Great Southern Compassionate Communities

Compassionate Communities is an international public health palliative approach whose aim is to engage broad community support for people approaching the end of their lives. The movement takes initiatives that encourage and enable the whole community to provide care and support to complement those given by health and social service providers.

The Great Southern Compassionate Communities project aims to make our community more knowledgeable about matters to do with death, dying and bereavement; and the care of those affected. Also, to improve access to a broader range of safe and good quality care that will result from this initiative.

A major task for the project will be to influence community attitudes about the end-of-life, and some of the practical issues (such as care) that arise. This will involve thinking and talking about things such as:-

  • Accepting that death, dying and loss are normal/natural
  • Thinking through future treatment and care needs
  • Making an Advance Care Plan to help family, friends, carers and health professionals understand how you would like to be cared for now and in the future.
  • What practical support might be needed to enable terminally ill people to die at home, and how to support family, friends and carers through periods of caring and eventual death.
  • Encouraging broader and shared community support during periods of caring and grief.

The target communities for the project over the two years are:

  • City of Albany (regional centre and major focus of the project initially)
  • Shire of Denmark
  • Shire of Plantagenet
  • Shire of Katanning


Compassionate Communities is an international public health palliative approach whose aim is to engage broad community support for people approaching the end of their lives. The movement takes initiatives that encourage and enable the whole community to provide care and support to complement those given by health and social service providers.

The Great Southern Compassionate Communities project aims to make our community more knowledgeable about matters to do with death, dying and bereavement; and the care of those affected. Also, to improve access to a broader range of safe and good quality care that will result from this initiative.

A major task for the project will be to influence community attitudes about the end-of-life, and some of the practical issues (such as care) that arise. This will involve thinking and talking about things such as:-

  • Accepting that death, dying and loss are normal/natural
  • Thinking through future treatment and care needs
  • Making an Advance Care Plan to help family, friends, carers and health professionals understand how you would like to be cared for now and in the future.
  • What practical support might be needed to enable terminally ill people to die at home, and how to support family, friends and carers through periods of caring and eventual death.
  • Encouraging broader and shared community support during periods of caring and grief.

The target communities for the project over the two years are:

  • City of Albany (regional centre and major focus of the project initially)
  • Shire of Denmark
  • Shire of Plantagenet
  • Shire of Katanning


  • Compassionate Communities in the time of COVID-19

    7 days ago

    If there was ever a time for a community to be compassionate its now. The COVID-19 pandemic is of course serious and worrying but it is also an opportunity for us all to find creative ways to look after ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbours and our communities.

    Yes we MUST observe the physical distancing rules

    Yes we MUST wash our hands – regularly and thoroughly

    Yes we MUST respect the measures being put in place to protect the community and the health system

    Yes we MUST seek out, and stay up to date with, reliable sources of information (Refer to “COVID-19” links listed in the Compassionate Communities Toolbox)

    It is wonderful to hear of the many innovative ways local communities are stepping up to the challenge to show their compassion for people that are isolated, ill or caring for others that are ill, and for people who are grieving. One thing is for sure - people are grieving in so many ways now (https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief).

    Technology is proving to be hugely beneficial – not just allowing people to work from home or to order goods and services on-line but its also allowing people to keep in touch with others. There are numerous stories of people using various platforms to keep in touch with their parents, grandkids, siblings, friends, book clubs, sporting groups, neighbours and the list goes on. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t replace a hug, but it helps enormously to keep people sociably connected.

    There are also numerous ways that we can support the most isolated and vulnerable in our community, even those that are not digitally connected. We can follow the lead of organisations such as the City of Albany which is publishing “How Can I Help” cards in local newspapers that can be cut out and placed in neighbours’ mailboxes. Another option is we can donate to organisations such as Foodbanks and other reputable organisations that are working hard to make sure that people who are doing it tough get the basics of life.

