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Providing culturally appropriate palliative care: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource Kit Project - Victoria

Project goals

To support improvement of the cultural competencies of specialist palliative care services to improve the delivery of palliative care to Koori people.

Project objectives

Improved awareness of palliative care services for the community; for Koori people and their families; and to assist Koori communities to understand the services available to them:

  1. Greater awareness, education and support to palliative care staff caring for Koori
    people and their families regarding cultural issues, past and present
  2. Increased information and support to Koori health workers and coordinators regarding palliative care services and enhanced skills
  3. Links between Aboriginal medical services and specialist palliative care services developed
  4. Strategies for sustainable collaboration of palliative care services and Aboriginal health services.

Project outcome

Strategies for the development of a framework that will facilitate:

  1. Greater involvement of Koori communities and the palliative care community in policy development and planning processes
  2. Greater awareness of service providers including palliative care providers of the importance of tailoring services to cultural needs and preferences of the Koori people
  3. Greater awareness of palliative care by Koori organisations and workers
  4. Networks developed and / or strengthened between Koori organisations and palliative care providers
  5. Development of a state plan for future development of culturally appropriate services for Koori people who are dying.


Victoria adopted a consultative approach to this project that maximise the input of Aboriginal communities to the project and facilitated the development of networks and links between mainstream health services and Aboriginal organisations. The Victorian Department of Human Services entered into a service agreement with Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc. (VACCHO) to undertake this project. The project team established a Project Reference Group, with representatives from key stakeholder groups (including palliative care providers and Aboriginal Health Workers).

In the first phase of the project, the project team reviewed existing practices, policies and resources to ensure appropriate resources were identified. A series of forums and workshops formed part of the consultation process. The Resource Kit was distributed widely throughout Victoria with over 250 copies sent to mainstream palliative care health services and Aboriginal Health Services. Consultation occurred in the following areas:

  • North West
  • Grampians
  • South and
  • Loddon Mallee.

The Resource Kit was viewed positively by health workers. However, Project Officers found that the subject of palliative care in Indigenous communities tended to spark very strong emotions and raised issues of what was appropriate business for Indigenous women and men to discuss openly. Some Elders found the public discussion of issues within palliative care very confronting and others expressed relief at finding out that support was available.

In the second phase of the project, a two day workshop was held at Marysville in late 2005. This workshop was seen as a way for workers around the state to share experiences in palliative care service delivery and for the project to record what works and strategies on how improvement in palliative care service delivery to Koori people could be achieved.

Close links were established with Palliative Care Victoria and the Program of Experience in Palliative Approach (PEPA).

Resources developed

Victorian Indigenous Palliative Care Project 2005: The Journey: Coming Together, Caring Together .

This page was created in September 2006