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Innovative Volunteer Projects

During 2013-2015, Palliative Care Victoria was funded by the Victorian government to support three palliative care services to develop and implement volunteer projects to build community capacity to deal with issues of death, dying and bereavement. The three projects used volunteers in novel ways to design and deliver the projects.

Making the last chapter reflect the whole book

This project was undertaken by Gippsland Lakes Community Health in collaboration with the Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consortium. The project team of staff and volunteers created a DVD featuring local people sharing their end of life plans and used this as part of a volunteer‐led interactive community session exploring how personal values in living can translate to end of life decision making.

Five volunteers were trained and piloted the resource by delivering eight community sessions to almost 200 people in Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale, Paynesville and Bruthen. Sessions were delivered to HAAC staff and volunteers, a senior citizens group, an RSL club, a Rotary club, and a gardening club. Project resources include a ten minute DVD and a comprehensive facilitators guide for volunteer presenters.

Gippsland Lakes Community Health and volunteers will continue to promote, schedule and deliver sessions under the auspice of that organisation.

The Schools Project

This project was undertaken by Calvary Health Care Bethlehem (CHCB) in partnership with Sacred Heart Girl’s College (SHGC) Oakleigh.  Following an experiential two-day immersion program in palliative care at CHCB, Year 10 students from SHGC produced art works in various media (painting, drawing, music and dance) which were exhibited at the Carbon Black Gallery and in several local council libraries.

The exhibition and additional narrative material were used to develop a DVD resource which became the backbone of a classroom death-education session delivered by seven trained volunteers to more than 180 local year ten students in 2015. CHCB will continue to support the program and volunteers to continue the sessions in 2016.

Pondering Mortality Project

The Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC) at Austin Health developed a volunteer-led project using creative arts to encourage participants to think about their mortality in small, volunteer-facilitated groups, and then share their insights with significant others. The project produced a DVD featuring stories about dying and death, regrets and loss based on presentations made at a Dying to Know Day event held at ONJCWC.

The volunteers facilitated two pilot groups who were shown the DVD and were then supplied with art materials which participants used to represent their reflections and share these with other participants. The artwork each participant produced could then be taken away and used to further the discussion with significant others.

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