Advocating for better access to palliative care

Palliative Care Victoria

In the lead up to the introduction of voluntary assisted dying legislation to the Victorian Parliament, we created an advocacy strategy and a compelling campaign to highlight the need for more government funding to improve community access to palliative care.

Palliative Care Victoria (PCV) is the peak body representing palliative care and other relevant health services and health professionals, patients, carers and people with an interest in palliative care. PCV asked Fenton to help them increase awareness of the vital role of palliative care for Victoria’s growing, ageing community and mobilise support for an increase in government funding for the sector.

A key challenge for the campaign was the low public awareness about what palliative care does and how it helps people. Those who have experience palliative care services, or know someone who has, are often its most passionate advocates. Outside this group many are confused about palliative care, assuming it is only for old people, or people in their last days of life. The public debate about the potential legalisation of euthanasia in Victoria had also fuelled the notion that support for palliative care meant opposition to euthanasia.

We worked with PCV to develop a campaign targeting members of parliament, service providers and the general public. We planned a range of tailored correspondence and follow-up presentations with MPs in key areas. At the same time we ran a range of emotive ads on social media and mounted an online petition to engage supporters. We also created a supporter kit of social content for service providers to share campaign messages through their networks.

To engage media on the campaign, we commissioned new research to test community attitudes to palliative care and the need for a funding increase. We targeted metropolitan print and radio, local print and radio and online news sites.

Our advocacy strategy and campaign helped raise public awareness of the need for more equitable and timely access to palliative care. Online, the combined impact of advertising, stakeholder support and a petition resulted in significant increases in engagement and followers for PVC.

Following the campaign both the Victorian Government and Opposition made commitments to increase funding for palliative care.