    So, while we face this COVID-19 pandemic situation let’s remember to be a Compassionate Community.

    Community is everyone’s business, End of Life is everyone’s business and Grief Support is everyone’s business. We are in this together.

    If there was ever a time for a community to be compassionate its now. The COVID-19 pandemic is of course serious and worrying but it is also an opportunity for us all to find creative ways to look after ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbours and our communities.

    Yes we MUST observe the physical distancing rules

    Yes we MUST wash our hands – regularly and thoroughly

    Yes we MUST respect the measures being put in place to protect the community and the health system

    Yes we MUST seek out, and stay up to date with, reliable sources of information (Refer to “COVID-19” links listed in the Compassionate Communities Toolbox)

    It is wonderful to hear of the many innovative ways local communities are stepping up to the challenge to show their compassion for people that are isolated, ill or caring for others that are ill, and for people who are grieving. One thing is for sure - people are grieving in so many ways now (https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief).

    Technology is proving to be hugely beneficial – not just allowing people to work from home or to order goods and services on-line but its also allowing people to keep in touch with others. There are numerous stories of people using various platforms to keep in touch with their parents, grandkids, siblings, friends, book clubs, sporting groups, neighbours and the list goes on. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t replace a hug, but it helps enormously to keep people sociably connected.

    There are also numerous ways that we can support the most isolated and vulnerable in our community, even those that are not digitally connected. We can follow the lead of organisations such as the City of Albany which is publishing “How Can I Help” cards in local newspapers that can be cut out and placed in neighbours’ mailboxes. Another option is we can donate to organisations such as Foodbanks and other reputable organisations that are working hard to make sure that people who are doing it tough get the basics of life.

    So, while we face this COVID-19 pandemic situation let’s remember to be a Compassionate Community.

    Community is everyone’s business, End of Life is everyone’s business and Grief Support is everyone’s business. We are in this together.

  • Helping older people to live well at the end of life - Aged Care Standard 4

    about 2 months ago

    Are you a health care professional that wants to help older people live well, even as they approach the end of their lives?

    Aged Care Standard 4 highlights the importance of providing services and support that can help older people manage their daily lives and achieve their goals, including at the end of life. PalliAGED offers some really helpful resources to help health care professionals and others to find ways to support people to live well even while approaching death.

    You can access a number of very practical palliAGED resources through the Heath Professionals and Service Providers Resources section of this Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.


    Are you a health care professional that wants to help older people live well, even as they approach the end of their lives?

    Aged Care Standard 4 highlights the importance of providing services and support that can help older people manage their daily lives and achieve their goals, including at the end of life. PalliAGED offers some really helpful resources to help health care professionals and others to find ways to support people to live well even while approaching death.

    You can access a number of very practical palliAGED resources through the Heath Professionals and Service Providers Resources section of this Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.


  • Albany's first 'Happy to Chat' bench

    2 months ago

    Albany has its first 'Happy to Chat' bench thanks to a partnership between agencies that aims to address social isolation within our community and create friendly and supportive connections with each other.

    The idea for 'Happy to Chat' benches arose from the recent City of Albany Compassionate City Charter workshops. The aim is to brand a number of seats around Albany to encourage people to stop and say hello to each other. They will provide a safe and convenient place for those feeling lonely to sit and let others know they welcome a chat from a passer-by.

    City of Albany's Executive Director Community Services Susan Kay said the initiative is one way community can help combat a loneliness epidemic affecting one-in-four Australians.

    "Social isolation is an issue we can all help to fight by making sure we are inclusive, encouraging positive conversations and showing our compassion as a community," Ms Kay said.

    The Department of Transport has nominated one of the benches on the foreshore opposite the boat pens near the Albany Entertainment Centre as a 'Happy to Chat' bench, and it has a plaque identifying its purpose.

    WA Primary Health Alliance Regional Manager Lesley Pearson said the first 'Happy to Chat' bench showed how easy but important it is to create a safe and inviting place for people to talk, whether it's simply passing the time of day or a deeper conversation.

