Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Introducing The GroundSwell Project:

Transforming the way Australians respond to death and grief
By Expert Tips
Date: November 27 2018
Editor Rating:
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The GroundSwell Project is an international leader in death literacy and has been at the forefront of this matter in Australia since it was established by Clinical Psychologist Kerrie Noonan and Playwright Peta Murray in late 2009. The co-founders noticed a lack of death literacy in Australia and set about to create an organisation that created change in this area. Shortly after, it was registered as a not-for-profit organisation with DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status, incorporated in NSW.

The purpose of the organisation is to create a more death literate society, one where people and communities have the practical know-how needed to plan well for end-of-life. This means shifting focus from ‘talking about it’ to transforming this ‘difficult’ conversation into one of deep community engagement, social action and empowerment.

“Through The GroundSwell Project we want to educate people to have a better understanding of death literacy and know how to engage with death as an everyday part of life,” says Kerrie Noonan, Co-Founder of The GroundSwell Project. “Our goal is to open up community conversations about loss, ageing, illness, death and dying, changing community knowledge, attitudes and behaviours about these important life transitions.”

In 2016, funding was provided by the JO and JR Wicking Trust to enable the organisation to develop and pilot a National Death Literacy Benchmark tool and conduct the first national survey of death literacy and to disseminate their findings at the end of a three year period. Core operating support was also provided, which transformed the organisation, providing capacity to build new partnerships and multi-year systemic change work.

The GroundSwell Project founded “Dying to Know Day” in 2013, an annual day of action which brings to life conversations and community actions around death, dying and bereavement. Since its launch, it has expanded to over 500 events across the country. Dying to Know Day activates conversations and curiosity, builds death literacy and helps individuals and community groups to plan for their end-of-life wishes. People are encouraged to host an event in their local community, host a Death Café, have a conversation with a loved one or write their own will.

One of their current initiatives is the National Compassionate Communities Forum (NCCF), launched at the beginning of 2018. They are supporting the development of eight local networks across Australia that are made up of engaged community members and health services working together to actively improve the way people age and die in their community. This initiative is supported with funding from BUPA Health & Care.

Another of their current initiatives is the “10K Project”. It is a unique wellbeing program that engages resources and networks within a 10km radius of a residential aged care facility with the aim of transforming it into a community hub. The 10K Project is a three year collaboration amongst aged care provider, Southern Cross Care NSW & ACT, The GroundSwell Project and researcher, Western Sydney University. The goal is to develop active, connected and engaged aged care environments that place relationships and social networks front and centre.

A new and core focus of The GroundSwell Project is “Compassionate Workplace”. It aims to build positive culture and look at how the workplace can utilise existing networks to provide support for people who are suffering from loss. The team meets with HR managers to run a session addressing the essential skills to help colleagues and co-create methods to encourage suitable support and care to fit in with the office work culture. The approach of each session is based on authentic storytelling, the science and latest research on the topic and interactive engagement with attendees.

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