State palliative care peak body on the verge of closure

Without a funding lifeline, Tasmania’s palliative care peak body will close its doors next week, ending its state-wide training and education services that include professional development for aged care.

Without a funding lifeline, Tasmania’s palliative care peak body will close its doors next week, ending its state-wide training and education services that include professional development for the aged care sector.

Palliative Care Tasmania general manager Colleen Johnstone told Australian Ageing Agenda she was preparing to close the peak’s Launceston office on Friday and its Hobart next Wednesday.

“That will be the end of the service unless we can get some type of last minute lifeline form the state government,” Ms Johnstone said this week.

PCT had boosted its services in 2013 when it received $2.6 million in federal funding to provide community-wide services including carer training and professional development under the Better Access to Palliative Care in Tasmania Program.

But since that funding ended in September, the 20-year-old peak has gradually reduced operations, and after exhaustive but unsuccessful lobbying efforts with the Commonwealth it is now calling on the Tasmanian Government to step in.

Colleen Johnstone

Ms Johnstone said Palliative Care Tasmania has worked with over 250 organisations and community groups and provided education, training and information to more than 15,000 people state-wide over the last four years, the majority of whom work in the aged care and community service sectors.

If the organisation closes, Ms Johnstone said that education and information would no longer be available in Tasmania, which would impact the whole community.

“This week alone we have knocked back seven requests for training from aged care facilities because we don’t have the capacity to do it,” she said.

Closure will impact aged care: ACSA

Darren Mathewson

Aged & Community Services Tasmania CEO Darren Mathewson said Palliative Care Tasmania’s closure would reduce critical workforce development in this specialist area and lessen support for individuals, families and communities.

“The aged care industry needs ongoing support in this area of core business to ensure our workforce is adequately skilled and supported and we are building capability across the industry,” Mr Mathewson told AAA.

Both state and federal governments should contribute equally to a recurrent funding arrangement as the benefits flow to both, he said.

While Palliative Care Tasmania is a member of the national peak Palliative Care Australia, it is responsible for securing its own funding.

PCA chief Liz Callaghan said the Tasmanian peak had made a valuable contribution to palliative care training and education in Tasmania and to national policy discussions and that it would be disappointing if it closed.

Future income options

Palliative Care Tasmania has requested the state’s May budget include adequate funding for the peak.

With a Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry into palliative care due to be released soon, Ms Johnstone said she was optimistic of success.

“Based on the evidence given to that enquiry, I am hopeful there will be recommendations to properly resource Palliative Care Tasmania because that enquiry recognised that we were the only ones in the state that do what we do.”

She said the peak could operate on the recent reduced capacity with about $400,000 a year and still do many events and reach a lot of people.

Without recurrent peak body funding, Ms Johnstone said it was difficult to attract other types of investment, such as corporate sponsorship.

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Tags: Aged-&-Community-Services-Tasmania, colleen-johnstone, darren-mathewson, education, end-of-life-care, palliative care, palliative-care-tasmania, workforce,

1 thought on “State palliative care peak body on the verge of closure

  1. This is shocking and a disgrace. Doesn’t the Tasmanian Government know that palliative care SAVES money? There is ample evidence to show that informing people about palliative care SAVES governments money in Emergency Department visits and admissions to hospital. This is a train wreck about to happen.

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