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Australian Unity sets the table for Death Over Dinner

19 May 2015

Death Over Dinner is a concept encouraging Australians to throw a dinner party with family and friends and hold a meaningful conversation about mortality, ageing and the choices we face at the end of our lives.

Australian Unity is today hosting its own Death Over Dinner event at a retirement community in Vermont South, where over 70 residents will hear Michael Hebb, founder of Death Over Dinner in the USA, speak on the importance and value of end of life conversations.

Rebecca Bartel, Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Health Research (ACHR), will also be speaking about how the concept will be introduced in Australia by the ACHR, followed by a panel discussion about what we want for ourselves and those we love.

“Conversations about end of life care often take place at a hospital in the midst of a crisis,” Ms Bartel said.

“Decisions have to be made quickly and under stress. This means many people die in a way they wouldn’t choose. Loved ones are left feeling guilty, bereaved and anxious.

“Through Death Over Dinner, we are calling on all Australians to have this conversation at the dinner table with their loved ones, not in the intensive care unit (ICU) after an emergency when it is too late.”

Australian Unity Independent & Assisted Living Chief Executive Officer Derek McMillan said he hopes bringing Death Over Dinner to Australia encourages people in having discussions about death and end of life care.  

“Thoughts about death are often a difficult conversation for individuals to have and for families and friends to hear.  But we often hear how comforting it is, when these conversations have been had and a person’s wishes are known and fulfilled at the end of their life,” Mr McMillan said.

 “Over the years at Australian Unity, we have supported many individuals and their families through end of life conversations and seen how this has changed their experience with death. Any initiative that helps make these discussions less confronting and more common and normal is a positive step forward”.  

People interested in hosting a dinner can register their interest at to receive support materials including a step-by-step guide to help facilitate the conversation and get the discussion going among attendees.

Death Over Dinner first launched in the USA in 2013. Since then, it has inspired over half a million people to discuss end of life care, helped shift policy and funding decisions and stimulated the uptake of advance care planning.

But most importantly, it has put people back at the centre of their own end of life decision-making and encouraged discussions around death in a positive and empowering way.


For more information contact Brendan Hennessy on (03) 8682 6778 or



About Death Over Dinner

Death Over Dinner is an interactive website dedicated to giving people the permission and the tools to discuss their choices and thoughts on end of life and End of Life Care with their friends and loved ones.  It works to bring people to the dinner table to create social change with the idea that dinners result in action and create deep engagement and profound relationships with participants. With the support of government agencies, it has already inspired over 500,000 people to break bread and explore the many aspects of mortality, ageing, and the choices we face at the end of our lives. See the website for more:

About The Australian Centre for Health Research

The Australian Centre for Health Research (ACHR) is an independent, health research institute focused on accelerating evidence-based solutions to improve the quality and lower the costs of care. Concentrating on the creation, translation and advocacy of health systems knowledge, ACHR transforms evidence on high-quality, high-value care into policy and practice.

About Australian Unity

Australian Unity is a national healthcare, financial services, and independent & assisted living organisation providing services to almost one million Australians, including around 300,000 members nationwide. Australian Unity’s history as a trusted mutual organisation dates back 175 years. It has grown organically—by continually evolving and providing the services and products needed by the communities it serves—as well as through successful strategic mergers and diversification into new business activities.

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