WA’s 2023 Australian of the Year reveals how we can all do death better

  • 3 August 2023

In the lead-up to Dying to Know Day on 8th August, Auspire – Australia Day Council WA hosted an online Lunch with Leaders with palliative care researcher and WA’s 2023 Australian of the Year, Professor Samar Aoun, and Jessie Williams, Community Manager responsible for the delivery of Dying to Know Day.

During the hour-long discussion, which you can watch in full below, these two experts spoke openly and honestly about why we need to reframe our thinking around death, dying, grief and loss, backed by research and studies.

Jessie, who dialled in from the East Coast, kicked things off with the question: People plan for months for a birth; why not for a death? She revealed that 87% of Australians believe it’s important to plan for death, but our Western society faces barriers. As the Community Manager of Dying to Know Day, she explained its purpose and mission to help people feel comfortable talking about the inevitable end-of-life, supported by over 160 events happening across the country in August. These events range from an orchestra performance in a cemetery to get-togethers in Death Cafés.


Slide showing Dying to Know Day information
“Dying to Know Day is a way to inspire Australians to think about death in a different way”


Professor Samar Aoun then stepped in to provide her insight, built from a wealth of real-life research, surveys and analysis into end-of-life care. As the co-founder of the South West Compassionate Communities Network, Samar revealed the impact of the Bunbury-based program, which utilises volunteers to connect people within community during times of caring and grieving. In her presentation, she revealed statistics on the impact on individuals, community and healthcare, that greatly support the importance of social connectedness and relationships in life – and in death.


slide showing statistics on end of life care
“Only 5% of a person’s day is spent with a health professional”


Talk turned to how this approach could be adopted on a national scale, and how people can look to other cultures to learn about coping with such subjects that Western cultures seem to find so difficult to face, inspired by Lebanese-born Samar’s own personal experience of the loss of her father.

To get all of Samar and Jessie’s insight and reframe your thinking around death and dying, watch the video below


Find out more about Dying to Know Day and the events you can get involved in at



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