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Schools of Life and Death


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Hear from a panel of experts as they draw from their diverse personal and professional experiences to discuss the ways different cultural groups understand and relate to the concept of death.


What is a ‘good death’?

Incorporating a range of personal and professional perspectives, this panel discussion unpacks the many ways we understand and experience death throughout our lives – from how we carefully communicate the inevitability of death to children, to the stories we tell ourselves and our loved ones about it as adults.

Hear from renowned writer Chloe Hooper, death doula and independent funeral director Kimba Griffith, Wamba Wamba, Ngurai-Illum Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wotjobaluk woman and owner of Murrenda Memorial Service Stacey Hamilton, anthropologist Dr Hannah Gould and host Paul Barclay, as they discuss the ways different families, cultures and communities experience dying, death and grieving, the extent to which technological advancements have impacted modern-day death care, and what elements need to come together for a ‘good death’ to occur.

Illustration: Megan Herbert

The bookseller for this event is Neighbourhood Books.

This event will be recorded and broadcast as part of ABC’s Big Ideas.

Presented in partnership with the Contemplative Studies Centre.


You can learn more about the Wheeler Centre’s accessibility policies here. Please notify us of all access requirements when booking online so we can assist you with your visit. If you require further information, please contact reception on 03 9094 7800 or


Hannah Gould

Dr Hannah Gould is a cultural anthropologist working in the areas of death, religion (Buddhism), and material culture, with a regional focus on East-Asia and Australia. Her research examines the processes of disposal and divestment, both in regard to the human dead and material objects. In sum, she ... Read more

Kimba Griffith

Wholistic Funeral director, ceremonialist, death doula, jazz singer and death disruptor, Kimba Griffith walks with those facing life’s most immense transitions. As well as supporting people who have lost a person, Kimba works with people facing a life limiting illness, and those seeking to access ... Read more

Stacey Hamilton
Stacey Hamilton

Stacey Hamilton is a Proud Wamba Wamba, Ngurai-Illum Wurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wotjobaluk woman. Mother of Seven, Grandmother to 18. Owner/operator of Melbourne’s newest funeral service “Murrenda Memorial Services.” (Murrenda in Wamba Wamba language means to be alive.) This is a... Read more

Chloe Hooper

Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island (2008) won the Victorian, New South Wales, West Australian and Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the John Button Prize for Political Writing, and a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing. Her latest book is The Arsonist: A Mi... Read more

Paul Barclay

Paul Barclay is a Walkley Award winning journalist and broadcaster with an appetite for ideas and in-depth analysis and discussion. Paul has produced countless stories over more than 20 years for an array of programs on virtually all ABC radio networks. He is currently the presenter of Big Ideas o... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.