Conversations about Death and Dying

Bring an open mind and an open heart to a day of conversation about dying and death, where industry experts will share their experience and understanding of palliative care, sudden or traumatic death, dying, bereavement and grief. Imbued with a gentle dose of humour, this event covers the legal, practical, realistic, emotional and sacred choices we can make about life and death. Join us for a day of connection and empowerment to make informed choices. 

Ticket price includes all talks and lunch. 

Thank you to: The Constant Reader Bookshop, Picaluna Funerals, HammondCare, Dying with Dignity NSW, Life Story Productions and The Porcelain Urn Company for joining us on the day for the lunch break. Thanks to Susie from Olive and Moss for our beautiful flowers and for always supporting our events with a smile. A selection of textile artworks by Ro Cook will be exhibited during the day. 

Feel free to share the event on Instagram: @nthsydcentre and facebook: northsydneycommunitycentre

Guest Speaker: Annabelle Peacock

Annabelle’s journey with the great mystery that is death began with the sudden loss of her young brother and sister-in-law 13 years go. She was forced to face her greatest fears, to be brought to her knees by life changing grief and reassess her place in the world. She ultimately came to the realisation that grief is another form of love, that love never dies and that we are always connected and have an ongoing relationship with those that have gone before us. In her work as a death doula, celebrant, lawyer and mediator Annabelle’s heart’s longing is to walk alongside anybody who finds themselves in one of life's challenging transitions and grieving, whether it be facing their own death or that of a loved one, breakdown of family or relationships, and to help them to feel safe, supported and empowered.

Guest Speaker: Maryanne Larkin

Maryanne is a passionate supporter of brain surgeon, Charlie Teo and brain cancer research. She is the wife of Gavin Larkin, founder of RUOK?, an organisation committed to suicide prevention. In 2010 Gavin and their son Gus were both diagnosed with cancer in the space of one month. In 2011 Gavin lost his battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Two years later Maryanne lost their son Gus to brain cancer. Along with Josie (17yrs) and Van (12) Maryanne continues to support brain cancer research and hopes for a world where no child ever has to go through what her son Gus endured.

Guest Speaker: Michael Barbato

Following 17 years as a General Physician, Michael entered the Palliative Care specialty. Since retiring from clinical practice in 2014 he has researched the experience of unconsciousness in dying patients. Michael directed palliative care services in NSW and the ACT, worked for the NT Palliative Care Service and volunteered for a Cambodian NGO that serves the sick and dying. He has a long-standing interest in death literacy and non-ordinary states of consciousness, including end-of-life dreams and visions. He is the author of three books on the topic of palliative care and runs a correspondence course with his wife on the art of midwifing death.

Guest Speaker: Chris Basten (M.Psychol; Ph.D.)

Chris is a Clinical Psychologist with particular interests in health psychology, adjustment to illness and injury and cognitive behaviour therapy. He holds Psychology degrees from the University of NSW and University of Sydney and gained 15 years consultation-liaison psychiatry experience at Westmead Hospital. While there, he regularly worked with people in the cancer, palliative care and trauma wards. For the past 10 years Chris has focused on his own practice and on training other health professionals. He has casual lecturer roles at a number of universities and honorary appointments with Macquarie University and the University of Technology Sydney.

Facilitator: Margaret Rice

Margaret is a journalist by training who has worked as a sub-editor for Australian Associated Press (AAP), as Medical Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, and as Feature Writer for The Good Weekend. Her blog is designed to help start the conversation about death. Margaret’s book A Good Death, A compassionate and practical guide to the end of life will be released by Murdoch Books in May 2019. “Brilliant. Comprehensive, practical, sympathetic but honest and beautifully written. I loved it” - Ken Hillman, Professor of Intensive Care, UNSW and author of A Good Life to the End. 

Guest Speaker: Kathryn Breusch

Kathryn has worked in the Funeral Industry for the past 14 years, initially as a Funeral Celebrant. More recently she has taken on the role of Funeral Director where she is able to walk side-by-side with families in her community, through the difficult and varied decisions that need to be made when a loved one dies.  Kathryn has experienced the difference it makes when a family have well-communicated wishes in place. It is her desire to pass her wisdom back to her community so that they are better informed and in command at a most challenging time.

Guest Speaker: Kelly Arthurs

Kelly is a Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Consultant at HammondCare, with over 15 years experience. Kelly has provided symptom management and end of life care in various settings including specialist palliative care units, community care, aged care, and private and public hospital consultation. More recently Kelly’s career has focussed on Advance Care Planning, and she is currently working on a National Project, funded by the Department of Health called The Advance Project - designed to assist general practices to implement a team based approach to initiating advance care planning and palliative care into every day clinical practice.

Facilitator: Simon Thomsen

Simon is publisher, editor, journalist, restaurant critic, mentor, champion of change, MC, Swans fan and is looking forward to having a conversation about grief, hope and resilience.

Guest Speaker: Maiken Ueland

Maiken Ueland is the Deputy Director of the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER), a unique body donation facility dedicated to the study of forensic taphonomy in Australia, the only one of its kind outside America. Forensic taphonomy is the study of human remains from the time of death to the time of discovery. Maiken completed her PhD at UTS, and has a B.Sc. with Honours in Forensic Science. Maiken will also discuss more broadly what happens when you donate your body to science.

Guest Speaker: Shayne Higson

Shayne Higson is a passionate advocate for voluntary assisted dying, who believes in the principle of dying with dignity. Following the death of her mother from brain cancer Shayne began her long association with the Voluntary Euthanasia Party (VEP), running as their lead candidate in five elections and has been the driving force behind the registration of the NSW branch of the Voluntary Euthanasia Party. She continues to work tirelessly campaigning to legalise voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in roles with Dying With Dignity NSW (Current Vice President), Go Gentle Australia and Dying with Dignity WA. 

MC: Vashti Whitfield

Vashti is a documentary maker, author and Senior Associate with Coaching Australia and Coach Global. Vashti also works as an educator, speaker and guide, helping individuals and medical professionals learn how to approach, understand and process loss, grief, death and dying. As a faculty member of The School of Life, Vashti lectures on Matters of Life and Death - exploring the philosophical, spiritual and emotional relationship between death, dying, grief and loss. Her award winning documentary Be Here Now (2017) chronicles her late husband, actor Andy Whitfield, and his family’s journey with cancer and the battle to overcome fear, loss and death.

Artist: Ro Cook

During our day of talks we are exhibiting a selection of works by artist Ro Cook, well known Sydney artist and lecturer in Visual Art, design and Artisanal practice Absent Friends is an exhibition of textile artworks that connects the themes of death and friendship. Ro presents unique works representing individual friends from a long career in film and the art world. The exhibition is also a response to the modern sanitized, western way of dealing with death, and investigates the bond of textiles as the uniting element in all communities.