Palliative Care Unit

The Palliative Care Unit (PCU) was established as a demonstration project in 1998 through funding from the Victorian Department of Human Services (now Department of Health).

The PCU provides health promotion education and training, community development, direct service and research for clinical palliative care and related service providers throughout Victoria.


The main teaching programs offered are:

Our staff

Our academic staff are dedicated and experienced experts in the field, committed to producing relevant research and strong student learning outcomes. They offer research supervision in the areas of:

  • health promoting palliative care
  • history and sociology of death, dying and loss
  • pastoral care and spiritual perspectives in palliative care
  • the social experiences of living with life-threatening illness

Research interests include:

  • Public health approach to end of life care
  • end-of-life policy
  • near-death experiences and visions
  • pastoral care and spirituality
  • social models of palliative care service delivery
  • loss, grief and bereavement
  • disenfranchised grief
  • non-compliance with medical treatments in life-threatening illness
  • social aspects of death, dying and mystical experiences
  • social experiences of living with cancer
  • the role of animal companions in chronic illness

Pallative Care Unit Newsletter

Social Networks is the national newsletter of an emerging national palliative care and public health network. Its purpose is to:

  • promote discussion
  • stimulate ideas about public health initiatives in palliative care
  • resource, support and equip those working at the interface between palliative care and public health.

The newsletter includes summaries of practice principles; reports of current projects from palliative care and public health services; news about grants and research possibilities; book reviews; information about relevant conferences and journal articles; and letters to the editor. The newsletter will be of interest to palliative care practitioners who want to develop links with their local community and community-based health care practitioners wishing to explore the implications of disability, death and loss for their work. Those working in both palliative care and community health settings will find the newsletter a significant resource.

Social Networks is published in March, July and November each year. It is free and is sent out electronically. Hard copies can be obtained from Publication Editor, details below. 

For contributing to, or for further details, please contact:

Frances Spain;
Publication Editor

La Trobe University Palliative Care Unit
215 Franklin St
Melbourne, Vic 3000
Ph: (03) 9479 8815