In 1996 the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services (DH&FS), on behalf of the
Australian Health Ministers Conference, undertook a review of the Commonwealth funded
Palliative Care Program (PCP) The first stage of this review examined outcomes and effectiveness
of the PCP and looked at the appropriateness of current palliative care services in Australia, at the
same time seeking to identify gaps in current palliative care servicing arrangements.
These issues were examined by Dr Draginja Kasap. Kasaps investigation into bereavement
services led her to conclude that, while bereavement support is accepted as a feature of palliative
care service provision, its provision is somewhat inconsistent both within States and Territories and
generally across the country. The level and type of bereavement support activities were found to
be extremely varied, with bereavement support being offered for the most part as follow-up contact
with family and carers, and referral to appropriate professionals for expert advice.
In the light of these findings, Kasap suggested that the then Australian Association for Hospice and
Palliative Care could be approached to facilitate a national study into current philosophies and
practices so as to develop some overall consensus and provide a basis for planning and ongoing
provision of services. Her recommendation to the Commonwealth was that the current provision
of bereavement services be further assessed in order to identify the basis for providing support to
carers and families, and meeting the specific service needs of those family members who require
professional counselling (Recommendation 4).
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