Hospice care is one of those services that does not usually attract big headlines.
Its staff and volunteers work with unassuming skill and kindness to relieve the suffering of the terminally ill and of their surrounding family and loved ones.
Hospice care workers deal with what is surely one of the most difficult taboos in our society — death.
But this week we are happy to shine a light on the good work of hospice care and to help Palliative Care Australia.
We are also happy to help spread the message that talking about death is an important step towards improving the quality of life for those nearing the end.
In Shepparton we are fortunate to have the skills and selfless commitment of those involved in Goulburn Valley Hospice Care.
It is a remarkable organisation on several levels.
It is run by a voluntary committee of management elected from the incorporated association.
Its patient care volunteers are recruited, trained and supported locally.
Its services are free and care is provided 24 hours, seven days a week.
As well, a grief and bereavement counsellor is available either on the phone or face-to-face. Family members have access to the bereavement program for 12 months, or longer, with access to special counselling services if required.
All this is delivered free in our city to those going through the darkest times of their lives.
Over the years GV Hospice Care has had a deep impact on our community, which is reflected in the amount of support offered through Friends of Hospice, and annual fundraisers such as the Fruit Loop Bike Ride, the Car Rally and Baking from The Heart.
The organisation’s most visible community presence is of course its vibrant and newly upgraded op-shop in Fryers St.
As we have said, palliative care is a service not normally the subject of news headlines, let alone a subject of public discussion.
Yet, about 160000 Australians will die each year with about 120000 in need of palliative care.
Most of us at some stage will be affected by this statistic, yet many of us do not understand the benefits or the workings of palliative care.
This week presents a chance to find out more about this vital service.
Yet, it is more than a service — it is a deeply human ritual.
To ease the passage of a human life from one stage to the next and then to offer comfort to those left behind must be one of the most indispensable consolations offered in any society.
We thank all those who deliver this in our community with such commitment, care and sensitivity.