The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Chair in Palliative Medicine Research Professor David Kissane AC (1968) has been awarded a $1.06-million grant from the Australian Department of Health.

Professor Kissane, the Parade College Captain through the Bundoora campus’s historic opening year of 1968, is the recipient of the funding for a new project entitled: “Education and assessment for psychosocial and existential wellbeing in palliative care”.

Part of the Public Health and Chronic Disease Program, this collaborative National Palliative Care Project aimed at improving the quality of palliative care service delivery in Australia will be led by Professor Kissane in partnership with the Cunningham Palliative Care Research Centre at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.

“Currently, patients with unrecognised depression, unaddressed demoralisation and unabating anxiety account for the most vulnerable patients in palliative care, with limited access to skilled staff to offer support and evidence-based management,” said Professor Kissane, in a statement released by the university.

“These patients are in dire need of treatment to help them adjust and to prevent suicidal thinking, yet the effective medication and counselling options available remain underutilised in palliative care.”

The education and knowledge translation project Professor Kissane will lead over the next three years has two objectives:

1. To identify patients who may have psycho-existential needs through the routine use of an assessment tool; and

2. To roll out online and face-to-face educational workshops to train and upskill clinicians (nurses, physicians, psychosocial health providers) about how to explore and discuss psycho-existential

symptoms, treat them or refer patients to where they can get help.

“Most people would be surprised to find that unrecognised psycho-existential suffering accounts for as many hospital admissions and extended lengths of stay as unmanaged physical symptoms,” Professor Kissane said.

“The assessment and management model our project group would be implementing seeks to intervene early, prevent hospitalisation, relieve suffering and enhance quality-of-life for patients nearing the end of their lives.”

This project will be run in collaboration with organisations around the country, including St Vincent’s in Brisbane and Sydney, Calvary palliative care services in New South Wales, Tasmania and ACT, Cabrini Health and Monash in Victoria, St John of God Health Care services in Western Australia, Top End Services in Darwin and Flinders University services in South Australia.

In May 2018, Professor Kissane returned to Parade to accept the Association's Distinguished Old Paradian Award, 50 years after he completed his final year of schooling.

After accepting the award from the College's then Deputy Principal Andy Kuppe (1983), Professor Kissane delivered a keynote address to the more than 1900 students who had gathered for Term Two Assembly in College Hall.

Professor Kissane’s address chronicled the career path he has taken in psycho-oncology and palliative medicine as an educator, researcher, author and clinician, and through executive roles with a range of national and international professional medical bodies.

“As I look back on the past fifty years, there can be no doubt that Parade equipped me beautifully for the many changes that unfold across one’s career, in my case in medicine and psychiatry,” Professor Kissane said at the time.

“I have been delighted to return to Parade 50 years after I last stood among your ranks, to tell you something of the gifts that Parade gave me, and of how I have acquitted myself since that time. I will leave you to judge whether I have upheld the traditions, but I have long had a sense of being blessed by God, and of having been fortunate to have received my secondary education in the Edmund Rice tradition from Parade College.”