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"Called Home" - The importance of Return to Country for First Nations peoples

Oral Presentation

May 13th 2022 at 4:00pm

Institution: Queensland Children's Hospital - Queensland, Australia

For First Nations Australians, the call to homelands or Return to Country and family of origin for the final stages of life holds considerable significance. The time before and following death is subject to many important customary practices that are sacred and culturally essential. For First Nations families, this cultural connection can be challenged when required to receive specialised care at tertiary healthcare settings in major cities. When families of First Nation heritage are faced with limitation of treatment options for their child, the option to Return to Country is not only paramount for the child and immediate family, but also for their entire community.
 To describe the culturally supportive and sustainable outcome of this aspect of care for First Nations patients, families and communities who feel the call to home.
This qualitative study used two approaches to explore and understand how this supportive response occurred for First Nations families and its impact on the patient, family, community and healthcare professionals supporting this care locally.
A phenomenological approach explored the initiation and practicalities around planning for this culturally supportive aspect of care and included interviews with families and specialist teams who came together with local teams to support the child/young person and family receiving palliative care whose final wish was to Return to Country.
Descriptive case studies were used to highlight and explore the outcomes of this specialised and specific focus of care which has enabled ongoing development and education possibilities.
 Culturally appropriate and sustainable delivery of supportive care for healthcare professionals caring for First Nations patients and their families when the best cultural care becomes Returning to Country.


  • Miss Karen Joy

    Clinical Nurse Consultant QLD Paediatric Palliative Care Service - Brisbane

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