Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme
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Marj Salter – reflections on the Volunteer Conference

Marj Salter volunteers with the SWSLHD Palliative Care Volunteer Service.

On Friday, 29th May, many of the Palliative Care Volunteers from SSWAHS made the pilgrimage to the spectacularly beautiful and serene Nan Tien Temple at Wollongong.  The day began with the option of crunchy croissants, tea and coffee together with other breakfast delights.  We felt privileged and excited to mingle with other volunteers from far and wide around NSW and to hear and learn from the well credentialed guest speakers who each delivered exceptional, insightful and at times provocative presentations.  I think we were all challenged and inspired by their idealism and commitment.  None more than the Lord Mayor of Wollongong Gordon Bradbury an ordained Minister, who animatedly delivered his philosophy including exploring the future to include more contemporary theories “There are no certainties, this we should acknowledge” and about where we came from and where we may end up “we are star dust’.  He was extremely inspirational and animated in his delivery.  Welcome to Country was thoroughly and empathetically covered by Aunty Bev Armer, Local Elder, giving insight into Aboriginal heritage, death and dying or “Finishing up” as they refer to it.

Both Professor John Kearsley and Dr Michael Barbato gave remarkable and thoughtful presentations on the “Enigma of Compassionate Care” and “Midwifing Death” which included some simple yet touching stories as examples to inspire us as we learn and grow.  Mary Ashton from Calvary Hospice at Kogarah gave us an opportunity to remember ‘acts of kindness’ that we had either witnessed or been a part of, subsequently there were multiple hand written ‘post it’ notes placed around the room as witness to the kindness we all share or have observed as volunteers.  Michael Dash then shared an insight into Bereavement Counselling and Mindfulness which was very helpful and difficult at the same time.

Throughout the day we had the opportunity to indulge in hand massages, tai chi classes, walking meditation (uphill and tough), a tea ceremony in the meditation room, raffles with great prizes and information on nourishing ourselves for the journey that we embark on together followed by the ringing of the Ancestry Bell for the closing ritual.

It was a wonderful day for which we thank the generosity of the South Western Sydney Local Health District for their investment in their Palliative Care Volunteers.  A Big thank-you to Arlene Roache for transporting several of the volunteers and for her usual dedicated effort on behalf of our patients and the volunteers.

The line of the day by Prof Kearsley  “Volunteers do not get paid not because they are worthless but because they are priceless”

Marj Salter

SWSLHD Palliative Care Volunteer

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