Presentations & Workshops

Music and MemoryMary Ashton (0930 – 1015)

Mary Ashton Originally from New York City, Mary trained as a teacher who specialised in the area of Learning Difficulties. Mary‘s first degree was a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Sociology and a minor in Education. Mary also holds  a Graduate Certificate in Learning Difficulties from University of NSW.

When Mary’s brother died in 1995 her focus took a new direction toward bereavement and palliative care. Mary has a Masters in Counselling and has Graduate Diplomas in both Bereavement Counselling and Children’s Bereavement. She is a trained Mediator and has done extensive study in Supervision and Group Facilitation. Mary is the Pastoral Care Manager at Calvary Hospital Kogarah and is also a group facilitator for bereaved children support groups at The National Centre for Childhood Grief. Mary was honoured by Prime Minister John Howard for her work with bereaved children.

  Mary Ashton

Permission to Pause: Finding the Breath of Resilience – Dr Phillipa Leonard (1045 – 1130)

Phillipa is a medical doctor who has taught resilience since 2004 to a wide range of people from medical staff and cancer patients to traumatised African youth.  She has had the privilege of being trained by MinMia, an Aboriginal elder and healer, and is passionate about the use of creativity and ceremony as tools for psychological and emotional health.

  Dr Phillipa Leonard

Passengers: storytelling, drama and death literacyKerrie Noonan (1130-1215)

“Passengers” is a documentary co-produced by filmmaker Jordan Bryon and The GroundSwell Project. It follows senior Drama Students from Penrith High School as they grapple with questions of life-and-death in an innovative community arts program delivered under the stewardship of The GroundSwell Project. Meet artists, teachers, and students, as they engage with community members, both ill, and the newly-bereaved. We observe an unfolding creative process built upon young peoples' questions as they encounter first hand stories of sudden death, and the lived experience of dying. We witness a shared journey from awkwardness to agency, and the potency of theatre and performance, as they craft and perform a collective response to some of life's biggest mysteries. Kerrie will present the film and the health promotion work GroundSwell has done over the past 7 years to improve death literacy in the community.

Kerrie Noonan is a cofounder and director of The GroundSwell Project, a social researcher and a clinical psychologist in palliative care. Kerrie has a long-standing interest in capacity building approaches to death, dying and bereavement, palliative care and how people can build their death literacy. With interests in health promotion, capacity building, social media, creativity and innovation Kerrie is passionate about the role that the arts can play in facilitating social and cultural change about death and dying.

kerrie2  Kerrie Noonan

Concurrent Sessions (1315 – 1430)   (click here for venue map)

Attendees may chose to participate in one of the following sessions:

1  Connecting with Creativity in the Final Phase of Life?  Carl Milton  (capacity 15)

Carl Milton, Palliative Care Visual Artist and Creative Facilitator, is a qualified practicing visual artist based at One plus 2 Studios in Sydney. Carl has exhibited locally, interstate and internationally and his practice oscillates between painting representational imagery and more subconscious intuitive interpretations. Carl's initial introduction to Palliative Care volunteering was in the early 1980’s when the AIDS crisis was unfolding and he has been volunteering at Concord Palliative Care Unit since its inception in 2013.

This workshop hosted by Carl Milton focuses on exploring the practicalities of facilitating art practice alongside end of life and palliative care issues. The aim is not to teach, but to ‘unlearn’ previously held unhelpful beliefs about one’s art that can obstruct and hinder the flow of one’s innate creative essence. As well as an introduction into being fully present with the creative process at the end of life there will be an opportunity to participate in both collaborative and individual creative exercises which can assist in opening the window into healing and  psycho spiritual avenues of creative self-expression.

  Carl Milton

2  Ending on a High Note  Hanna Tsoi  (capacity 30)

Derived from the Nordoff-Robbins Approach, ‘Musical Child’ is a concept that everyone has an inborn musical being that needs to be awakened. Music is always in us. We believe that everyone, regardless of ability, age, gender or race, has unlocked potential inside them. Music can be an agent to awaken their abilities.

"Sound is the last voice being heard before someone passes away" and "Music expresses the unspoken words". Together we will explore the creative processes in palliative care as well as participating in music exercises such as improvising, song writing which help to bring a person to the high points of life.

Hanna Tsoi is a graduate of the Masters of Creative Music Therapy programme (Nordoff-Robbins approach) at Western Sydney University. She is now a music therapist, a music teacher and musician. To enhance her professional development, she completed an intensive training in Neurological Music Therapy in Boston in 2015. Hanna actively seeks opportunities to maximize one's creativity and unlimited potential. She believes that Music Therapy can transcend psychological / physical / cultural borders. She is keen on connecting people and works hard to enhance people’s well-being and quality of life with music. At the moment she works at Neringah Hospital, Concord Survivorship Centre at Concord Hospital, the Mt Druitt Supportive and Palliative Care Unit, and The Hills Private Hospital. She has been interviewed several times on local radio and for newspapers. She is also a regular speaker and volunteer at the Cancare Cancer Centre.