    "This exemplifies the spirit of the Compassionate Communities project and the commitment from the Department of Transport as landowner to support the wellbeing of the local community and provide their bench for this initiative", she said.

    The City of Albany is seeking suitable locations for more 'Happy to Chat' benches across Albany as part of its Compassionate Communities project that is being delivered in partnership with the WA Primary Health Alliance.



    Albany has its first 'Happy to Chat' bench thanks to a partnership between agencies that aims to address social isolation within our community and create friendly and supportive connections with each other.

    The idea for 'Happy to Chat' benches arose from the recent City of Albany Compassionate City Charter workshops. The aim is to brand a number of seats around Albany to encourage people to stop and say hello to each other. They will provide a safe and convenient place for those feeling lonely to sit and let others know they welcome a chat from a passer-by.

    City of Albany's Executive Director Community Services Susan Kay said the initiative is one way community can help combat a loneliness epidemic affecting one-in-four Australians.

    "Social isolation is an issue we can all help to fight by making sure we are inclusive, encouraging positive conversations and showing our compassion as a community," Ms Kay said.

    The Department of Transport has nominated one of the benches on the foreshore opposite the boat pens near the Albany Entertainment Centre as a 'Happy to Chat' bench, and it has a plaque identifying its purpose.

    WA Primary Health Alliance Regional Manager Lesley Pearson said the first 'Happy to Chat' bench showed how easy but important it is to create a safe and inviting place for people to talk, whether it's simply passing the time of day or a deeper conversation.

    "This exemplifies the spirit of the Compassionate Communities project and the commitment from the Department of Transport as landowner to support the wellbeing of the local community and provide their bench for this initiative", she said.

    The City of Albany is seeking suitable locations for more 'Happy to Chat' benches across Albany as part of its Compassionate Communities project that is being delivered in partnership with the WA Primary Health Alliance.



  • Death for Beginners - "Brilliant from start to finish"

    3 months ago

    The first ever "Death for Beginners" program was held at Albany's Summer School last week and the overwhelming response was that it was brilliant from start to finish.

    Ten inquisitive people from across WA were brave enough to attend this program run over five half day sessions. The program, which was expertly facilitated by Irene Montefiore (Albany's Death Cafe co-convener), included a range of local professionals who covered topics as diverse as palliative care, grief management through sand play, planning your own funeral, legal and financial planning for end of life, advance care planning and networks of care. It was highly interactive with participants getting to chance to ask lots of curly questions and to share their own experiences.

    The idea for the "Death for Beginners" program first arose from the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Project which is being run by WAPHA in partnership with the City of Albany. When it was first proposed to the Albany Summer School Committee there was an initial hesitation however they embraced the idea fully and were greatly supportive in getting the program up and running.

    The feedback on the program was so positive that plans are already afoot to run a similiar program at next year's Albany Summer School.


    The first ever "Death for Beginners" program was held at Albany's Summer School last week and the overwhelming response was that it was brilliant from start to finish.

    Ten inquisitive people from across WA were brave enough to attend this program run over five half day sessions. The program, which was expertly facilitated by Irene Montefiore (Albany's Death Cafe co-convener), included a range of local professionals who covered topics as diverse as palliative care, grief management through sand play, planning your own funeral, legal and financial planning for end of life, advance care planning and networks of care. It was highly interactive with participants getting to chance to ask lots of curly questions and to share their own experiences.

    The idea for the "Death for Beginners" program first arose from the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Project which is being run by WAPHA in partnership with the City of Albany. When it was first proposed to the Albany Summer School Committee there was an initial hesitation however they embraced the idea fully and were greatly supportive in getting the program up and running.

    The feedback on the program was so positive that plans are already afoot to run a similiar program at next year's Albany Summer School.


