Passion, selflessness and dedication in the shadow of COVID-19


During the past year, we’ve published stories that reflect the huge efforts of clinicians, practitioners and researchers, from both individuals and organisations, from Europe and beyond. Today, we hear how the 2021 Oceanic Palliative Care Conference marked the contribution of Australian palliative care staff and volunteers.

Our guest writer today is Camilla Rowland, CEO, of Palliative Care Australia, the national peak organisation for palliative care in Australia.

Camilla Rowland

It’s a familiar refrain at all award nights; recognition of not just of the winners, but of all those nominated.

And in a vocation, such as palliative care, even more so; with that acknowledgement commonly extended to all in the sector.

But this year, at the 2021 National Palliative Care Awards evening held in the shadow of Australia’s escalating battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, that sentiment carried a far greater poignancy and significance.

The Awards are held every two years and recognise the innovation, teamwork, and emerging talent in Australia’s palliative care sector.

Speaking at the Awards Evening on Tuesday 7 September, Palliative Care Australia’s (PCA) Joint Patrons, His Excellency, General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley extended their appreciation to ‘an amazing group of people’.

“To the carers and clinicians, and to the nurses, researchers and therapists – we say, thank you. This is a noble vocation. Your care, compassion and kindness are valued and admired. And never more so than today, as we deal with the pandemic.”

It was a sentiment echoed the following day by PCA Chair, Professor Meera Agar when delivering her opening address at the 2021 Oceanic Palliative Care Conference (21OPCC) – see video below.

With much of Australia finding itself in lockdown or threatened with that prospect, Professor Agar noted COVID-19’s devastating impact on the way we work and our way of life. Even the circumstances in which we die or grieve the loss of our loved ones.

Professor Agar said it is important that in any given year we acknowledge the passion, selflessness, and dedication of all Australians engaged in the palliative care sector, and even more so in the pandemic.

“All of us here today recognise that palliative care is a vocation like no other. In short, everyone among us is deserving of recognition.

“I would like to thank you all for your ongoing contribution, your tireless efforts to serve your patients, their families, your services, organisations and institutions, your colleagues, in the most difficult and at times, unimaginable circumstances.”

PCA received a record number of nominations for the Awards this year, demonstrating the outstanding service and commitment of the palliative care sector during these challenging times.

The Awards night, like the Oceanic Palliative Care Conference this year, was held online.

And while the virtual setting delivery may have been different, the energy and enthusiasm of the winners who accepted their awards on the night was palpable.

Congratulations to the following winners!

Team – Innovation in Palliative Care


Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service (Paediatric Palliative Care Service)
Team – Outstanding Teamwork Award Dungog Shire Palliative Care Volunteers Inc.
Individual – Emerging Leader Dr Graham Grove
Individual – Emerging Researcher Dr Claudia Virdun
Individual – Excellence in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Palliative Care Cheryl Porter-Pedras


Individual – Excellence in Generalist Palliative Care Dr Jonathan Ramachenderan


Individual – Excellence in Palliative Care – Community Based Care Dr Paula Moffat


Individual – Excellence in Palliative Care – Paediatric Palliative Care Associate Professor John Collins


Individual – Excellence in Palliative Care – Rural and Remote Robyn Ellis


Individual – Excellence in Palliative Care in an Aged Care Setting Yasothiny Yogarajah
Individual – Outstanding Achievement by a Volunteer Keri Wassenaar


21OPCC on-demand content

Do you know a colleague or friend who would benefit from experiencing 21OPCC?
The good news is that they still have the opportunity to watch all the thought-provoking and engaging activities from 21OPCC by registering for the post-conference on-demand content. Click here to register.

Links and resources

Editor’s note: We welcome more stories from Australia… If you’d like to contribute to the blog, please view our Contributors’ Guidelines here.

EXPLORE NEW DIMENSIONS at #EAPC2021. The EAPC 17th World Congress Online offers interactive online sessions from 6 to 8 October 2021, an entire day dedicated to Paediatric Palliative Care and a selection of pre-congress sessions on 5 October.

  • Register for the congress here. (Up to 25% discount for EAPC members)
  • View the live scientific programme here.
  • Enter the Science Slam here.
  • Enjoy lots of on-demand content from 27 September until 31 January 2022.
  • Get a sneak peek of presentations in the World Congress series on the blog.
  • Follow latest congress news @EAPCvzw #EAPC2021 and via the EAPC blog.


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