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Northern Territory

Providing culturally appropriate palliative care: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource Kit Project - Northern Territory (NT)

Project goals

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

Project objectives

  1. To ensure that resources identified and produced by the Indigenous Palliative Care Resource Kit meet Australian Government, jurisdictional and regional standards for cultural safety within each represented indigenous community; and that they are available to all health care providers delivering palliative care services in the NT.
  2. Improved capacity of mainstream service providers to deliver culturally safe palliative care
  3. Identify and work collaboratively with existing Indigenous and non-Indigenous health care providers delivering palliative care services to enhance training and communication with mainstream providers.

Project outcome

Strategies for the development of a framework that will facilitate:

  1. Developing culturally appropriate palliative care practice principles and educational resources relevant for the Northern Territory
  2. Increasing awareness of the culturally safe palliative care practice principles and educational resources for Indigenous Australian peoples across the Northern Territory
  3. Strengthening networks and collaborative working practices between mainstream palliative care service providers and local Indigenous communities to implement culturally appropriate palliative care practice principles
  4. Ensuring easy access to and broad distribution of the Indigenous Palliative Care Practice principles to relevant providers of Indigenous Palliative Care Services.


This Project adopted a consultative process working with a Reference Group that included key Aboriginal service providers from the Top End and Central Australia. 

The project team participated in a number of National and NT-based workshops and conferences. In total 285 health providers participated in 30 workshops and in-service sessions throughout the NT including Darwin, Katherine, East Arnhem Land, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. Participants included health providers in hospitals, general practitioners, the NT Hospice unit, community care centres, aged care facilities, community organisations, Aboriginal health and medical services, government and non government health services.

In addition to these workshops, 9 palliative care awareness raising workshops were held in remote areas across NT. These remote communities included:

Top End

  • Nhulunbuy
  • Ngukurr
  • Wugular
  • Galiwinku 
  • Laynhapuy Homelands 

Central Australia

  • Docker River
  • Utopia
  • Ernabella
  • Mimili

The awareness-raising sessions, in conjunction with the Program of Experience in Palliative Approach (PEPA) Program, have strengthened relationships between Aboriginal people within remote communities and health professionals providing palliative care services.

Positive feedback has been received within the NT of the resources developed and participants at workshops and in-service sessions expressed an increased awareness and understanding of Indigenous cultural issues. Discussions within workshops highlighted the challenges that health workers faced in accommodating some Indigenous palliative care practices in the workplace. The barriers to accommodating cultural practices were work policies and procedures and the lack of understanding of the importance of traditional death practices.

Resources developed

  • Companion Guide for implementing best practice palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Northern Territory 
  • CD/DVD Multimedia PowerPoint presentation “Many Ways of Caring - Providing Culturally Appropriate Palliative Care to Indigenous People in the Northern Territory”. This resource can be accessed by contacting Territory Palliative Care on (08) 8922 6761.

This page was created in September 2006