The palliative care sector is cheering as two champions of the sector take centre stage at the Australian of the Year Awards, amongst other outstanding Australians.
“The conversations and learnings that will come from this over the next year will change our country and how we approach life and dying,” says Camilla Rowland, Chief Executive Officer, Palliative Care Australia (PCA).
“Samar and Teresa deliver a message that I think Australian’s are ready for; during those months of lockdowns and COVID restrictions we were reminded about the important things in life.
“And as Samar and Teresa will tell you, palliative care is all about enhancing the life that is left to be lived, and making the most of those years, months, weeks, and days.”
Professor Samar Aoun is an international leader in approaches to palliative care, and advocates for a person-centred approach to end-of-life support and care. Her work in the Compassionate Communities movement is a great example and equips people to better support those facing death and bereavement. Prof Aoun is the 2023 West Australian – Australian of the Year.
As a former nurse, Teresa Plane is recognised as a pioneer of modern palliative care in Australia. Realising early in her career that she was a “death-denying nurse”, Mrs Plane was inspired to study palliative care overseas before opening her own hospice and palliative care services in Sydney. Mrs Plane is the NSW Senior Australian of the Year.
“It’s such a great honour, I am thrilled to be a voice for palliative care,” Prof Aoun told PCA.
“I can amplify the needs of the sector, including Compassionate Communities and their role in palliative care.
“The community is still confused about palliative care and what it’s about, people think its only for the very end of life and therefore they miss out on having quality of life.”
Reflecting on her award as NSW Senior Australian of the Year, Mrs Plane told PCA, “I really want to see palliative care delivered much earlier, there is so much that can be done that will give people a good life – right till the end.
“To be with somebody who is dying, to hold their hand, is a privilege and so important to the grief and bereavement process – there is so much we can learn.
“It can be hard to face, but palliative care is there to support the person dying and those left behind, from early on in the illness to the very end.”
The recognition both women have received is a great acknowledgment for the palliative care workforce as a whole; the doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, volunteers and careers who deliver person-centred care everyday.
“And it comes at a key time in the Government’s reform agenda around aged care, Medicare, and the wider health system,” says Ms Rowland.
“This recognition also demonstrates that Australians are ready to engage in the important conversations and thinking around planning for quality of life at end of life!
“Australia’s ageing population and increasing case load of chronic disease is driving a 50% increase in demand for palliative care services over the next decade, and a doubling in need by 2050.
“Palliative Care Australia’s 2022 – 2027 Roadmap presents the Commonwealth Government with a number of initiatives to meet that need and provide the care all Australians deserve and need.
“We look forward to contributing to the reform work of the Government as they prepare the May Budget and drive further change in 2023.
“Congratulations to Samar and Teresa on this significant recognition, thank you for your service – you inspire us all.
“And congratulations to all the nominees and recipients, you call on us to be better across a range of areas, we are ready to hear your message and work with you.”