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South Sudanese clergy and community leaders discuss death, dying and palliative services


(left)  Rev Deacon George P Meat,
South Sudanese Catholic Community Chaplain
(right) Rev Tut Wan Yoa,
All Nations Presbyterian Church, Mulgrave

Gaining new insights

Palliative Care Victoria gained new insights from recent discussions with members of two South Sudanese communities in metropolitan Melbourne.

Reflections on personal experience of palliative care

“My uncle was looked after by palliative care staff last year, before he died,” said community leader, Matthew, from St.Andrew’s Parish in Werribee. “He was well cared for.”

Elisabeth, a church leader, commented: “I work in aged care as a nurse and I know how to care for people at the end of their life. But I did not know about the practical support and equipment available for home care”.

How palliative care can help

Through hospitals and hospices, individuals in the community receive palliative care at the end of life. Little however is known about how palliative care services support the family members.

For these communities it is less common for an individual to die at home. Families are not as familiar with the many benefits palliative care offers through its home-based services and whole-of-family approach. Counselling, physiotherapy, advice about medical and legal matters, managing funeral costs, etc were mentioned as important family needs at end of life.

Conversations about death and dying

But how does the conversation begin? “Speaking about death and dying to the older generation is difficult in our community”, said another leader from the Sudanese community in Werribee. “Our people are superstitious about speaking of death.”

Not so with this group of church leaders: when asked, “If they had a choice, how would they like to die?” most replied that they would prefer not to die suddenly, so that they could spend time with family and friends before the end.

The education session on palliative care services in Mulgrave was organised by Palliative Care Victoria in collaboration with Rev.Tut Wan Yoa, from the All Nations Presbyterian Church, (Nuer speaking) and attended by three other community leaders.

The session in Werribee was also organised in collaboration with Richard Deng, Rev Deacon George Piech Meat, South Sudanese Catholic Community Chaplain and other catechists and elders from St. Andrew’s Catholic Church (Dinka and Arabic speaking).

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