Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Supporting end of life care is about health professionals working together to do what the person that has been referred wants. It will include relieving pain and suffering, physical psychosocial and spiritual concerns.
Care teams recognise that consistent ongoing care is important to many, so if you have a new referral to a palliative care service, it is important to let them know of the services and support you are comfortable with (Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS), mainstream health professionals, Aboriginal community) and to ask if these services will work together to support the end of life journey as you advise.

Family and community

For many, family and community are important parts of life. Not all health professionals will know who is important to you or who they should talk to about your illness. It may help if you could tell your nurse or doctor about your family and how it is structured.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers have an understanding of families, the culture, traditional and contemporary ways of Indigenous Australians. Indigenous Health Workers can be found in community health services and hospitals. They work with other teams to support and advocate for the care required to support other Aboriginal people in their choices. These roles can be clinical and non-clinical although these responsiblilites do not impact on their ability to link with other service providers.

Traditional medicine

Many people use traditional medicines, and may also see traditional healers. This is part of culture and tradition and is recognised as such. Getting support from traditional healers, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, nurses and doctors may be helpful.

When someone is very ill

A general practitioner or doctor working with an Aboriginal community-controlled health service can assist in access to palliative care.

People often have to go away for treatment when they are sick. Staying away from home and country is sometimes necessary, but not if the person is very ill and not expected to live. Families don’t always know that they can have someone come home at the end.

Why would you need the help of a palliative care specialist?

A palliative care specialist is someone who has a large know-how in the care of someone who is really sick and not going to get better. They have knowledge that can help patients, families, Aboriginal community-controlled health services and mainstream health professionals.

  • From Respecting Patient Choices: Advance Care Yarning. (1.13MB pdf) A document for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There are many helpful articles and pamphlets in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resources section.


Last updated 23 January 2017