for Tasmanians in palliative care, with that life limiting illness, to have access to the compassionate, quality care that Tasmanians deserve.

I say thank you to the Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, who helped launch National Palliative Care Week 2024 with a recorded speech, highlighting the importance of the palliative care workforce providing quality of life at the end of life. I want to add to the Premier’s message in thanking and recognising the skill and dedication of the people at the heart of quality palliative care for the work that they do. It is really great to be acknowledging Palliative Care Tasmania for what they do, driving awareness and providing that support about the benefits of good-end- of-life planning. They have 15 free online and community events to be held across Tasmania this week.

Other events include Matters of Life and Death Mini Expo. Local landmarks, including at Wrest Point Casino, Launceston Town Hall, and Burnie City Council office, are being lit up in orange and blue to recognise the significant role palliative care plays in the community. Palliative Care Week is about providing that care and acknowledging those families and people involved.

Last year when I was down at Nubeena at the neighbourhood house there to see the education and awareness around death that was being put on, it just showed the local community coming together on some very challenging issues. Thank you to the neighbourhood house at Nubeena for what they are doing there.

I say thank you to my department who have again partnered with Flinders University in offering scholarships to staff to study either a Certificate in Palliative Care or Specialist Certificate in Palliative Care. These scholarships certainly show how serious we are as a government, and it is consistent with our 2030 Strong Plan for Tasmania’s Future. In the first round, 82 Tasmanian health service staff – including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and allied health professionals – have been awarded those scholarships, certainly providing that support for upskilling and building the capacity across Tasmania.

Palliative Care Tasmania Statewide Learning through Loss Program has received funding as well for an additional 12 months. I was standing with again Véney Hiller and others at the Calvin Christian School in Launceston just last year when this was part of the program. So far they have trained 388 school staff members across 39 diverse schools, and 195 professionals and volunteers from 33 youth-facing organisations, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to support young individuals through grief and loss. What a wonderful contribution to the people of Tasmania and their communities. I want to acknowledge that.

I say thank you to the Governor and patron of Palliative Care Tasmania, Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, who launched National Palliative Care Week at Government House yesterday. I was able to share a few remarks and time with Her Excellency to say thank you. I know it was a wonderful event.

I pay tribute to Peter Rasmussen, who shared his story in today’s Mercury. He has been diagnosed with an inoperable stage 2 brain tumour. Mr Rasmussen is husband to Kirsten and a father of three. Peter shared how his perspective changed when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I want to pay tribute to him and thank him for sharing his story. I

say a big thank you to those at the Whittle Ward in Hobart. On their 30-year anniversary last year on 26 November, the Premier and I went there to say thank you. The care and wonderful compassion that is demonstrated in a professional way is outstanding. My grandfather was there many years ago, but that care is ongoing.

To wrap up, I acknowledge the wonderful support provided during Palliative Care Week.”