End-of-life planning for indigenous Australians

The artwork featured on the front and back cover of the booklet is Dying to Talk, by Allan Sumner.
The artwork featured on the front and back cover of the booklet is Dying to Talk, by Allan Sumner.

A NEW tool has been launched by the government to assist people with the sometimes difficult discussion about death.

Entitled 'Dying to Talk', the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Starter offers a step-by-step guide and aims to be culturally sensitive.

"Sometimes, we put these discussions off because its confronting and we don't want to face our own mortality," Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt said.

"No matter what the reasons, I am very grateful to live in a country that has such a strong palliative care system in place and palliative care health professionals who help us tackle these discussions."

What's in Dying to Talk?

The comprehensive guide asks critical questions in a structured and succinct manner about what would happen if a person or a loved one were sick. 

It encourages people to talk about what decisions they want made on their behalf by family members and health workers if a person becomes so sick they can't convey the decision themselves.

The resource invites its users to work through the following sections, answering pertinent questions in each one:

  1. Thinking about you and your family. Think about what is and isn't important to you and your family.
  2. Thinking about your health care. Think about where you want or don't want to be cared for, who you want and don't want to care for you and the things you do and don't want.
  3. Preparing your discussion. Prepare for talking with your family, a friend or your health worker.
  4. Reviewing your discussion. Think about how your talk went. What went well and what didn't go so well?

The guide also includes information on palliative care, advanced care plans, wills, registering as an organ and tissue donor, advising a family member where personal records are kept, planning what will happen with a person's social media account and planning a funeral.

The Federal Government provided $95,000 to Palliative Care Australia to develop the resources in conjunction with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, Indigenous Allied Health Australia and the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association.

"The resources will be distributed across Australia to Aboriginal Medical Services and Aboriginal Health Services which will in turn help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people start a discussion about dying in a way that is helpful, constructive and compassionate," Mr Wyatt said.

"It will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the most difficult of discussions, with respect and dignity."

The resources can be found at

Topics:  department of health general-seniors-news health indigenous health

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