  • Different Cultural Approaches to Death

    3 months ago

    Have you ever wondered what is appropriate to say or do when a person from a different religion or culture experiences a death in their family?

    ​The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) consults with key WA religious leaders to produce information sheets on culture and religion.

    The sheets offer useful information for members of the public, students and anyone interested in finding out more about the different cultures and religions that make up our multicultural society. They can also assist service providers in government and not-for-profit community sectors in improving development and delivery of services

    There is an information sheet on each of the following religions: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. The sheets give brief details of the history of each religion in WA as well as information on the background and origins of the religions and an outline of their key beliefs.

    OMI’s culture and religion information sheets offer information on cultural aspects of these seven religions, on topics including ‘Food, drink and fasting’, ‘Body language and behaviour’, ‘Medical’ and ‘Death and related issues’, among others.

    To access the information sheets check out Cultural and Religious Information under the "Employer Resources" tab on the Toolkit.


    Have you ever wondered what is appropriate to say or do when a person from a different religion or culture experiences a death in their family?

    ​The Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) consults with key WA religious leaders to produce information sheets on culture and religion.

    The sheets offer useful information for members of the public, students and anyone interested in finding out more about the different cultures and religions that make up our multicultural society. They can also assist service providers in government and not-for-profit community sectors in improving development and delivery of services

    There is an information sheet on each of the following religions: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. The sheets give brief details of the history of each religion in WA as well as information on the background and origins of the religions and an outline of their key beliefs.

    OMI’s culture and religion information sheets offer information on cultural aspects of these seven religions, on topics including ‘Food, drink and fasting’, ‘Body language and behaviour’, ‘Medical’ and ‘Death and related issues’, among others.

    To access the information sheets check out Cultural and Religious Information under the "Employer Resources" tab on the Toolkit.


  • Managing grief during the festive season

    4 months ago

    As we prepare for the end of year festivities its important to think about those who are grieving as the festive season can feel pretty awful when you’ve lost someone you care about.

    If you are in this situation there are a few things you can do over the end of year holidays that will improve your emotional wellbeing and help you cope.

    If you’ve recently lost someone you care about, are struggling with grief and are worried about how you’ll cope during the festive season you may find this article https://au.reachout.com/articles/managing-grief-during-the-festive-season provides some suggestions for how you can prepare for the end of year holidays and provides links to other resources.

    This is just one of the resources that can be found in the Grief and Bereavement Resources section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities toolkit.


    As we prepare for the end of year festivities its important to think about those who are grieving as the festive season can feel pretty awful when you’ve lost someone you care about.

    If you are in this situation there are a few things you can do over the end of year holidays that will improve your emotional wellbeing and help you cope.

    If you’ve recently lost someone you care about, are struggling with grief and are worried about how you’ll cope during the festive season you may find this article https://au.reachout.com/articles/managing-grief-during-the-festive-season provides some suggestions for how you can prepare for the end of year holidays and provides links to other resources.

    This is just one of the resources that can be found in the Grief and Bereavement Resources section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities toolkit.


  • Albany Compassionate City Charter

    5 months ago

    A Compassionate City Charter ... What is it? How can we create one? How can we get involved?

    The City of Albany and the WA Primary Health Alliance are partnering to develop a Compassionate City Charter for Albany that seeks to bring the whole community together to support people who are experiencing illness, death, loss and grief. Its all about making Albany a compassionate and supportive community to live in.

    Over the next couple of months there will be a number of Compassionate City Charter workshops held including two open invitation events on Wednesday 27th November.

    • Daytime Community Workshop - 10 am -12 pm at the Albany Public Library
    • Evening Business & Sporting Group Workshop - 6 pm-8 pm - Centennial Stadium. Note this will feature guest speaker Jeff Dennis CEO Swan Districts Football Club

    Workshop bookings by 20/11/2019 are essential. RSVP to Vivienne.Gardiner@wapha.org.au or 0472 843 175 (confirming which workshop you will be attending).



