Update on the National Compassionate Communities Forum

 GroundBreaker community leads came together for the first time at GroundSwell's Death Literacy Conference in June.

GroundBreaker community leads came together for the first time at GroundSwell's Death Literacy Conference in June.

I think it's time for an update!
Since our whirlwind ComCom tour of the UK, we jumped straight into action organising GroundSwell's Death Literacy Conference which was in Homebush in June plus a satellite event in Perth for all our west coast mates.
The conference was a huge success, tickets sold out and we had an incredible, diverse range of international presenters including Dr Julian Abel (Compassionate Communities UK), Barbara Gale (CEO St Nicholas Hospice UK) and Dr Merryn Gott (NZ) as well as a diverse mix of academics, practitioners and arts workers from around Australia.

Another exciting part of the conference was that it was the first time the 8 GroundBreaker communities came together! For those who have just joined us, the GroundBreakers are the 8 communities who are part of GroundSwell's National Compassionate Communities Forum. We're working with 8 communities from around Australia who are embarking on compassionate communities initiatives in their local area. These initiatives will build on existing strengths in the community and will be in response to gaps or issues that the community identifies and wants to shift. The community groups were chosen from an open expression of interest invitation that saw over 30 high calibre applications. The selection criteria included knowledge of the Compassionate Communities movement, existing community support and prioritised diversity in geography and socio-economic settings. The aim of the forum is to learn about the grass roots practice of compassionate communities in diverse community settings so that the findings might be relevant to as many communities as possible who are considering starting a compassionate communities initiative. 

The first step for each community is to hold a 'Town Hall Meeting' or community forum that introduces the concept of Compassionate Communities and offers an opportunity to map the existing assets of the community.

 Peter sharing some community mapping at the Northern Beaches community forum in April.

Peter sharing some community mapping at the Northern Beaches community forum in April.

There has been 3 so far; Sydney's Northern Beaches, Bundanoon (Southern Highlands) and Ballina (Northern Rivers region) with another 3 set to launch in August. This has been a fantastic process to gain insight and learning as to what makes a community forum a valuable starting point for Compassionate Communities.

At each of these launches it has been encouraging to see such wisdom and experience in the room both from people within the health sector and community members. It shows that there is so much information and lived experience out there that can be harnessed as a way of increasing support networks and building capacity in the community. 

There's growing interest in the practice forum and connecting in with it, we've had quite a few groups make contact to join our ComCom Map which is really great and shows the growth of the movement. You can see the map here.

In the next month we have launches happening in Bunbury (WA), Warrnambool(VIC) and North West Tasmania. With Dulong (QLD) and Newcastle(NSW) following closely behind. 

You can follow the action of the project more closely via the ComComHub Facebook page.

 Northern Rivers Compassionate Communities Forum in Ballina, July 2018.

Northern Rivers Compassionate Communities Forum in Ballina, July 2018.

 Bundanoon and Southern Highlands community launch in June 2018.

Bundanoon and Southern Highlands community launch in June 2018.

Holly Smith