Palliative Care

What is meant by the term palliative care, when and where it is provided and by whom.

Page last updated: 23 October 2017

The National Palliative Care Strategy

The National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 – Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life (the Strategy) represents the combined commitments of the Australian, state and territory governments, palliative care service providers and community based organisations to the development and implementation of palliative care policies, strategies and services that are consistent across Australia.

PDF version: National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 (PDF 274 KB)
HTML version: National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 (HTML)

The Strategy has four goal areas:

Awareness and Understanding
To significantly improve the appreciation of dying and death as a normal part of the life continuum.

To enhance community and professional awareness of the scope of, and benefits of timely and appropriate access to palliative care services.

Appropriateness and Effectiveness
Appropriate and effective palliative care is available to all Australians based on need.

Leadership and Governance
To support the collaborative, proactive, effective governance of national palliative care strategies, resources and approaches.

Capacity and Capability
To build and enhance the capacity of all relevant sectors in health and human services to provide quality palliative care.

An evaluation of the Strategy commenced in March 2016 and was finalised in October 2016. The outcomes of this evaluation and informed a review of the Strategy in 2017.

The Australian Government has a health policy leadership role in palliative care and provides financial support to state and territory governments to operate palliative care services, a form of subacute care, as part of their health and community service provision responsibilities.

In addition, the Australian Government funds a range of National Palliative Care Projects focussing on education, training, quality improvement and advance care planning.

Evaluation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 – Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life

This evaluation was undertaken to determine the relevance and useability of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 – Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life. The evaluation was informed by an evidence review as well as national consultation through workshops, in-depth interviews, and online submissions.

Evaluation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 - Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life (Word 891 KB)
Evaluation of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010 - Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life (PDF 1329 KB)

Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care Measure

As part of the 2017-18 Budget, $8.3 million over three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20 was provided for the Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care measure (the Measure) which will improve palliative care coordination through Primary Health Networks (PHNs). The Measure will build on existing infrastructure and current Australian Government investment in primary health care, to better coordinate and integrate primary, secondary, tertiary and community health services to support at home palliative care.

For more information, go to the web page Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care Measure - Frequently Asked Questions www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/greater-choice-home-palliative-care-measure-faq

The National Palliative Care Projects

The Australian Government funds a range of national palliative care projects primarily focused on education, training, quality improvement and advance care planning.

Collectively these projects aim to improve access to high quality palliative care through education and training for the health professionals and aged care workers, and raise awareness of planning for end-of-life care.

Specialist Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Advisory Services

The Australian Government also funds specialist palliative care and advance care planning advisory services nationally to aged care providers and general practitioners providing health care for recipients of aged care services.

A consortium led by the Queensland University of Technology will undertake this activity commencing in 2017-18.

The specific objectives of the Advisory Services are to:
  • provide specialist palliative care and advance care planning advice to aged care providers and GPs providing health care for recipients of aged care services;
  • improve linkages between aged care services and palliative care services;
  • improve the palliative care skills and advance care planning expertise of aged care service staff and GPs providing health care for recipients of aged care services; and
  • improve the quality of care for aged care recipients, prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and shorten hospital stays.

Whereto Research- GP Best Practice Research Project

In 2016, the Department engaged Whereto Research to undertake a study into awareness, attitudes and provision of best practice palliative care within General Practice. The project was completed in March 2017.

The study identified that GPs are interested in learning more about palliative care and would like local sources of information and easily absorbed and applied resources.

Findings from this research were disseminated through Primary Health Networks and will inform future policy.

For further information about the findings the final report is available here.

PDF version: Research into awareness, attitudes and provision of best practice advance care planning, palliative care and end of life care within general practice (PDF 1027 KB)
Word version: Research into awareness, attitudes and provision of best practice advance care planning, palliative care and end of life care within general practice (Word 5290 KB)