Australian Palliative Care Conference 2017

Sue Pieters-Hawke

National Ambassador


Sue grew up in a family committed to constructive social change and community engagement. Her father Bob is a former Prime Minister; her mother Hazel was a community worker, homemaker and advocate.

Once dubbed ‘the accidental advocate’, she is known for her humour, directness and empathy, and as a creative, constructive problem solver. Sue has enjoyed a diverse and colorful career – she has studied law, history, complementary health and preventive medicine, yoga, qigong and Tibetan Buddhism. She has been an activist for progressive social issues, an artists’ model and rock’n’ roll barmaid. While raising her two children, she worked part time as a PR advisor, fundraiser and small business manager, and established a clinic and school with two Chinese qigong masters.

For many years Ms Pieters-Hawke ran Hazel’s business and community affairs; gradually increasing the level of personal care and support she provided as Hazel declined with dementia. She has written two bestselling books: in 2004, she wrote of Hazels experience of Alzheimer’s in Hazels Journey , and in 2011 a complete biography of her mother in Hazel, My Mothers Story.

Whilst she is best known for her expertise and passion in the areas of dementia, positive ageing, care, and community, the ambit of subjects on which she can enthral an audience continues to evolve. Her most recent challenge has been dealing with cancer – diagnosis, treatment, lifestyle changes and the road to recovery of vibrant health and wellbeing.

Ms Pieters-Hawke’s lifetime involvement with various wellbeing disciplines, and her own encounter with serious issues and illnesses, inspire her to nurture her own wellbeing and to support others in facing the myriad challenges we often face in navigating our way intelligently in today’s world.

Sue loves the ‘people stuff’ of family, work, community engagement and friends; but also treasures ‘quiet time’ and simple pleasures, and can often be found lost in a book or her garden. She is a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, and remains close to her two adult kids. She was born in Canberra, grew up in Melbourne, has travelled extensively, is divorced and lives in Sydney with her cat Monty. She is currently the National Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Australia and Co-chairs the Federal Ministerial Dementia Forum.


September 6, 2017
Plenary Session 2 – Interviews: Community response to dying
Plenary - Hall L
11.00am  -  12.30pm