On the 4th of August, Taree Push for Palliative held its first public meeting. The night was orchestrated by Manning Valley Ambassador, Judy Hollingworth, with a large lead-up in local media, radio and TV.
Opened by Mayor Paul Hogan, 100 people attended on the night, and heard from Dr Colin Rose OAM – a local GP and longstanding supporter of local palliative care – as well as Elizabeth Fisher OAM, President of the Great Lakes Hospice, and myself.
A follow-up meeting on the 18th set in stone a Push For Palliative group in Manning Valley, attended by about 45. Right now, the group has 31 members, 8 of whom are offering themselves for Management Committee positions.
It’s all big steps for the Manning Valley. Of the 46,000 who live there, more than half live far from the regional centre of Taree. The region has a relatively high incidence of incurable illness across all ages and social groups, a quicker-than-average ageing population, and a higher Indigenous population than other districts. Many in the region are slow to seek medical advice, and therefore are treated later than is ideal.
Neighbouring Forster has for many years had a wonderful group of voluntary supporters of palliative care called the Great Lakes Hospice, who raise large amounts of money every year to supplement the shoestring services provided by the committed but overstretched palliative care nurses. The additional funding has meant that Forster residents have more palliative care support than residents in most of rural and regional NSW.
If you would like help organising a public meeting for your region, please reply to this blog or contact me via phone. I am more than willing to help you out!