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Death and dying 101 - calls made for end of life education to be included in curriculum

Students across Queensland could soon be learning about death and dying in the classroom if action is taken following new calls from the state’s peak medical and palliative care organisations.

The AMA and Palliative Care Queensland are calling for death education to be brought to schools (Source: Shutterstock)
The AMA and Palliative Care Queensland are calling for death education to be brought to schools (Source: Shutterstock)

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) Queensland and Palliative Care Queensland have come together to share their support for death education to be brought to classrooms across the state in an attempt to “demystify the process”.

AMA Queensland Chair of General Practice Dr Richard Kidd says that it is an important issue because the onus of end of life care is increasingly being put on the next generations, given that the number of people aged over 65 is growing at a faster rate than younger age groups.

“Young people need to be educated about medical, legal and other issues that surround ageing and dying so they are capable of making informed choices when the time comes,” Dr Kidd says.

“More than any other generation, they will need to understand Advance Care Plans where their loved ones decide how they want care to be delivered at the end of their lives.

“Young people will also need to know how to make a will.

“Including these sorts of issues or death education in science, legal studies, health and other school subjects will help build this understanding.”

Dr Kidd says the ability to learn about ageing and the process of dying in an educational forum would also prevent young people from adopting their parents’ anxieties and concerns about the issue.

“In many families, death is a bit of a taboo topic that only gets discussed at crisis points [and] death education at school would help remove any stigma,” he says.

Palliative Care Queensland Chief Executive Officer Shyla Mills has also shared her support of the introduction of death education in schools saying it would also assist young people to become more resilient about loss, ageing, dying and grief.

“They will be far more likely to be involved in the dying process of their relatives, work colleagues and friends than previous generations,” she explains.

“They will need to be very resilient, more compassionate and develop a positive, proactive approach to death.

“While there is pressure on educators to add more material into the school curriculum, death is our only 100 percent guarantee in life and the effects of our ageing population will be felt most by those at school today.”

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