After almost ten years, Creative Director, and HASH-network member Dr Peta Murray, has stepped away from the not-for-profit arts-and-health organization The Groundswell Project she co-founded with clinical psychologist, Dr Kerrie Noonan, back in 2010. Murray’s departure was announced, as she was formally farewelled, at the recent PHPCI2019 Conference held in the Blue Mountains, in October 2019, and follows Dr Noonan’s exit earlier this year.
The Groundswell Project has been a game-changer in promoting death literacy in Australia and is responsible for initiatives like Dying to Know Day, as well as a research-partnership-based national Death Literacy Index, and for pilot programs, currently rolled out nationwide, around the concept of Compassionate Communities. In its early years, The Groundswell Project delivered three FilmLife Projects in partnership with The Organ and Tissue Authority, paired up with Year Eleven students from Penrith High School to deliver three iterations of a Drama Project around end-of-life, worked with Rookwood Cemetery to deliver Hidden, a sculpture prize and walk staged in a graveyard, and numerous other initiatives, workshops, festivals and events designed to capture and restore community confidence, capacity and knowhow around dying, while challenging institutional ‘ownership’ of death and the pathologizing of grief by medical and funeral professionals.
As part of her final pro bono contribution, Murray curated an arts program for and within the PHPCI2019 conference, and also, alongside colleague Niki Read, delivered a community fringe festival, From the Brink. She also presented one of her own works, the installation and performance diptych, vigil/wake. This work of live art has been developed over three years, beginning with two seasons at North Melbourne’s Arts House, before being further refined within On Loss: A Public Re/w/rite, for the Melbourne Writers Festival 2019. Collaborating artists are Rachel Burke, Jane Murphy, and more recently, Thembi Soddell.
Murray, now a VC’s postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, will continue her work on the development of co-created, arts-based secular ceremonies and collaborative methodologies expressive of an activist intent, while Dr Noonan is now with the National Association of Loss and Grief (NALAG).
The Groundswell Project will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2020.