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23rd August 2018

Palliative Care WA welcomes the release of the WA Parliament Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices report whose recommendations will see improvements in community awareness and access to palliative care across Western Australia.

Palliative Care WA President, Dr Elissa Campbell, said today “Palliative Care WA applauds the Joint Select Committee’s acknowledgement of the critical importance of palliative care and the need to substantially increase the level of access to and equity of palliative care across the State.”

“The Committee has recognised that many Western Australians currently do not have access to these essential services at the end-of-life, particularly those in rural and remote areas, Aboriginal people and people from culturally and linguistically backgrounds, and those diagnosed with non-malignant life-limiting illnesses.”

“Palliative Care WA support the Committee’s recommendation for an increase to in-patient palliative care beds and increased supports for at home palliative care services, such as those provided by Silver Chain.”

Dr Campbell further applauded the Committee’s call for the need for increased community awareness raising and education around Advance Care Planning and Advance Health Directives to enable all Western Australians to voice their end of life choices.   Dr Campbell said “it’s great that the Committee has heard Palliative Care WA’s call to improve understanding of palliative care in WA and has recommended the establishment of a palliative care information and community hotline (recommendation 11)”.

With regards to the recommendation to introduce legislation regarding voluntary assisted dying, Palliative Care WA recommends that any proposed legislation must be developed in consultation with palliative care experts. Dr Campbell said “we acknowledge that there are varying opinions within the palliative care sector regarding voluntary assisted dying. Regardless of the legality of voluntary assisted dying, the vast majority of end of life care in WA will continue to be provided by palliative care, primary care and aged care services and must be resourced adequately.”

In summary, in response to the report Palliative Care WA calls for:

  • Access to quality palliative care for all Western Australians who would benefit, regardless of address, cultural background or type of life-limiting illness.
  • Introduction to palliative care services and supports at point of diagnosis of a life-limiting illness or condition to maximise the value of a palliative approach.
  • Increased emphasis on community engagement and education approaches to inform the community about palliative care and advance care planning to increase understanding and improve quality of care at the end-of-life.
  • Resources to assist the community to better understand and navigate increasingly complex health and aged care systems.