Who we are

Compassionate Communities are Everywhere

Compassionate Communities Australia is part of a global movement of communities working to improve how we care for one another, especially during illness, death and challenging times.

The movement originated in Australia in the 1990’s and was pioneered by Professor Allan Kellehear who remains an active ambassador for this work around the globe. We are now seeing Compassionate Communities emerge as an international model of public health.

We recognise and acknowledge the many individuals and organisations that have promoted Compassionate Communities in Australia over the last ten years in particular.

Compassionate Communities Australia is about bringing together all of this excellent work to date and building on it together, with a focused and strategic approach for the next 10 years and beyond.

Global Compassionate Community Movement

Our people

Professor Samar Aoun

Professor Samar Aoun

Director & Chair

Professor Samar Aoun is Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Western Australia, Head of Palliative Care Research at Perron Institute, and Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University. Samar is an international leader in the promotion and advocacy of public health approaches to palliative care and led this approach for those living with grief and bereavement. She is known as an innovator and a champion of practice and policy translation of public health science for palliative care.

Her work on social models in bereavement support has provided empirical evidence to strengthen the Compassionate Communities approach. She co-founded and currently chairs the South West Compassionate Communities Network and leads the Compassionate Connectors program which offers the practical and social support needed by families with life limiting illnesses, with volunteers working alongside palliative care and chronic disease teams. The program significantly improved social connectedness and reduced hospital admissions.

She is a past president of the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association in Western Australia and MND Australia and serves on the board of Palliative Care WA. She is a member of Public Health Palliative Care International and the Public Health Palliative Care reference group of the European Association of Palliative Care.

She was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003 from the Prime Minister of Australia, received in 2018 the Medal for Excellence from the European Society for Person Centred Healthcare and was recently awarded the 2023 WA Australian of the Year.

Dr Stephen Ginsborg

Dr Stephen Ginsborg


During Stephen’s 50 years as a GP, and having watched his father’s work as a GP, he has been increasingly concerned about the over-medicalised responses to the social changes and challenges of the human condition.

For many years he has felt that the reanimation of our ability to care for ourselves, and others, can be nourished through interweaving First Peoples’ traditional knowledge with the development of Compassionate Communities.

A wish for this shift in the paradigm of health strategies, and the desire for social change has inspired his work in social policy over the last 15 years. He has served in Sydney as a Director on the Boards of his local Division of General Practice, Medicare Local, Primary Health Network (PHN), Groundswell, Community Care Northern Beaches (CCNB), and currently Council on the Ageing (COTA NSW). He also sits on the Board of Kamaroi School and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Stephen worked for many years as a visiting Medical Officer in Aboriginal Medical Services in the Kimberley.

He has found that swimming is an essential part of supporting himself so as to help support others.

Stephen is committed to help develop equitable strategies that raise health and death literacy and assist community, GP’s and other health care providers to offer compassionate choices so that we can live, age, die and grieve well. He is excited to be a Director of Compassionate Communities Australia, helping people to reclaim agency and connection at all stages of life.

Dr Joanne Doran

Dr Joanne Doran


Dr Jo Doran is a doctor with over 30 years’ experience in palliative care.  She currently works for the  Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service as a senior consultant and is also an Honorary Adjunct Assistant Professor at Bond University Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine.

Originally from the UK, she trained in London and completed her post graduate training in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. From 1999-2012 she was Area Medical Director for Palliative Care in Northern NSW.

She has been a strong advocate and champion for palliative care by being involved in policy development and implementation on local, state and national levels. She was co-author of the first National Standards for Palliative Care, and Palliative Care Service Development Models, both documents continue to underpin palliative care service delivery in Australia today.

 As well as her leadership role, she is passionate about education in end-of-life care and is highly regarded as a guest speaker and lecturer. She is well known for her entertaining, original and informative talks, and always aims to challenge and inspire others with compassion, playfulness, insight and generosity.

In recognition of her contribution to palliative care she was awarded the Palliative Care NSW Leadership Award by her peers, was nominated for NSW Woman of the Year by the Health Service CEO and more recently was nominated as Mentor of the Year in her current role.

Her greatest love has always been the bedside care of patients and teaching, which is now the main focus of her work.

Harpreet Kalsi-Smith

Harpreet Kalsi-Smith


Harpreet is an Australian Indian woman who was born in Kenya and raised on the lands of the Turrbul and Yuggera peoples. She brings 20 years of experience specialising in health and wellbeing, driving innovation and change. She founded the Kindness Company, a social change collective that works with individuals and communities to build capacity to live well, age well and die well. Harpreet’s passion to advocate and work in end-of-life care commenced after supporting her mother during her final months of end of life. Her own lived experience and that of carers and people who have died from a range of illnesses including dementia and cancer, have driven her to work for better care for all approaching end of life. Harpreet holds a Masters in Conflict Resolution, is a consumer advocate, integral sound healer, reiki master, trauma informed practitioner and end of life doula.

Harpreet Kalsi-Smith

Guy Marchesani

Director & Treasurer

Guy is a Chartered Accountant and experienced senior Finance Executive with more than 29 years experience in the energy industry and more recently the not-for-profit sector. Guy has established and led various finance teams responsible for corporate reporting and governance, planning, oil marketing and coordination, insurance, financial systems and treasury/cash management.

Guy has been appointed Director and Company Secretary for various group companies and is currently the Finance Director and Company Secretary for the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth Limited (AROSE).  

Guy is also a Board Member and current President of the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Western Australia.

Guy holds a business degree from Edith Cowan University, is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Harpreet Kalsi-Smith

Dr Julieanne Hilbers

Project Lead

Julieanne is a registered psychologist, educator, researcher and community development worker who is passionate about supporting people and communities to flourish.  Advocating for equity and celebrating diversity is important to Julieanne.  She is the co-founder of the South West Compassionate Communities Network and is committed to community-led approaches  that enable people to be live and die supported by their community.   

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Compassionate Communities Australia acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of Country throughout Australia and acknowledges their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay our respects to the people, the cultures and the elders past, present and emerging.