"It's a beautiful day by the river enjoying ourselves and each other," says Judy Hollingworth.
She's talking about the annual Manning Valley Push 4 Palliative (MVP4P) Garden Party at Bohnock. This year will be the fourth riverside garden party MVP4P has been held and the event, on Sunday May 19, marks the beginning of Palliative Care week.
A beautiful, fun and convivial day the garden party may be, but it is for an extremely serious cause.
In 2017 alone, MVP4P raised $16,000 at the garden party. Funds raised at the garden parties go toward gap funding people transitioning from hospital to home, to assist them in receiving home care services. It helps to provide specialised equipment in our region for people with palliative care needs.
"We work on the State government, to make sure they understand what the need is in our area and they understand it so well that they give us the right array of palliative care resources in the area," Judy says.
"It doesn't make sense that a small community like ours that doesn't have a lot of spare dollars, is funding its own palliative care through this community organisation. We raise funds out of the community and buy things for the community, but it's really inefficient."
And that's why MVP4P's main interest, at the moment, is advocating and striving to have a palliative care specialist employed in our area.
"It would make such a difference to the palliative care nursing practitioners already in the area and it would help all of the specialists and GPs in the area know what to do with their patients who need palliative care," Judy says.
It doesn't make sense that a small community like ours that doesn't have a lot of spare dollars, is funding its own palliative care through this community organisation.Judy Hollingworth, Manning Valley Push 4 Palliative
"If we had a full time palliative care specialist in the area it would make a lot of difference to how many people got palliative care, how soon, and what quality."
The need for palliative care resources is not going to go away any time soon. The Myall Lakes electorate has the highest proportion of people aged over 65, and that brings with it a higher rate of life-limiting illnesses, including dementias, heart disease, lung disease and cancers. And our ageing population is growing, meaning the need for palliative care resources grows along with it.
A press release from Palliative Care Australia stated "around 160,000 Australians die each year. But this number will double by 2040. It is estimated that between 50 and 90 per cent of Australians would benefit from palliative care once diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, yet only 40,000 are currently able to access specialist palliative care each year.
"We want people to understand we're doing this garden party on Saturday so the community really understands the need and comes together in all kinds of ways," Judy says.
"People are very willing to donate goods and services, local artists, at least six local artists are donating original works so that we can auction them and we can go on raising the funds to go on providing the necessary equipment."
The MVP4P Garden Party is being held at 57 Bohnock Road, Bohnock on Sunday, May 19 from 11am to 3pm.