Going the extra mile in Maitland

  • by Kate Bowman
  • September 12, 2023

Volunteers for Palliative Care in Maitland have been around since 1990. Their volunteers offer companionship, respite for carers, and transport to appointments for the people in their community facing life-limiting illnesses, and are renowned locally for the care and dedication shown to their clients.

Recently the service has been prominent in the local media, spreading information about their service and looking to recruit new volunteers after interruptions to service due to COVID left them operating at less than capacity.

Volunteers for Palliative Care chairperson Ross Iles said their organisation’s difference is the way the volunteers care for their clients. While their volunteers engage in a range of activities, companionship is the most valuable.

“It’s just companionship in that time of need,” he said “We have trained volunteers doing the transport, so while they’re transporting these people, they’re actually their companion. They’re not just a driver who takes them and says off you go to have your radiation I’ll see you later.

“One of the blokes even takes them to McDonalds at Hexham on the way back. Another volunteer said one day she just took her client down to the river and they sat and looked at the river for an hour. It brought back memories.”

Hunter community radio station 2NURFM has recently featured a couple of interviews with volunteers Kate McLaughlin and Beth Fowler from the service, and how volunteers support people with life-limiting illnesses and with loss and grief. Volunteers are caring and compassionate people. A big part of the role is providing respite care so family members can have some time out for themselves.

Kate McLaughlin talks about the great satisfaction she gets from her volunteering, because the results are so tangible. She has been very moved by her experiences in volunteering, connecting with patients, getting to know the family, forming bonds, and enjoying the companionship and company.

Beth Fowler, volunteer, board member, and trained chaplain became interested in grief and loss after feeling the loss of her father many years ago.

“If you can bring comfort to the dying, it is a very rewarding place to be,” she says, “The big trick is learning to listen beyond what the person is saying.”

You can listen to their interviews here:

Kate McLaughlin (8:35 min)


Beth Fowler (2:00 min)


If you have some spare time and think you might be a good fit for this kind if activity, Volunteers for Palliative Care are looking for volunteers.  Right now they have volunteer positions available doing companionship, transport, and fundraising.

Next year they are planning to expand their service to include biography volunteers and a grief group to support people who have been through a palliative care journey with a loved one. For more information check out their website or contact them on 0459 712 725.

Main photo: Volunteers for Palliative Care volunteers (L-R) Bev Peachman, Beth Fowler, Henry Zysek and Jenny Cridland

Upcoming Events

NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteers – September meeting
  • SEPTEMBER 12, 2024
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2024 Volunteer Managers Conference
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Palliative Care New South Wales is the peak body in NSW representing palliative care providers and those with an interest in palliative care. Palliative Care New South Wales is a member of the national peak body Palliative Care Australia.

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