Orange Push For Palliative – forum recap

Vision from the Orange Push For Palliative

Late last month, the very organised Tracy Wilkinson, along with Jen Hazelton and many other Push For Palliative volunteers in Orange, organised what was a very successful forum which saw over 350 in attendance, from the local community, health community, the media and politics.

Scroll down for access to full-length videos of each speaker from the day – including Gail and Juliette O’Brien, Dr Joseph McRae, A/Prof Amanda Walker, a panel discussion and open forum session. Use these as resources to spread the word amongst your friends and loved ones!

  • The day started with formalities – a welcome from Mayor of Orange City Council Mr John Davis, and welcome to country by Mr Jamie Newman of the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service.
  • The audience then heard an emotionally charged speech from Gail and Juliette O’Brien, wife and daughter of the late Dr Chris O’Brien, and a harrowing first-hand account of Chris’s last few days.
“The cruel irony of it, his own death such a mess, and after he has done so much.” – Juliette O’Brien
  • The next few talks were from Government and LHD representatives. Chief Health Officer of Public & Population Health, representing the Hon. Jillian Skinner, Dr Kerry Chant spoke about the NSW Government Plan for palliative care 2012-2016 but focussed on advance care planning.
  • Richard Cheney, the District Director of Allied Health for Western NSW LHD, and Catherine Nowlan General Manager of the Orange Health Service then took the stage to discuss current plans and future directions. The audience was largely unimpressed, particularly by comments that the old Orange Base Hospital never had any sort of palliative care ward.
  • Local GP, Dr Joseph McRae received a standing ovation for his rousing speech, almost in direct rebuttal to Catherine and Richard’s presentation, about the need for palliative care in Orange, and the role General Practitioners can play in the last days of life.
  • A hard act to follow, the next speech was by myself, Dr Yvonne McMaster, in which I wrapped up the actual, sobering state of palliative care around NSW – and a little bit of the history around our Push For Palliative.
“At the sunset of our lives, may the way you pass away, be the way you want it to be.” – A/Prof Amanda Walker
  • A/Prof Amanda Walker, the Clinical Advisor to the CEC End of Life Care, and Senior Staff Specialist in Palliative Medicine for the SWSLHD (and self-confessed cat lady!) provided a very helpful, heartfelt and highly entertaining speech on Advance Care Directives – how to write them, how to communicate them, what they can and cannot do. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the subject.
  • A change of pace for the rest of the afternoon – the audience heard two short stories from the experience of two carers and local voices from the Orange community, Alison Dutton and Bev Glover.
  • Donna Moody, the First Assistant Secretary of the Ageing and Aged Care Services Division of the Commonwealth Department of Health, spoke helpfully about the Commonwealth Government’s role in end of life care and aged care – providing information, signposts and resources to help navigate the current complex system and get the most out of it.
  • This was followed by a panel discussion, facilitated by Michael Croke, featuring Ruth Jones (Director of Cancer Services & Innovation WLHD), Dr Louis Christie (Palliative Care Services Medical Officer, OHS/LHD), Dr Ken Hazelton (General Practitioner), with Jamie Newman (Aboriginal Medical Service) and myself returning to the stage.
  • Finally, it was time for the audience to have their say. Push For Palliative volunteers took multiple small groups of 5-10 audience members to jot down collective thoughts on what ideal palliative care provision would look like in Orange. The results have since been collated and will inform future advocacy.

You can access all the videos from the day here.


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