Tuesday, 23 May 2023
Capricornia Electorate: Fitzroy Community Hospice
In 2021, a small group of enthusiastic Rockhampton locals came to me with a vision for providing the first hospice in regional Queensland. Their vision through lived experiences of caring for a loved one with a terminal illness was to create a fully holistic palliative care service in Rockhampton. The service will not only provide those dying with a sense of dignity and compassion but will also ensure their families and friends are supported from a number of services after their death. From the inspiration of what the central Queensland community needed, Fitzroy Community Hospice was born. Those living in regional and rural Australia know all too well how limited the services are where they live. Many know the anguish they go through in making the difficult decision to move their loved ones into a hospital setting for their final days.
Of the nine hospices in Queensland, there is not one facility north of Hervey Bay. On average, 160,000 Australians pass each year and many do not have an end-of-life care plan which fully reflects their physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Hospice care costs 40 per cent less than care provided in a public hospital setting. It will also ease the pressure on emergency departments and wards face to provide the care those need in their final weeks and days.
From my own experience of losing a loved one, I understand all too well the importance of how great the need is for a comprehensive community based palliative care service. Recognising the benefit for the central Queensland community as well as pressure needing to be eased on the health system, it brought me to lobby the coalition government for its support of this great cause. It was my absolute pleasure to announce in August 2021 that I had secured $8 million for the Fitzroy Community Hospice. Two years later, the Fitzroy Community Hospice vision is coming to life at the site of the decommissioned convent in Rockhampton. Demolition, excavation and underground services are complete, with work underway on footings, retaining walls and renovation of retained buildings. The building of the centre is expected to be completed by 2024. The Fitzroy Community Hospice will consist of a purpose-built, 12-bed hospice centre with a peaceful and homelike setting. Patients, families and carers will also have access to social, cultural and emotional support services, along with pastoral care. Care and support services will be provided at no cost to the community and will be available for those with a life-limiting illness, not just cancer.
The entire Central Queensland community has rallied around this project—many have raised funds, donated and volunteered their expertise on the board to get the hospice off the ground and operational. However, without the dedication and passion of board members Steve and Debbie Richards, and Dr Vicki Richmond, who spearheaded the project, Central Queensland would be years away from receiving a service as critical as this. On behalf of all Central Queenslanders, we thank you for your tireless effort in providing the community with such an important piece of infrastructure.