This Enabling Conversation on ‘What makes a good life and a good death?’ was held on 4 April 2019 at Dapto Ribbonwood Centre. Below is a slideshow glimpse of the evening and the tremendous feedback we received in writing.

Highlights video

For details of the Program, see the archived information below.


Excellent forum to discuss a difficult community topic.”

Insightful provider (of) personal perspective to life and death. Excellent useful discussion.”

Interesting speakers. Fabulous conversations and discussion.”

An excellent generous program on an important topic relevant to us all.

Loved the openness of the panel members sharing their life insights.

I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion. I appreciate the diversity of the panel and thought this brought interesting perspectives. I would have loved this event to go for longer…”

Great conversations and discussions from the panel. Very professional and non-judgmental, informative suggestions for future education and health.

Excellent initial “conversation” Please continue with this Program. It will hopefully lead to greater tolerance and compassion between people and to a greater degree of introspection, mindfulness… ”

So needed. Well done

Facilitator encouraged open, generous, personal and interesting conversations on this difficult, but very necessary topic. To be informed is to be enabled. Thank you. It was enlightening.

Wonderful guest speakers. So much food for thought. Great range of skills opinions etc. Catherine McGregor (wonderful!!) What a gem!!

Great idea – conversations are so important to enabling! To inclusiveness. To understanding/knowledge.

Excellent all through – Guest, MC, topic, knowledge, Wisdom, Necessary discussion for a good society.

Terrific. I would like to be informed of the next one.”

Excellent, diverse panel. Well run and executed.


Really liked it

Very interesting team on your panel. I really enjoyed listening to the different perspectives and experiences

Very thought-provoking

Excellent discussions – open and honest and from differing perspectives and life experiences

I feel privileged to hear the interesting stories from the panel.

Enabling Conversations Program

A forum to consider issues that matter to us, share our insights, listen to others and enable new mindsets

What makes a good life and a good death?

Many of us live busy lives, living and doing, observing and absorbing life’s experiences and, at times, taking time to make sense of what does it all mean? Does what I do make a difference? Am I living a good life? Can life be better?

Rarely, do we think about dying, and even less about what would a good death be like?


An invitation from Diann

With the aim to create a platform in the Illawarra to consider issues that matter to us, share our insights, listen to others and enable each other to reach new levels of sense-making, the Illawarra Centre for Enablement (ICfE) has created the Enabling Conversations Program.
ICfE’s first Enabling Conversation focuses on the question, ‘What makes a good life and a good death?’
To catalyse this discussion with me, a panel of leaders from the Illawarra and a national leader have been invited to consider this question based on their own unique lived experiences and insights. This discussion will be followed by a Q&A with the audience. I am delighted to feature all the Panellists below. In planning this event, a prime consideration has been to make this event affordable to the community, in the hope that many can attend this Conversation. We want ICfE’s Program of Enabling Conversations to build deeper community connections through conversations and so that we can appreciate our own breadth of diversity and complexity that give rise to our personal answers to matters of significance.
I hope you can attend and look forward to meeting you.
Kind regards,
Diann Rodgers-Healey

We are delighted to say that as ICfE is committed to enabling an inclusive community in the Illawarra, we are very proud to announce that Flagstaff supports the Enabling Conversations event on 4th April at Dapto Ribbonwood Centre!
Flagstaff’s vision is to unlock the potential of people with a disability to reach their goals.

More information about Flagstaff is at
Video by Aaron Healey

Catherine McGregor

Catherine McGregor is a freelance writer broadcaster and author. She is a graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon from which she graduated with Honours in History and was awarded the CEW Bean Prize for Military History. She attended the Changing Character of War Programme at Oxford University and holds postgraduate degrees in War Studies and Military History. She served as an officer in the Australian Regular Army and the Royal Australian Air Force for over three decades. Her service included operational deployments overseas including operational command in Timor Leste. She is a Tetum linguist.
Catherine was a strategic advisor and speech writer to every Chief of the Army from 1999 until 2014. She subsequently served in as Director of Research and Analysis for the Chief of Air Force. She was awarded the Order of Australia in the Military Division in the Australia Day Honours list in 2012.
Catherine is one of Australia’s most highly regarded cricket writers and commentators. She has written for News Limited and Fairfax on cricket including two Ashes tours of England. Catherine has written two highly acclaimed books on cricket and is a current player and coach. She serves on the board of Grassroots Cricket and Stand Tall4 PTSD, charities with a cricket focus. She was seconded to the Cricket Australia selection panel to select the Prime Minister’s XI in 2013 and 2014.
Catherine has also written widely on politics and global security issues for News Limited and has appeared as regular guest on the Drum 7:30 Report and Lateline on politics and national security.
Catherine is Australia’s most prominent transgendered woman. Catherine’s personal story of gender transition is compelling and inspiring. Her life is the subject of stage production which will be held the Sydney Theatre Company in 2018. 

