Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations

Advance care planning can help to ensure that the end-of-life wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons are met according to their values and preferences for care.

Before starting the conversation about advance care planning, consider the following points:

  • These conversations should be routine between all Australians. Some Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people will not see a necessity to draw up an end-of-life plan due to sensitivities around issues of death. You can talk to a Hospital Aboriginal Liaison Officer or the person's family members for help where possible.
  • In all settings, health professionals must acknowledge the beliefs and practices of people who differ from them in age, occupation or social class, ethnic background, sex, sexuality, religious belief and disability. Be careful not to impose your beliefs on someone else.
  • Hospitals and other mainstream services may be seen as being run by white authority according to 'white' rules. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people may approach these services with apprehension - help the person feel at ease within the setting.

  • Respect and decency must be the basis for mutual consideration that makes learning from each other and working together possible.
  • Be understanding and leave attitudes, assumptions and negative values at the door. Remember to be culturally sensitive and develop communication techniques that build trust.
  • For example you could start the conversation in a round about way, plant the seed and observe if the idea is accepted.
  • Do not be intrusive. Come back at another time to continue the conversation. Respect the patients' right not to disclose or communicate.

More information

More resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations

  • Articles & Publications

    Taking control of your health journey

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    A publication for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people stepping through advance care planning, palliative care, the benefits and steps to take.
  • Articles & Publications

    Advance care planning with Aboriginal and Torres Islander people

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    This resource aims to help healthcare professionals improve awareness of issues around advance care planning in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Articles & Publications

    Dying to Talk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Starter

    Dying to Talk

    If you become so sick that you couldn’t talk, your family and health worker may need to make decisions for you. This discussion starter can guide you through the conversation.
  • Website

    Resources for specific needs: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people


    Find resources regarding palliative care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on the palliAGED website, gathered and maintained by CareSearch.
  • Website

    Resources: care at the end of life

    Queensland Government

    List of resources of care and at end-of-life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, multicultural health, and palliative care.