Personal stories of grief and insights on the role of communities in helping people cope with the end-of-life journey will be shared in a forum in Bunbury on Saturday 7 August.

The South West Compassionate Communities Network, chaired by Palliative Care Professor Samar Aoun (Perron Institute and La Trobe University) is hosting this event.

“The forum brings together community members, health and community service providers, local government, researchers and policy makers to share best-practice examples and hear from national and international speakers,” Professor Aoun said.

“It will provide guidance on how to: grow a compassionate community; build partnerships with palliative care and other health services and local government; develop a compassionate city charter; and expand the community role in supporting the bereaved.

“Forum attendees will hear from national and international speakers who are leading the way in mobilising community members to volunteer and better support people who are caring, dying and grieving.

“They will be given the knowledge, skills and resources needed to establish compassionate communities,” Professor Aoun said.

“Compassionate Communities, an international movement, recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not just a task for health and social services – it is everyone’s responsibility.

“Research has shown that when a person is seriously ill, they spend 10 per cent of their time with formal providers (health professionals), and 90 per cent of their time with family, friends, carers and community networks, or sadly on their own.

“This is why the Compassionate Communities movement was created by Professor Allan Kellehear (while at La Trobe University) – to enhance and support informal care networks during end of life.

“Our aim in hosting the West Australian forum in Bunbury is to have a better, socially-connected community contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of everyone, making Western Australia a better place to live and die.

“We’re encouraging expansion of the Compassionate Communities networks in all parts of the state, similar to what we have achieved in the South West.”

As well as the speaker element, the weekend program offers a range of activities including tours of the Bunbury crematorium and memorial gardens, visits to the Wellington Dam Living Legacy Forest, a session on how to talk about the sensitive topic of suicide, a tour of William Barrett and Sons Care Centre, and death cafes (in Bunbury and Busselton). Some of these activities are part of the global Dying to Know Day movement that is aimed at increasing death literacy, taking away the taboo surrounding death and encouraging end-of-life planning.

The event is supported by the Perron Institute, WA Department of Health, Palliative Care WA, South West Grief and Loss Centre, South West Development Commission, Retravision, and William Barrett and Sons.

For further information and to register for the Western Australian Forum on Compassionate Communities; Let’s Build a Compassionate and Connected WA:

Compassionate Communities | BREC (