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Aboriginal Cultural support for Paediatric Palliative patients and their families

Oral Presentation

October 13th 2022 at 4:00pm

Institution: SCHN - NSW, Australia

The introduction of the Palliative Care AHW role in 2019 provided an opportunity to address an unmet need for providing advocacy and cultural support for children and their families requiring palliative care. The position also aimed at evolving a culturally safe environment through supporting/guiding colleagues in regard to Aboriginal Culture.

The importance of the role to include the chronic and complex patient population, was initially a strategy to improve palliative care referrals. However, over time it has also shown the importance of establishing an early connection between the AHW, the child and their family. This relationship is essential to support the families to navigate their distrust with the health system due to historical traumas as well as the impact of intergenerational trauma.

Since commencing, the AHW has established relationships with 49 chronic and complex care patients. 10 of these patients were subsequently referred to palliative care. The involvement of the AHW role throughout this process was fundamental to support not only the patient and family but also the medical teams.  These patients in the past may not have been referred without the central role of the AHW who provides a valuable connection to link the health system and the Aboriginal community.

Being able to give Cultural support to Mob from regional and rural areas has also shown to make a difference to our patients and their families during their treatment/s at SCHN especially during the past 2 years with the extra impact of COVID.

Having built a rapport with both patients and their families also enables additional support during their Sorry Business. Sorry Business for Aboriginal peoples starts when the patient either becomes unwell and/or when they are diagnosed. The AHW role provides support to meet the Cultural needs of Aboriginal families and guide them culturally if they request. The role importantly also supports clinicians when giving families bad news and/or having difficult conversations to ensure this is done in a culturally safe manner.

During my oral presentation I will yarn about 2 families that I have supported and advocated to showcase the importance and value of the Palliative, Chronic and Complex AHW role.


  • Ms Tanya Quinn

    Palliative, Chronic and Complex Care Aboriginal Health Worker (AHW) - SCHN - Palliative Care Team

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