The Victorian Government has announced that it will be investing more than $62 million in additional funding for palliative care services over the next five years.

This new funning aims to increase the options for people with a terminal illness to be cared for, and die, in their place of choice.

This includes $19 million to be provided immediately for this financial year. This will help provide more options for support and care, particularly for people living in regional Victoria.

This funding boost will also provide a number of other supports including $6.25 million to establish a 24-hour expert advice line to address variability of access to after-hours palliative care advice for clients, carers and generalist health services, and address gaps for people living in rural areas

Another $19.5 million will go to better responding to demand and patient complexity by providing additional palliative care physician or nurse practitioner positions in Regional Palliative Care Consultancy Services

End of life auxiliary support services to assist people, families and carers to manage the day to day activities associated with caring for someone with a terminal illness at home will have the opportunity to be given grants, with the State Government pledging a total of $10 million in one off grants

And day now, the Upper House will vote on the Assisted Dying Bill in Victoria. Should it pass, $6.35 million will go to support the families of people who have accessed Voluntary Assisted Dying.

The Government will also support an independent review of palliative care funding to address any inequities that exist with the current model.

The review will consider how to improve sustainability for palliative care services and boost their capacity to deliver flexible patient-centred care.

It will be led by Melbourne Health Board Chair Robert Doyle, St Vincent’s Health Australia Deputy Chair Patricia Faulkner and Goulburn Valley Hospice CEO Carmel Smith.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy has said of the funding increase, “we‘re supporting quality and compassionate end-of-life and palliative care that relieves pain and suffering, and helps family, friends and carers.”

“This investment builds on our work to ensure that more Victorians can die at home, surrounded by their loved ones.”

“It will make a real difference to our hardworking palliative care workers and services across the state – particularly in regional Victoria – and will help more people get the care and support they need.”

The State Government already invests around $135 million per year on palliative care services and in March this year, they announced a $5 million equipment and infrastructure grant for community palliative care agencies to assist them to deliver care in people’s homes.

Aged & Community Services Australia welcomed the Victorian government’s additional funding for palliative care services, particularly for those terminally ill Victorians in rural and remote areas wanting to live out their final days at home.

“We understand how important choice is for palliative patients and their families – particularly the choice to remain at home,’ said ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow.

“We hope this funding commitment affords many more terminally ill Victorians and their families increased choice and flexibility when it comes to making those very personal decisions about their end-of-life care.”

Sparrow said palliative and end-of-life care were important elements of the overall service delivered by the aged care industry.

“Our workforce delivers palliative care and services to older Australians in a range of different settings, and it is imperative that we continue to support people to receive these services in their place of choice, whether that is in their own home or in residential aged care.”

“We are pleased to see a portion of that additional funding directed towards supporting home-based palliative care services in regional and remote areas where there is acute need for more carers and health services to support those living with terminal illness.”

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