A long-running program that is successfully addressing a humanitarian need for palliative care within the Asia Pacific region has won an Australian Award for University Teaching.
The Asia Pacific Palliative Care Program (APPCP) is delivered in Singapore as a partnership between Flinders University’s Department of Palliative and Supportive Services, the National Cancer Centre Singapore and the Asia Pacific Hospice Network.
Now its seventh year, the program has so far provided a rare opportunity for 108 students – from countries including China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Iran, Indonesia, Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Singapore – to gain specialist palliative care training.
At a ceremony last night in Canberra, Tertiary Education Minister, Senator Chris Evans presented the award to Flinders APPCP representatives in recognition of the program’s “outstanding contribution to the quality of student learning and student experience in higher education” which “sets a benchmark for similar programs”.
APPCP lecturer and team member, Dr Katrina Breaden said the program had contributed significantly to student learning and engagement by educating a sustainable workforce of health practitioners who have become courageous and passionate palliative care pioneers in their local communities.
“Opportunities for high quality education within the Asia Pacific region are few and the challenges for palliative care delivery are many,” Dr Breaden said.
“Not only is there a higher incidence of infections, trauma, HIV and cancers which are diagnosed late, resources are often scarce and services limited in the densely populated countries in the region,” she said.
“In about one third of these countries, there are no palliative care services at all. In addition, talking about death and dying is often a taboo subject; and there is a widespread fear of opioids.”
Professor Michael Kidd, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, congratulated the APPCP team on the award which, he said, recognises their consistently excellent teaching and high level of student engagement and satisfaction.
“The Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care program has had wide-ranging influence, as the comments and moving testimonials of the students demonstrate,” Professor Kidd said.
“The teaching practices of our exceptional staff must, in addition to cultural and linguistic differences, take into account the many challenges faced by the doctors, nurses, counsellors and other healthcare workers and volunteers who take part in the program,” he said.
“The students, too, are to be commended in their ongoing struggle to make pain relief more equitable in terms of cost and access in the Asia Pacific region.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber also praised the achievements of the APPCP team.
“Flinders University is committed to addressing the need for higher education within the region and this postgraduate palliative care program is an excellent example of this commitment,” Professor Barber said.
“Through its continued student enrolments, the program is influencing other higher education activities from Australia by providing a benchmark of excellence for teaching offshore,” he said.