Great Southern Compassionate Communities

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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


  • Did you attend the Compassionate Albany Charter Launch?

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    22 Oct 2020
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    How to get involved:

    • Go to a Death Cafe meeting https://deathcafe.com/profile/8083/
    • Create and support artistic events that get people talking about death, dying, loss and bereavement
    • Host events at your home, club or place of worship to support those who are experiencing loss, death and bereavement
    • Start up a compassionate network to support someone you know that is having a difficult time
    • Talk openly about your future care and wishes and complete your Advance Care Plan
    • Offer to help someone find information online
    • Volunteer with an organisation that supports people
    • Stop and listen

    Keep checking in with us, we are continuously updating the resources pages.

    Find out more about Dr John Rosenberg and Public Health Palliative Care International https://phpci.info/contact

    See the charter https://www.albany.wa.gov.au/facilities/community/connected-communities.aspx

    We would love to hear from you, feel free to ask questions on the Q&A page.


    With Thanks to
    • All our community members, representatives from clubs, sporting and faith groups, community and government agencies who participated in workshops. Your words, stories and aspirations are the charter and it is your continuing support and voice that will bring it to life within our community.
    • Project Steering Group
    • City of Albany community development team
    • WAPHA Compassionate community staff
    • Our friends and partners in the Compassionate community project; Albany Community Hospice, (Heather and Tony’s Story), Hawthorn House Alzheimer’s WA, Soroptimist International Albany, and Greenman,
    • Albany Death Café and the Dying to Know network group

  • Albany City Council Support a Compassionate Community

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    The City of Albany and WA Primary Health Alliance have partnered to develop a Compassionate Albany Charter that encourages community to play a stronger role in supporting individuals and families through difficult times.

    Endorsed by Council on the Ordinary Council Meeting on 25th August, it is understood the project was the first of its kind in WA where a Local Government has worked with key health and community stakeholders to achieve a whole-of-community owned compassionate charter.

    The City of Albany will be the custodian of the Charter, which has a palliative care focus and encourages neighbourhood networks that provide a support structure to residents when they need it most.

    Workshops took place with community members to discuss all aspects of what makes a support network successful, and how Albany could become a more compassionate place to live.

    Six key themes were agreed; Shared Humanity, Community Mindedness, Compassionate Organisations, Communication and Information Sharing, Compassionate Places and Spaces, and Leadership and Advocacy.

    Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic emphasised the importance and value of having a Compassionate Charter.

    “Supporting this Compassionate Albany Charter means we are supporting our community to look out for each other through hardship, whether that be personal or economic to individuals, families or businesses,” Mayor Wellington said.

    “This Charter has a key focus on supporting people through the end-of-life process, but the compassionate aims spread broader than that too and encourages service providers, businesses, organisations, groups and clubs to work together to create an Albany that is resilient, responsive and understanding.

    “It’s crucial that we stick together, look out for others who might be vulnerable and show compassion to those who are experiencing hardship or grief.”

    The Compassionate Albany Charter and report can be found on the City of Albany website or in hard copy at the City of Albany Administration Building on North Road or the Albany Public Library, or in electronic format at the Great Southern Compassionate Communities website . A detailed report of the Compassionate Albany Charter can be found here

  • Albany Community Hospice - An invitation to Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation focus groups - URGENT!! LAST SESSIONS

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    05 Aug 2020
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    *Update 26 August - Albany Community Hospice needs to hear back from more community members so if you have some time to donate please register for one of the remaining Focus Groups;

    Monday 31st August - evening

    Tuesday 1st September - evening

    Monday 7th September - evening

    Friday 11th September - afternoon

    Has Hospice touched your life?

    Do you consider yourself a supporter of the only Community Hospice in WA?

    If so, Albany Community Hospice values what you have to say.

    The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia and Albany Community Hospice are inviting members of the Great Southern Community to take part in focus groups exploring views around the enactment of Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation in WA as it relates to hospice. This research project will help the ACH Board determine their response to the enactment of this legislation.

    Voluntary assisted dying was made legal in Western Australia in December 2019 under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 and will be available to eligible terminally ill people from June 2021.

    The groups are to be held in August and September and will be led by an external, independent facilitator. You are invited to attend one, 2-hour session.

    Tea and coffee provided.

    To register your interest contact kate.gersbach@albanyhospice.org.au or phone on 0410 507 331. For more information, please contact Kate (0410 507 331) or A/Prof Kirsten Auret (9842 0820).

  • Consumer Perspectives on Palliative Care in WA – Patients and Carers - have your say now

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    06 Jul 2020
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    Researchers at the Perron Institute are currently seeking the views of patients with a life-limiting illness, their family/friend carers and anyone who was a family/friend carer of a person with a life limiting illness in the last five years to participate in their consumer survey of patient and carer perspectives on palliative care. The survey is open to people who have accessed palliative care as well as those who have not accessed palliative care. This research is part of an independent review of palliative care services in WA.

    Survey closing date has been extended to Sunday 16 August. Access at the link below

    https://perroninstitute.org/consumer-perspectives-of-palliative-care

  • Starting Conversations with Dying to Know Day

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    16 Jul 2020
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    Dying to Know Day (August 8th) is an annual campaign that activates community members and organisations to host events that encourage critical discussion and planning around death, dying and grief. Each year hundreds of events are put on across the country ranging from death cafes to Q&A’s, art exhibitions and film screenings - all with the intention of generating these critical conversations.

