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Creating Compassionate Communities: Building Death Literacy

June 7-8, 2018  |  Figtree Conference Centre, Olympic Park, Sydney

Compassionate Communities is a whole of community approach to end of life support where caring for one another at times of need, loss and/or crisis becomes the task and responsibility of everyone.

At the heart of this movement for change, is the adoption of a whole of community approach where formal care provision and informal support networks come together to provide support for people who are dying and grieving. 

This two day conference will bring together individuals and groups working at the threshold of innovation in the health space and in community initiatives  and who wish to develop the critical awareness and skills in:

  • Community engagement and community development
  • Social networks and capacity building
  • Partnerships and collaboration
  • Evaluating change

To make the most of your learning and networking, we encourage you to register for both days of the conference.

Who is the conference for?

Death literacy conferences bring together an eclectic mix of people from palliative care, primary health, funeral services, celebrants, end of life doulas, care workers, chaplains, as well as researchers and policy makers.

The Program

Please note

***Day 2 is now sold out and there are only limited tickets available for day 1***


Keynote Speakers

Prof Debbie Horsfall

Prof Debbie Horsfall

Dr Julian Abel

Dr Julian Abel

Barbara Gale

Barbara Gale

Prof Merryn Gott

Prof Merryn Gott


Stefan Hunt

Anna Collins

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Elham Day


Venue Information

The Venue: Figtree Conference Centre - 5 Figtree Drive, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127


The Figtree Conference Center is found at heart of Sydney Olympic Park, there is free on-site parking and easy access to public transport. It is also within walking distance of the hotels and restaurants around the Olympic Park precinct.

Figtree is a venue with a social conscience, an enterprise that employs people with a lived experience of mental health issues.  The GroundSwell Project is excited about using the Figtree Conference Centre for our event and we recognise and acknowledge our shared values of a supported and supportive community.


Conference overview

Day 1: Thursday June 7th

9.00 Arrive and register

9.30 Masterclasses commence

4.30 Masterclasses end

5:00   - 6:30pm launch of the State of Play of Death Literacy in Australia - a special event. RSVP Jessie[at]

Day 2: Friday June 8th

8.00am Arrive and register

8.45am Welcome

Jessie Williams, Executive Director,   The GroundSwell Project

MC Kerry Graham, CEO, Collaboration for Impact

9.00 - 9.30am Prof Debbie Horsfall: Death literacy: Everyone's talking about it and that's a blessing and a curse!

9.30 - 10.00am Anna CollinsShifting community understandings of palliative care: How can we transform experiences of care within health systems?

10.00 - 10.30am Stefan HuntFear Less. Live More. We’re All Going To Die. 

10.30 - 11am Break

11.00 - 12.30pm: Concurrent Sessions

Room 1: Working with communities around death and loss

Room 2: Staying connected- compassionate communities in residential aged care

Room 3: Mobilising the community - The Tender Funeral model

Room 4: Naturally occurring supportive networks at end of life - mapping and enhancement

12.30 - 1.15pm lunch

1.15 - 1.45pm Dr Julian AbelPalliative care - the new essentials. 

1.45 - 2.15pm Prof Merryn GottUnderstanding and strengthening families in their end of life caregiving work: the New Zealand experience

2.15 - 3.15pm: Concurrent Sessions

Room 1: Healthy End of Life Project (HELP); Creating a collaborative community culture at the end of life

Room 2: Public Health Palliative Care in Primary Health

Room 3: Making a Festival of Death and Dying

Room 4: Writing Loss

3.15 - 3.30 Break

3.30 - 4.00pm Barbara Gale: Volunteering in community: Re-thinking rules and boundaries in palliative care

4.00 - 4.45pm Elham DayDesegregating Deathcare : Innovation or Invocation?

4.45 - 5.00pm Closing remarks and drinks.