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Launch of National Palliative Care Week 2005.



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Media Release

The Hon Tony Abbott MHR Minister for Health and Ageing

Launch of National Palliative Care Week 2005 23 May 2005

Carers who nurse the terminally ill are the unsung heroes of our community, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, said at the launch of National Palliative Care Week.

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Carers who nurse the terminally ill are the unsung heroes of our community, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, said at the launch of National Palliative Care Week.

This week is an opportunity to recognise the contribution made by people who provide palliative care on a personal or professional basis.

About 50 per cent of deaths in Australia are caused by terminal illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, neuro-degenerative diseases or end-stage organ failure.

Caring for someone as his or her life draws to its end is a very difficult responsibility that requires compassion and strength. Australia is lucky to have so many qualified and compassionate palliative care workers.

Good palliative care brings together hospital, residential aged care and community care services such as GPs, counsellors and nurses. Family, friends and volunteers are often involved. Within the last five years, one in 30 Australians has provided hands-on care for a prolonged period to someone with a terminal illness.

The Commonwealth Government is supporting patients and carers, and ensuring health and community services are appropriate and accessible. The government has committed more than $200 million through the Australian Health Care Agreements (2003-2008) and a further $55 million over four years for national activities to support improvements in the standard of palliative care offered in the community.

The government will also provide $23.1 million over the four years from 2005-06 for the

Local Palliative Care grants program to improve access to palliative care.

Today is the launch of the 4th edition of Standards for Providing Quality Palliative Care for All Australians, developed by Palliative Care Australia, the national peak body for palliative care. This latest edition emphasises the importance of linked services and partnerships to improve care and enable patients to gain better access to specialist palliative care services.

Government programs have built partnerships between palliative care services and GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, respite care services, residential aged care facilities and other health professionals. For information about these initiatives, please see www.health.gov.au/palliativecare.

Media contact: Kate Miranda 0417 425 227