    This year, in the Great Southern, Kali Caramia and Helen Bolton from Life Tree will be facilitating two workshops were participants can explore the innovative 'Your Life Talks' starter cards. Kali and Helen's mission is to raise community awareness of the importance of initiating meaningful conversations within families, to recognise our intrinsic need to remember and celebrate our life and achievements. To find out more and register https://www.facebook.com/events/262810478331751/

    If you are in the South West, please check out the wonderful events they have coming up on August 7, 8 and 9. It's a chance for our South West community to gather and talk about all things death, dying and bereavement. Please register your interest in the individual events to stay updated and assist with catering purposes. All events are free. https://www.facebook.com/pg/comcomnetworksw/events/?ref=page_internal

    In light of COVID-19 Groundswell have remixed Dying to Know and are bringing an array of events to you! Over the last couple of months Groundswell has worked with trusted partners to deliver free, online events that offer insight into different aspects of end of life planning; from organising a funeral under COVID-19 to getting to know end of life doulas to where to begin when writing your will. You can find recordings of these webinars on their website. We are also posting events on our website so be sure to check in to see what is on offer.

  • In This Together – National Reconciliation Week 2020

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    28 May 2020
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    This year National Reconciliation Week overlaps with National Palliative Care Week.

    So, what does culturally appropriate palliative care look like?

    Cancer Council WA's Palliative and Supportive Care Education team has produced an educational video resource. The video is made for health professionals working with Aboriginal people, especially Aboriginal people originating from the West Kimberley region.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=173&v=gA9Tu2590OI&feature=emb_logo

    The video demonstrates the insights that can be learnt when we take the time to engage in meaningful two way dialogue and seek to truly understand and respect cultural perspectives. We really are in this together.

    This, and other helpful resources, can be can be accessed through the “Aboriginal People Resources” section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.

  • Grieving the loss of a loved one during the coronavirus pandemic.

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    03 Jun 2020
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    Coping with the death of a loved one is hard; coping with loss during the coronavirus pandemic brings another level of emotional and practical challenges.

    If you have lost someone to or during COVID-19:

    1.Remember that grief is a natural and ongoing response to loss. It can be more pronounced in uncertain times such as these. Try not to be afraid of any emotion you experience.

    2.Grieve your way. No-one can tell you how to feel.

    3.Stay connected. Seek support from people you trust through the use of phone and video calling technology.

    4.Say goodbye. Find quiet time to be alone and say goodbye to your loved one in your own way.

    5.Understand that a funeral during COVID-19 will be different. Try to focus on what you can control.

    6.Be prepared. There will be events and moments in future that will trigger your memories and sadness.

    7.Understand that you will heal. In time you will learn to live with your loss, heal and move forward in new and different ways.

    Guidance on how to deal with grief from Beyond Blue and other sources, can be accessed through the "Grief Resources" section of the Great Southern Compassionate Communities Toolkit.


  • Palliative Care… it’s more than you think

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    20 May 2020
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    Palliative Care… it’s more than you think

    When you hear the words “Palliative Care” do you think that it’s the type of care you receive only at the very end of life, when the medical system has given up hope? If so, you wouldn’t be the only one but it’s far from the truth.

    Palliative care can be available to people from the time they are first diagnosed with a life-limiting illness; and you can receive palliative care for a long time before your die, alongside other types of treatment.

    Palliative care can help people with life-limiting illnesses to live as well as possible, for as long as possible – supporting their physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs.

    National Palliative Care Week, 24th - 30th May 2020, is an opportunity to better understand what palliative care can offer.

    A good starting point is taking a look at the Palliative Care WA FAQ sheet https://phexchange.wapha.org.au/37503/widgets/221661/documents/168739 or by attending the various Palliative Care WA community on-line “Understanding Palliative Care” forums being held on 26, 27 and 28 May.

    Details of these and other events can be found on the Great Southern Compassionate Communities site https://phexchange.wapha.org.au/great-southern-compassionate-communities

  • Compassionate responses to COVID-19 Challenges

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    14 May 2020
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    COVID-19 has presented the world with many challenges and is teaching us many lessons, not least being a greater awareness of the impact of isolation on people’s physical, emotional and mental health.

    There are however some wonderful examples of individuals, organisations and communities finding innovative ways to seek out, and reach out to, isolated people across all stages of life, illness, loneliness, dying, death and bereavement.

    One such example is the “Call and Check Service” that the City of Albany has recently launched as part of its #albanyallinthistogether campaign.

    Albany residents who would like someone to check in on them regularly can now register for the ‘Call and Check’ service through the City of Albany. The City is also hosting a daily check-in video call for all residents at the same time each day for those who want to connect with someone virtually. If residents wish to register themselves or someone they know to the Call and Check program or the daily video call, they can call 6820 3023 or email commdevel@albany.wa.gov.au.

    This is just one example of a Compassionate Community in action.

    The Great Southern Compassionate Community team would love to hear of other examples of individuals, groups or organisations who are reaching out to connect with and support isolated and vulnerable people.

    If you would like to share your stories please email Christine.Grogan@wapha.org.au



  • Free Online Training for Substitute Decision Makers - Advanced Care Planning Australia

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    07 May 2020
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    Have you been asked to be a substitute decision maker for somebody as part of their Advance Care Plan? Perhaps you've been asked to be an Enduring Guardian or Medical Treatment Decision-Maker?

    Whether you are feeling privileged to be asked or daunted by the prospect (or even a little bit of both) there is support out there to help you decide whether to take on the role or not.

    Advanced Care Planning Australia has released a new free online resource to help you prepare for your role. The program can be accessed, anywhere, anytime on a computer, smart phone or tablet and takes only 30 minutes. There are no tests or exams, just helpful information and tips for people making treatment decisions for others.

    To register for the ‘Advance Care Planning for Substitute Decision- Makers’ program go to: https://learning.advancecareplanning.org.au/index.php