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A new toolkit has been launched to support Australian entry-to-practice health students to develop the knowledge and skills needed to provide safe and culturally responsive care for Australian Indigenous peoples facing life-limiting illnesses.

The toolkit, Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illnesses, was unveiled today on National Close the Gap Day by Palliative Care Curriculum for Undergraduates (PCC4U), a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) led initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to develop graduate capabilities in palliative care.

Nicole Hewlett, National Indigenous Project Manager from the QUT School of Nursing, worked with PCC4U to ensure culturally safe resources were developed and delivered.

She said the new toolkit formed part of the PCC4U curriculum for educators and health and aged care providers, and would bring greater awareness to inequity.

“Given the history, trauma and current experiences of racism in healthcare, it can be particularly difficult for Australian Indigenous peoples to talk about the kind of care and support they would like as they age or become seriously ill,” Ms Hewlett said.

“As a result, most communities are not receiving the best quality of care and support while they live with chronic illness at the end of life. This can have a profound effect on both the sick person and their loved ones’ experience during this end-of-life journey.”

Ms Hewlett, a Palawa woman from Lutruwita (Tasmania), said the toolkit had not just been redeveloped, but decolonised.

“Resources are often written about us, without us, which means our voice is lacking along with true knowledge and education,” she said.

“The toolkit has been decolonised and built again from the ground up on foundations of the sovereign spirit of our people.”

PCC4U project lead and executive dean of the QUT Faculty of Health, Professor Patsy Yates, said the toolkit would help support entry-to-practice students to provide holistic, safe and culturally responsive care.

“This toolkit has been designed to educate students about the important role they play in breaking down the access barriers to mainstream healthcare experienced by Australian Indigenous peoples,” Professor Yates said.

“Through education, health students are provided with opportunities to reflect on a living and flexible model of service delivery and health policy and consider how their practice may support this.

“The inclusion of video resources exploring real life stories provides opportunities for students to full engage and contextualise the learning.”

The Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illness toolkit and learning resources are free to use, and accessible here