    A Compassionate City Charter ... What is it? How can we create one? How can we get involved?

    The City of Albany and the WA Primary Health Alliance are partnering to develop a Compassionate City Charter for Albany that seeks to bring the whole community together to support people who are experiencing illness, death, loss and grief. Its all about making Albany a compassionate and supportive community to live in.

    Over the next couple of months there will be a number of Compassionate City Charter workshops held including two open invitation events on Wednesday 27th November.

    • Daytime Community Workshop - 10 am -12 pm at the Albany Public Library
    • Evening Business & Sporting Group Workshop - 6 pm-8 pm - Centennial Stadium. Note this will feature guest speaker Jeff Dennis CEO Swan Districts Football Club

    Workshop bookings by 20/11/2019 are essential. RSVP to Vivienne.Gardiner@wapha.org.au or 0472 843 175 (confirming which workshop you will be attending).



  • What is the right thing to say?

    6 months ago

    Many people struggle to find the right words when faced with a friend or colleague going through tough times. It’s so tempting to respond by saying things like “I know exactly how you feel” or “Oh yes that reminds me of the time when…”. We don’t mean to shut down or take the focus off the other person, but inadvertently we do.

    There are numerous articles that discuss this common communication problem and here are a couple that provide simple approaches that can help us all to handle such conversations better in the future…

    These are just some of the useful resources that can be found in the Podcasts, Talks, Books, Film & Articles to Ignite Conversation, Inspire & Comfort section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities toolkit.


    Many people struggle to find the right words when faced with a friend or colleague going through tough times. It’s so tempting to respond by saying things like “I know exactly how you feel” or “Oh yes that reminds me of the time when…”. We don’t mean to shut down or take the focus off the other person, but inadvertently we do.

    There are numerous articles that discuss this common communication problem and here are a couple that provide simple approaches that can help us all to handle such conversations better in the future…

    These are just some of the useful resources that can be found in the Podcasts, Talks, Books, Film & Articles to Ignite Conversation, Inspire & Comfort section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities toolkit.


  • You Only Die Once - Palliative Care WA

    7 months ago

    Palliative Care WA has released a new "You Only Die Once" online guide from which you can find a comprehensive suite of really informative resources including

    • Advance Care Plan form
    • Guidance on preparing an Advance Health Directive
    • Enduring Power of Attorney guide
    • Your Money Your Choice guide

    This website is one of several resources that can be accessed through the “Planning Ahead Resources” section of the Compassionate Communities Toolkit.

    Palliative Care WA has released a new "You Only Die Once" online guide from which you can find a comprehensive suite of really informative resources including

    • Advance Care Plan form
    • Guidance on preparing an Advance Health Directive
    • Enduring Power of Attorney guide
    • Your Money Your Choice guide

    This website is one of several resources that can be accessed through the “Planning Ahead Resources” section of the Compassionate Communities Toolkit.

  • What is Palliative Care?

    7 months ago

    When you hear the words “Palliative Care” do you assume that means care at the very end of life? If so you are not alone as that is a common misunderstanding.

    ‘End of life’ represents a specific time frame and often narrows the focus to the dying phase allowing opportunities for earlier support to be overlooked.

    Palliative Care Australia has produced this handy information sheet that provides a good explanation of what Palliative Care really means. This information sheet is one of several resources that can be accessed through the “Individuals and Patients Resources” section of the Compassionate Communities Toolkit.



    When you hear the words “Palliative Care” do you assume that means care at the very end of life? If so you are not alone as that is a common misunderstanding.

    ‘End of life’ represents a specific time frame and often narrows the focus to the dying phase allowing opportunities for earlier support to be overlooked.

    Palliative Care Australia has produced this handy information sheet that provides a good explanation of what Palliative Care really means. This information sheet is one of several resources that can be accessed through the “Individuals and Patients Resources” section of the Compassionate Communities Toolkit.