Improving Death Literacy in the Community

On Tuesday 12th December, Palliative Care NSW (PCNSW) hosted a Death Café at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre with facilitator and Death Café affiliate Melissa Halliday. SBS were also in attendance, filming the café and interviewing some of the participants with a story released on the 30th December which you can read here. The Café was attended by a diverse mix of people from different cultural backgrounds, with different experiences of death and dying and covering an age demographic from 40 to 80 years of age.  It was an open, honest, at times emotional and at times funny conversation.

The concept of Death Cafés was established by Bernard Crettaz, an eminent Swiss sociologist, following the death of his first wife. The first café mortel took place in 2004 in Switzerland and Crettaz’s concept spread, and Jon Underwood in the UK was inspired by his work. In 2010, Underwood developed a series of projects about death under the not-for-profit company Impermanence. After reading about Crettaz’s café mortel model, Underwood developed the Death Café model and created resources for these sessions on the website with the Death Café ‘social franchise’ continuing to grow around the world.

‘At a Death Café people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.

Improving understanding about death and dying within the community is an important part of the ‘compassionate communities’ approach to palliative care and end-of-life care. Through forums such as Death Cafes people have an opportunity to explore their thoughts and feelings about death, dying and end-of-life, while also providing an opportunity to demystify palliative care.

PCNSW is committed to delivering and supporting more forums like this.   Since May this year we have delivered 19 Community Conversations in regional areas including Yass & Gunning.  In 2024 we will be looking to further expand these type of forums.

In addition to these forums, we are supporting the community through:

Should you be interested in accessing any of these resources (printed or electronic) for your service or patients or would like to know more about our community education forums please reach out to