Professor Gordon Wallace

Gordon Wallace was born in the city of Belfast in Ireland where he attended primary school. His boyhood ambition was to become a professional soccer player. However, in 1972 his family emigrated to Australia and settled in Geelong where he completed his high school education. He became interested in Science while at Oberon High School.
He went to Deakin University in Geelong and played soccer for the local Geelong football club. Gordon Wallace played soccer for the All Australian University team winning a University Blue for Sport at Deakin.
Gordon Wallace graduated with a BSc Honours (Chemistry and Physics) in 1979 and then received a PhD in 1983. He returned to his home country, Ireland, where he lectured for two years at University College in Cork. In 1985 he decided to return to Australia to take up an appointment at the University of Wollongong (UOW). In 1990, at the age of 32, he was appointed a Professor. He has worked at UOW and lived in Wollongong for more than 30 years.
He was awarded an Australian Research Council QEII Fellowship in 1991, an ARC Senior Research Fellowship in 1995, an ARC Professorial Fellowship in 2002 and a Federation Fellowship in 2006. He was awarded a DSc from Deakin University in 2000. He has published more than 1,000 refereed research papers on inherently conducting polymers for intelligent material systems, as well as the book Organic Bionics. He has supervised the work of almost 100 PhD students. In addition to being awarded a number of research prizes, Gordon Wallace was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2003 and of the Australian Academy of Science in 2007.
He was appointed to the Prime Ministers Knowledge Nation 100 in 2015. He received the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science and Innovation in 2016.
He was named the 2017 NSW Scientist of the Year. He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia and Wollongong’s Australia Day Ambassador in 2017.

Eugenia Pyne

Eugenia Pyne is a mother and carer of four children, originally from Liberia, West Africa. She recently completed a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Wollongong. Eugenia is a survivor of the Liberian civil war that claimed the lives of most of her family members, including her husband, daughter, brothers and many others.
In 1996, she luckily escaped Liberia to a refugee camp in Guinea. She lived in the camp for nine difficult years and lost another daughter there again. In 2005, Eugenia was granted a 204 (woman at risk) visa and came to Australia with her two sons and other family members.
In 2010, Eugenia lost her 19 years old son to leukaemia. It is her pleasure to contribute to this discussion from the perspective of a person who has suffered the pain that life and death can bring.

Dr Michael Barbato

Michael is a retired palliative care physician with a long-standing interest in the care of the dying, the experience of unconsciousness and unusual events around the time of death. He has spoken at national and international conferences, is the author of three books on death and dying and with his wife Ann co-ordinates a Midwifing Death Course for carers.

The Hon. Gareth Ward MP

Gareth Ward was born in Gerringong into a small-business family and has lived in the Illawarra and South Coast his entire life. Born with Oculocutaneous Albinism, Gareth has been legally blind since birth. Gareth attended the University of Wollongong and holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Arts, Commerce and Law. Following his undergraduate studies, Gareth went on to complete the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and is on the roll of admitted solicitors for the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia.

He was named Shoalhaven’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2001 and the Illawarra Young Business Person of the Year in 2001. Elected to Shoalhaven City Council at age 22 in 2004, Gareth is the youngest-ever Councillor to serve on Shoalhaven City Council. He was re-elected in 2008.

In 2011, Gareth became the first Liberal Member for the State Seat of Kiama. In 2014, he was unanimously elected Deputy Government Whip. In April 2015, Gareth was appointed by the Premier as the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast which involves representing the interests of the entire region directly to the Premier and Cabinet. In March 2017, Gareth added the role of Parliamentary Secretary for Education to his list of responsibilities, assisting the Minister for Education on anti-bullying and students with disabilities.

In his rare private time, Gareth enjoys golf, watching cricket and music.