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New South Wales

Providing culturally appropriate palliative care: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resources Kit Project - New South Wales (NSW)

Project goals

To support improvement of the cultural competences of specialise palliative care services to deliver palliative care to Indigenous Australians.

Project objectives

To consider the recommendations and strategies proposed in the Australian Government document "Providing Culturally Appropriate Palliative Care to Indigenous Australians" and to provide a plan for the implementation of the Practice Principles at a local level across the NSW public health system.

Project outcome

Strategies for the development of a framework that will facilitate:

  1. Greater involvement of Aboriginal communities and the palliative care community in policy development and planning processes
  2. Greater awareness among palliative care providers of the importance of tailoring services to the cultural needs and preferences of Aboriginal peoples.


New South Wales’s approach aimed to develop resources to support behavioural and organisational change and focused on key palliative care staff within mainstream organisations. A focus of the project was on encouraging networks and links with Indigenous organisations at both the organisational and personal level.

NSW outsourced the project management to the Collaborative Health Education Research Centre (CHERC) and St Vincent’s Hospital, Lismore, NSW. A Steering Committee provided advice and guidance to the project team.


  • 38 workshops were held throughout the state with 448 participants
  • 66% of participants were non-Aboriginal nursing, medical and allied health staff
  • 33% of participants identified as Aboriginal.

The project team found some excellent examples around NSW of Palliative Care teams working in partnerships with Aboriginal health providers and giving culturally safe care. For many services however there had been limited or no contact with the Aboriginal health teams prior to the workshops.

Some barriers identified in workshops in implementing aspects of the Resource Kit included:

  • Lack of understanding by local Aboriginal communities about palliative care and how it works
  • Mistrust by Aboriginal people of the health system as a government department
  • Lack of Aboriginal people employed in palliative care teams
  • Lack of understanding by mainstream staff about Aboriginal cultures
  • Pressure of time and resources to fully utilise the Resource Kit.

Strategies identified in breaking down barriers included:

  • Education
  • Partnership building
  • Development of Working Groups
  • Education on cultural safety for all mainstream health providers
  • Management strategies to facilitate change.

As a result of the workshops over half of the sites visited decided to establish working groups to build and sustain relationships between palliative care service and local Aboriginal health services / organisations. 

Resources developed

The workbook was produced to assist health care services and health care professionals implement best practice palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW.

These resources have been very well received, distributed widely throughout the country and will be utilised in undergraduate nursing courses in NSW.

Last updated 14 July 2008