   Hanna Tsoi

3  Writing the unwritten  Carolyn Wilkinson, Kylie Clark, Sarah Potter  (capacity 30)

Contained within our life experiences there are many stories.  When we share these stories, they can inspire us and enhance human connection by helping us to understand more about each other and showing us a different lens in which to view the world.  Sharing stories can validate and offer solidarity and support for our own experiences and emotions.  When we share a story with another, it helps us to express and process our own feelings, reduce the burden of our thoughts and lead us to an increased understanding of ourselves and our reactions to our life experiences.  This writing workshop is designed to provide an opportunity for attendees to express and share some aspects of the profound experience of being a palliative care volunteer.  The workshop may also assist volunteers with capturing a story for a client.  You don’t need to be a poet or award winning novelist to attend, but rather just possess a willingness to listen to another’s story and share a snippet of your own. Carolyn, Kylie and Sarah are all members of the NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteer Services.

Carolyn Wilkinson is the Palliative Care Volunteer Manager for the Nepean and Hawkesbury areas. Carolyn’s long experience with volunteers, together with her own journey, has affirmed the power of words as one pathway for ‘meaning making’ of all of our interactions with life, and for connecting us one to another. Kylie Clark works as the Palliative Care Volunteer Manager for Western Sydney Local Health District including Mt Druitt, Blacktown and Westmead Hospitals and 5 Community Health Centres. Kylie’s experience with volunteers enhances her belief that everyone has a story to share; each individual and unique. Sarah Potter works as Volunteer Co-ordinator for The Department of Palliative Care at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.  As a Co-ordinator of a small group of ‘Family Support’ volunteers who are placed with a family who have a child with a life-limiting illness, Sarah has heard many stories about the impact of the practical and emotional support given by these wonderful volunteers to families.

4  Laughter, health and wellbeing  Maureen Nash  (capacity 30) 

Maureen Nash is the founder of the business Path of Happiness and is passionate about supporting people to live with more connection, joy, authenticity and presence. Maureen’s professional background is in community services, with qualifications and experience in training and education including teaching, meditation and laughter yoga. Also with a background in drama, theatre and clowning, she brings creativity and fun into her workshops. We can laugh our way to better health!! She has a particular interest in how laughter, meditation, positive thinking and personal awareness can improve health and wellbeing.  For many years Maureen experienced anxiety and in 2001 was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being a regular meditator, discovering the joy of laughter and developing an attitude of gratitude turned Maureen’s life around. Maureen's joy, energy, mindful presence and spontaneity will uplift and inspire people. People love to laugh and Maureen has an ability to bring out the playfulness in people, getting them to relax and connect in fun and spontaneous ways.

  Maureen Nash

5  Art, therapy and volunteers  Justine Henderson (capacity 15)

Making art with clients provides such a great opportunity for connection. In this practical and fun workshop Justine will demonstrate how simple art making ideas will help your clients express themselves and how creativity will assist you in building  valuable working relationships with the people you care for. Justine will share her experience as an Art Therapist and how art making has helped her create meaningful experience with her palliative care clients. Absolutely no art making experience is required to attend this workshop. Places are limited to ensure the best experience for participants.

Justine Henderson holds a Masters in Art Therapy from Western Sydney University and has volunteer experience with the children’s hospice and respite service, Bear Cottage in Manly. She is involved in promoting art therapy to counselling and tertiary students, conducts school holiday workshops and works privately as an Art Therapist, specialising in palliative care. Justine is also a qualified ATCL Speech and Drama Teacher and has a BA, Communications. When she is not working Justine loves spending time with her two girls and getting lost in her studio.

Self-Care with Mindful YogaNikola Ellis (1430 – 1515)

What if there was a simple way to calm the mind, relax the body and release stress? What if this wonderful tonic was free, accessible and easy to use? In this session, you’ll discover Mindful Yoga, a do-able and effective way of bringing balance into your life. Mindful Yoga combines gentle movements, breathing techniques and mindfulness meditation to bring your body and mind back in to harmony. This therapeutic form of yoga can be adapted to meet the needs of people of all ages and abilities, including those with very limited mobility. You’ll learn why synchronizing simple movements with the breath makes it easier to practice mindfulness and explore cutting edge research on how this technique is being used in clinical settings to help people manage their mental, physical and emotional health. We’ll also be experiencing a short practice where you’ll discover for yourself that adaptive Mindful Yoga can be enjoyed by anybody, anywhere. No need for special equipment, clothes or flexible hamstrings! This is self-care at it’s very best – nurturing, healing and nourishing for body, mind and spirit.

Nikola Ellis is a senior yoga therapist and counselor who has been studying yoga and mindfulness for over 25yrs. In 2002 Nikola founded Adore Yoga, one of Sydney’s leading yoga studios, where she and her team offer a personalised, therapeutic style of yoga to very small groups. Nikola specializes in developing therapeutic yoga programs for special needs populations and has devised successful programs for Cancer Council NSW, RSL Defence Care, The Butterfly Foundation and the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network. Nikola is passionate about working at the intersection of yoga, mental health and social justice and her teaching reflects this commitment to making yoga a force for positive change in the world.

nik-headshot-300x300  Nikola Ellis