LAKE MACQUARIE PALLIATIVE CARE SERVICES

I thank the member for Lake Macquarie for raising this important issue. Earlier this year I was proud to stand with palliative care advocates in my community and support the I Care for Palliative Care campaign. I thank the hardworking members of the Cancer Council. I share their vision that every person with a life-limiting illness who needs specialist care can access it when they need it, regardless of where they live in New South Wales. I acknowledge Sylvia Shearer, in particular. Sylvia works tirelessly as a volunteer for the Cancer Council in the East Lake Macquarie community to ensure that people who are diagnosed with cancer get the healthcare services and support they need.

Following the shocking media reports about the state of palliative care in the Hunter region, I welcomed the Government's announcement of $100 million in funding for palliative care services. Palliative care advocates in my community tell me this is a good start in addressing the shortage in palliative care services, but more is needed. There is still little detail available on where that $100 million will be distributed. The discussion paper from the palliative care round tables held earlier this year is yet to be released. Palliative care advocates are keen to see initiatives that will deliver culturally appropriate palliative care services for Aboriginal families in need.

The Auditor-General's report handed down in August this year shone a light on the gaps in palliative care service provision, and what is needed to enable people with a life-limiting illness to have a death free of pain and suffering. The report tells us that demand for palliative care services will more than double over the next 30 years. At the moment, 70 per cent of people want to die at home but only 14 per cent of people do. We also know that the cost of dying in hospital far exceeds the cost of dying at home. Providing the necessary care and support to people with a life-limiting illness means they can pass peacefully in the comfort of their own homes, with their loved ones.

At the moment, even with the recent injection of much-needed funds into palliative care services, this option is not available to everyone. I acknowledge the Government's commitment to implementing all the recommendations made by the Auditor-General. I note the recommendation reviewing the funding allocation model to ensure that future enhancement funds are distributed equitably and transparently based on the need and population of districts. Palliative care, in order to be effective, must be responsive to the needs of the community. It is not fair that people who live in regional areas should suffer at the end of their life due to a lack of funding or poor coordination of services.

At the end of the day, this is an easy decision to make. I know my colleagues across the political divide will maintain a watching brief to ensure that these recommendations are fully implemented to improve palliative care services in our communities. I applaud the member for Lake Macquarie for bringing this matter before the House and I support the motion.

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