Shayne Neumann MP
Federal Member for Blair

Australian Labor
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Ipswich Hospice Care

16/06/2008

Making the transition from life to death is often an extraordinarily difficult process—the loss of function, the loss of the ability to walk and talk, to feed oneself and to attend to the basics of hygiene. Death touches us all. All of us have known people who have died and all of us have been to the funerals of families and friends. Some of us no doubt have had the honour of speaking at eulogies for those whom we have loved. It is that passage from life to death that I want to talk about tonight.

It is not just senior citizens who experience this. Death is no respecter of persons. Young people die, and often it is the family and friends who are there at the end and to have to live lives of bereavement who also suffer. I am pleased to say that the Rudd Labor government has expanded the eligibility for the carer payment (child), extended the eligibility for the utility allowance and given lump sum bonuses of $1,000 to recipients of the carer payment and $600 to recipients of the carer allowance. It is trying enough for carers to deal with people who are suffering from disability, but for those who are dying it is even more challenging.

I want to talk about a wonderful facility in my electorate of Blair. It is just 2½ kilometres up the road from my home. I refer to the Ipswich Hospice which is run by Ipswich Hospice Care Inc. The Ipswich Hospice is a six-bed healthcare facility. I have visited the place and I have talked to staff. I have talked to the director, and I have talked to residents. It truly does provide quality palliative care to terminally ill persons and their families. It is a homelike environment and the people there really do care. For years its director was Jan Wilton, a talented and caring registered nurse with whom I had the privilege of serving on the local health community council for many years. Now a friend of mine, Ros Holloway, is the director, a capable and caring person whom I have had the privilege of knowing through my local church involvement.

I am pleased to announce that a one-off Australian government grant of $13,790 has been provided to the Ipswich Hospice Care Inc. to purchase office equipment and resources. This will involve a photocopier and printer, a computer, a filing cabinet, a filing cupboard, first aid training for two staff and 10 volunteers, printing of resource materials and the cost of attendance at a three-day international conference in Melbourne for two staff and three volunteers, including flights, accommodation, meals and registration fees. For years the hospice has battled with raising funds, mainly getting it through a shopfront outlet in Brisbane Street in Ipswich, flea markets and elsewhere. With limited funding it has had to rely upon Ipswich and West Moreton communities for financial support for the provision of palliative care.

In 1994, the Ipswich Hospice was officially opened by Bill Hayden, the Governor-General of Australia. In the years since, it has received state and government funding, but its categorisation of service has always been problematic for funding purposes. It gained accreditation through the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards and recognition by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and received a private hospital facility licence.

In 2001 the hospice bereavement support program won the NAB CommunityLink award for best volunteer health program. In 2003 the soon-to-be Governor-General and former Governor of Queensland, and my old administrative law lecturer, Quentin Bryce, opened the Hilda des Arts Community Centre. Hilda was a wonderful community worker who was well received in her adopted home of Ipswich. What she did for Ipswich was incalculable in terms of its community.

The hospice enjoyed a hospice week from 18 May to 24 May, which has raised community awareness of this vital service. It held its annual Celebration of Life Event on 21 May at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Ipswich. It also held its Charity Greyhound Night at the Ipswich Greyhound Club and its Family Fun Day—all as part of the National Palliative Care Week.

I am pleased to support Ipswich Hospice and its mission to provide high standard care for terminally ill people and their families and those who are bereaving in Ipswich and West Moreton communities. I commend the service provided and thank the Rudd government for the financial support for the Ipswich Hospice care.