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Compassionate Communities

What is a Compassionate Community?

Compassionate Communities is an international movement which recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services. Rather, it is everyone’s responsibility.

The Compassionate Communities approach builds capacity within individual communities to support people approaching the end of their lives. This public health approach not only applies to palliative care, but also ageing and all those living with a disability or a life-limiting condition.

Each year about 15,000 people die in Western Australia; and it’s estimated this number will almost double over the next 25 years.  This will place increasing demand on providing end-of-life care which communities can help meet.

Establishing a Compassionate Community requires a rethink about how care can be provided to people who are dying, with a focus on developing a network of care to support the person with a terminal illness and their carers.

The specifics of how a Compassionate Community works is different in every location, as the concept is tailored to harness existing resources and strengths to meet local needs.

What is PCWA’s role?

The Compassionate Communities movement is in its early stages in WA.  We are focussing on building capacity and creating a network to encourage the development of Compassionate Communities.

PCWA’s focus at this early stage is on:

  • identifying community groups and organisations that have the desire and will to develop initiatives
  • building collaborative partnerships between these community groups and organisations to leverage resources and add value to projects.

As Compassionate Communities are established, we will:

  • help them develop and implement their own charter or guidelines, based on their individual community’s strengths, existing resources and needs
  • create a network to showcase and link Compassionate Community projects, facilitating shared learning opportunities
  • provide easy access to international and Australian resources to support the formation of Compassionate Communities in WA.

Compassionate Communities Network WA

PCWA established the Compassionate Communities Network WA to champion and identify local opportunities for the development of compassionate communities. The network shares information and resources and supports communities that are interested in developing a whole-of-community, place-based approach to palliative and end-of-life care. Subscribe to newsletters for regular updates.

What Compassionate Community projects are running in WA?

  • Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care

The Country WA Primary Health Network is one of 10 PHNs implementing the Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care measure.

This project will enhance the informal care networks of people requiring palliative care and identify ways to connect formal health care services, information and social supports. It will identify the type of patients who may benefit from early engagement with palliative care, mapping their formal and informal networks and building community capacity to support people at the end-of-life.

The Great Southern Compassionate Communities project aims increase community knowledge about matters to do with death, dying and bereavement and how best to care for those affected. Also, to improve access to a broader range of safe and good quality care that will result from this initiative.

A major task for the project will be to influence community attitudes about the end-of-life, and some of the practical issues that arise. A toolkit has been developed to help navigate resources and local services.

The target communities for the project over the two years are:

  • City of Albany
  • Shire of Denmark
  • Shire of Plantagenet
  • Shire of Katanning
  • National Compassionate Communities Forum

The South West Compassionate Community Network is one of eight national GroundBreaker communities which collectively form the National Compassionate Communities Forum. The forum will seek to explore the challenges, successes and viability of the Compassionate Communities approach in Australia. Email for further information.

  • River Angels

Since September 2011 the River Angels has supported families affected by cancer who live in Margaret River. Local volunteers help with day-to-day living, assisting with cooking, cleaning, babysitting, gardening, ironing and handyman chores.


Our resources page has useful links and resources related to Compassionate Communities.

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