Paediatric palliative care national plan launched

Monday, 24 July, 2023

Paediatric palliative care national plan launched

Close to 9000 children and young people (0–21 years) in Australia were estimated to be living with life-limiting conditions in 2021, with the proportion of children with these conditions who have complex needs estimated to be around 38%. This is according to data from Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and Paediatric Palliative Care Australia and New Zealand (PaPCANZ).

Now a new national action plan has been launched with an aim to improve the quality and availability of palliative care for infants, children and young people with a life-limiting illness.

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney said, “When an infant or child is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, it is an enormously tough time for the child and their families and loved ones.

“Specialist paediatric palliative care services give professional, timely and compassionate care, which provides great support for everyone involved.

“The national action plan will help people to understand that paediatric palliative care isn’t all about dying, it’s about making each precious moment of life as good as it can be.”

The first Paediatric Palliative Care National Action Plan, developed by PCA and PaPCANZ, outlines a national approach to paediatric palliative care with four high-level priorities — quality; access; information sharing and collaboration; and data and research.

It aims to ensure the families and carers of infants and children with a life-limiting condition understand their palliative care options and receive the information and care they need.

Importantly, the action plan provides an outline to all governments, key stakeholder organisations, our health services and all health workers involved in the provision of paediatric palliative care to use this action plan to take steps to improve access to quality paediatric palliative care.

To support the implementation of the plan and raise community awareness of the benefits of paediatric palliative care, the Australian Government is providing $1.25 million over three years (from 2023–24) to Palliative Care Australia to progress this important work.

This funding will be used to raise awareness of the benefits of paediatric palliative care, develop and disseminate important educational resources, develop new training modules for our health workers providing paediatric palliative care and reviewing referral pathways, to further enhance timely access to this vitally important care for these children and their families. Consumers, health professionals, the palliative care sector and federal, state and territory governments were extensively consulted as the plan was drafted.

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