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Palliative care

Palliative care for young people

Page last updated: January 2024

The information on this webpage has been adapted from Understanding Palliative Care - A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends (2023 edition). This webpage was last updated in January 2024.

Expert content reviewers:

This information was developed with help from Palliative Care Australia and is based on the National Palliative Care Strategy 2018. We thank the reviewers of this booklet:

  • Prof Meera Agar, Palliative Care Physician, Professor of Palliative Medicine, University of Technology Sydney, IMPACCT, Sydney, NSW
  • Anne Booms, Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care, Icon Cancer Centre Midlands, WA
  • Nicola Champion, Consumer
  • John Clements, Consumer
  • Dr Alexandra Clinch, Palliative Medicine Specialist and Deputy Director, Palliative Care, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC
  • A/Prof Jaklin Eliott, School of Public Health, University of Adelaide, SA
  • Dr Jemma Gilchrist, Clinical Psychologist, Mind My Health, NSW
  • McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC
  • Caitlin MacDonagh, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Palliative Care, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW
  • Dr Roya Merie, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Concord, NSW
  • Dr Deidre Morgan, Research Centre for Palliative Care, Death and Dying, Flinders University, SA
  • Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA

Palliative care for babies, children and teenagers focuses on maintaining quality of life by managing their physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs, and supporting the family.

Palliative care for young people is provided by health professionals who specialise in the care of children (paediatrics), as well as palliative care experts.

It considers the young person’s stage of development, their understanding of their illness and their ability to make decisions.

Most children’s hospitals have specialist paediatric palliative care teams. Family are considered part of the palliative care team. Depending on needs and availability, palliative care may be at home, in hospital or in a children’s palliative care unit.

Talking to kids about cancer

Speaking with children, teenagers and young adults about cancer can feel overwhelming. As a parent, grandparent or carer, your first reaction may be to keep the news from them or to delay telling them.

Even though it can be difficult, research shows that being open and honest helps children cope with the cancer diagnosis.

Learn more

Support for young people

There are a number of organisations that specifically support young people with cancer and their families by providing palliative care, financial assistance, counselling, resources and respite care, including:

The hospital social worker can also provide support and share useful networks in your local community. You can also call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.

Understanding Palliative Care

Download our Understanding Palliative Care booklet to learn more

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