About us

The Public Health Palliative Care Unit (PHPCU) emphasises the importance of developing whole of life responses to this universal issue of human mortality.

Our mission is to re-engage local communities as active partners in providing end of life care and supporting end of life decision-making.

Our public health orientation means that, in addressing this strategic direction, we aim to:

  • develop capacity around assets rather than perceived problems
  • ensure these community and organisational capacities are sustainable
  • advocate for vulnerable populations, recognising that disability, social exclusion and discrimination are all social determinants of health
  • promote the participation of those who use services as well as those who provide them
  • enable community members to take a key role in caring for their dying
  • develop the evidence needed to support policy change.

Our history

We were established in 1998 as a demonstration project in public health approaches to palliative care. The Victorian Department of Human Services (now Department of Health and Human Services) provided initial funding and this was renewed in 2001.

The PHPCU began with a commitment to:

  • education and training
  • service provision (the Life Support program was the first such initiative) and
  • research in end of life care.

At all times, we’ve:

  • provided tertiary education at La Trobe University
  • offered training to Victorian palliative care services and community organisations
  • engaged in direct service in partnership with end of life care providers in Victoria
  • conducted research into end of life care needs and social responses to those needs.

Our current focus is building capacity for end of life care outside the health system, most recently with the disability sector, and particularly within local councils in partnership with the Municipal Association of Victoria.