Finishing Up Business

Australia has 65,000 years of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge that remains undervalued when approaching issues in our contemporary society. One of these issues is our approach to dying and death.

Aboriginal leaders such as Noel Pearson, Senator Patrick Dodson and the Honourable Ken Wyatt MP are among the voices recently raised to draw attention to the need to protect our common humanity and the preciousness of life, but Indigenous people are often hesitant to talk about dying and death. This creates a risk that their views are not considered and that the broader discourse on end-of-life issues continues without understanding what we could learn from Indigenous peoples.

Finishing Up Business has been written to help promote increased discussion of the insights Indigenous people offer us on these issues. Dying and death are difficult to deal with, but we should not allow this to prevent us from hearing the perspectives of the oldest continuous cultures in the world, and being open to learning from these views.

Finishing Up Business is the sixth paper in the PM Glynn Institute Occasional Paper Series. It was written by Kerry Pinkstone, Visiting Fellow at the PM Glynn Institute, as part of the Institute’s Indigenous Public Policy Program. The paper is written from a non-Indigenous perspective.

The Institute is very grateful to those who provided their personal insights in the development of this paper, including Wulgurukaba and Yirrganydji woman Jane Ceolin (Director, First Peoples Directorate, ACU), Wiradjuri man Associate Professor Michael Reynolds (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curriculum and Pedagogy Co-ordinator in Physiotherapy School of Allied Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, ACU), part-Aboriginal Australian Dr Anthony Dillon (Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute for Positive Psychology) and Professor James Franklin (School of Mathematics and Statistics, UNSW).

Download Finishing Up Business: What we can learn from Australia’s First Peoples about dying and death (PDF, 3.5MB)

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