National Compassionate Communities Forum

Building Capacity for a Public Health Approach to End of Life in Australia

As Australia faces an ageing population set to double by 2050, the end of life sector requires collaborative action . It is imperative that the sector builds capacity for a public health approach to palliative care. Compassionate Communities and Compassionate Cities are emerging as an international strategy for implementing a public health palliative care approach to end of life. However, there is insufficient research on how these concepts might be operationalized, especially in the Australian context.

The National Compassionate Communities Forum (NCCF) was launched at the beginning of 2018, drawing inspiration from the Pathfinders Project in the UK, an initiative of the National Council for Palliative Care which rolled out in 2015. The GroundSwell Project invited expressions of interest to join the NCCF from communities who could show local investment in initiating a grassroots Compassionate Communities model in their vicinity.
Read the media release launching the forum here.

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8 communities
across 5 states…

Sunshine Coast QLD, Northern Rivers NSW, Warrnambool VIC, Newcastle NSW, Bunbury and South West WA, Sydney’s Northern Beaches NSW, Bundanoon NSW, Cradle Coast, North West TAS.

The GroundSwell project received thirty applications of which eight communities, known as ‘GroundBreakers’, were successful. The GroundBreaker groups were chosen according to selection criteria of feasibility as well as to reflect the diversity of Australian communities. Factors including geographical location, population size and socioeconomic diversity were taken into account.


Sunshine Coast QLD -

Northern NSW -

Warrnambool VIC (initiated by Warrnambool and District Community Hospice) -

Newcastle NSW -

South West WA -

Northern Beaches Sydney NSW (initiated by Community Care Northern Beaches) -

Bundanoon NSW -

Cradle Coast, North West TAS (initiated by Care Beyond Cure) -


The intention of the NCCF is to be a learning network, with researchers at Western Sydney University mentoring and ] facilitating ongoing research of the varying approaches by the eight communities resulting in diverse insight and resources to further the work with new learnings for communities wanting to initiate the work in their area.

Compassionate Communities draws on community development principles to engage community members to actively improve the way people age and die in their community. Amplifying existing strengths in the community and determine gaps or areas that need more focus. It is recognising that the experience of death and dying is not limited to a few, but is something that will impact every one of us, how then do we reshape our society to be a more compassionate place for those who are dying, those who are caring and those who are grieving.

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We look forward to sharing this journey with you and being open with our learnings along the way in hopes of furthering the Compassionate Communities in Australia.

For more information or to get involved, please contact:

Holly Rankin-Smith

Compassionate Communities National Lead

And follow the project: