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Special Interest Matter - Northern Hospice

Tuesday 18 October 2022, Special interest matter speech

[11.07 a.m.]

Ms. ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, today I am speaking about the important strides being made towards the construction of a northern hospice and the incredible work being done by the Friends of Northern Hospice group. The Friends of Northern Hospice have been advocating for a hospice for northern Tasmania for over 15 years, supported by vast swathes of northern Tasmanians who see the value and the need for a safe place in the north of the state to see out one's last days and weeks with dignity, comfort, respect and in proximity to loved ones.

That both the federal Liberal and Labor Party pledged $20 million in the lead-up to the election earlier this year says that the community takes the need for a hospice extremely seriously. Unfortunately, this is where it seems to have stopped. It is time for their dreams to become a reality. I am writing to our northern federal members to encourage them to pursue this hospice but I also ask our Premier and Minister for Health, the Honourable Jeremy Rockcliff, to lobby the federal government to act.

The hospice would also assist with bed block, by allowing those terminally ill to move to a more suitable facility.

For the past 15 years, the Friends of Northern Hospice have contemplated and constructed an idea of what the facility should look like, where it should be and what amenities it should contain. This comes from lengthy consultations with interested members of the community and medical professionals. Essentially, the facility should be located and configured around the needs of its clients and the community it serves. It should be easily accessible to the community, close to public transport, with dedicated public car parking for visitors and accessible car parking for visiting medical professionals, specialist nursing and other staff. Important to the Friends of Northern Hospice is the setting: safe, comfortable and with natural surroundings; a place for respite and for friends and loved ones to meet; with handicapped accessibility; and a place for overnight stays. The hospice should also have a capacity for a minimum of one bed per 10 000 people within the northern catchment area.

The site previously selected and preferred by the Friends of Northern Hospice is the Allambi Building on the corner of Howick and Mulgrave streets in Launceston. This property was originally the infectious diseases hospital set in the heritage listed garden that remains intact. The proximity of this property to the LGH, and the heritage listed grounds with onsite car parking, makes it ideal for the hospice.

The Friends of Northern Hospice also have a number of design principles which should inform the construction and operation of the facility. These include: a natural setting overlooking gardens; ready access to the garden with graded paths; good solar access; access to shade; possible water feature; close to nature, birds et cetera; the elements, including natural heat, cooling and fresh air; bedrooms with direct access to outside to a verandah and, in turn, to the gardens; as well as wheelchair access to the gardens. Also, easy access to dedicated car park and public transport; secure perimeter fence providing protection to residents and the public; communal space shared by visitors and clients, both internal and external. In addition, a building style that is non-institutional, supports visitation, encourages respectfulness, while supporting informal interaction, supports whole family visitation, spending time together - including pets - with play spaces for children, accommodation that supports overnight stays in a dignified setting. Comfort, dignity, robustness and economy, and beauty.

Few people like to contemplate it, but none of us will be in this world forever. For those of us who are afforded the time to get affairs together and to say our goodbyes, a hospice makes that transition much easier. It gives people access to support, respite and care. We are long past due for a northern hospice and I acknowledge the tenacity, the thoughtfulness and the hard work of the Friends of Northern Hospice over these last 15 years. We now have the opportunity to construct this important facility and we need to make sure that we do it with the needs and the desires of the community in mind. I look forward to seeing this vital project progress.


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