Dying – a topic for everyone

Little coffins
Little coffins

Compassionate communities recognise that caring for one another during a health crisis or personal loss is not solely a task for health and social services, it’s everyone’s responsibility.

Our Compassionate Communities Capacity Builder Lisa Forward oversees an innovative project in the Great Southern centred around creating awareness about death, loss, dying and care.

Lisa said it is about helping people start the conversation and empowering them with the right skills, knowledge and important information so they feel confident sharing that with others.

“For me, it’s about having a healthy end of life and making sure we can die in the place of choice. And we all have ageing parents, so this is a project for everyone,” Lisa said.

She has already noticed a change among the community, where people in the Great Southern are more open to talking about death, dying, loss and care.

The Dying to Know Day organising party posing for a photo
Lisa Forward, pictured fourth from right in grey, with the Dying to Know Day organising party

The project has already had several success stories and people are now reaching out and asking for help.

“People are asking what tools are available to them and their family during this hard time,” she said.

“We now have information readably available on our online toolkit that also helps health professionals point people in the right direction.

Before I die blackboard
Before I die blackboard

“The toolkit caters for all ages, cultures, health professionals and families during this time.”

The project, which is being run in partnership by WA Primary Health Alliance and the City of Albany, is one of 11 being delivered nationally through funding from the Australian Government through the Primary Health Network program.

As the operator of WA’s three Primary Health Networks – part of the Australian Government’s national PHN program – our role is to plan, guide and direct investment towards important primary healthcare services and projects such as Compassionate Communities.

To find out more about the project, find local events in the Great Southern, hear the latest news and access an extensive range of helpful resources and our toolkit, visit Primary Health Exchange.


Hear from our CEO Learne Durrington and City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington about Compassionate Communities, in our latest Better Health, Together video.


About the project

The Great Southern Compassionate Communities project began in March 2018. It aims to encourage people to:

  • Talk about death, dying and loss as a natural part of life.
  • Think through future treatment and care needs if they become extremely unwell.
  • Make an Advance Care Plan to assist family, friends, carers and doctors to understand how they would like to be cared for, both now and in the future.
  • Understand what practical support may be needed to help people who are dying to stay at home and knowing how to support friends and family through times of caring and loss.
  • To support each other during times of caring and grief.