About us

Our vision is to empower people with choice at the end of life and support them and those close to them with trained end of life doulas.

We acknowledge and recognise the circle of life and that the end of life is one of the chapters of life. It is not the enemy or opposite of life, not something to deny, keep at bay, or something that we can wish away; it comes to us all.

People have the right to plan for their end of life and have their preferences met; we are here to facilitate that. We are companions, advocates, and educators for those advancing in age or living with a diagnosis and those close to them.

Our story

Helen Callanan established Preparing the Way in 2015 in response to growing requests for education in end of life doula care and services. Since then, Preparing the Way has trained over 500 end of life doulas and has become the leading provider of end of life doula training in Australia and New Zealand.

Preparing the Way is one of the few training organisations dedicated exclusively to end of life doula care. We are committed to transforming how people support others at the end of life.

Whether you want to be more informed about your end of life options, support one person or many, Preparing the Way offers free information sessions, workshops, intensives, master classes, and a 10966NAT Certificate IV in End of Life Doula Services, which is a world-first and Australia’s only end of life doula accreditation. Find out more about our end of life doula training options.

Our values

Preparing the Way values.

Meet the team

Portrait of Helen.

Helen Callanan

Managing Director, Founder and Lead Educator

Helen is a practising end of life doula and the Founder, Managing Director and Lead Educator of Preparing the Way. Trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Reiki and with more than 30 years of experience working with the very ill and dying, Helen has deep insight into health and healing.

The death experiences of her parents, family, friends and many clients and her passion for education that transforms, led Helen to establish Preparing the Way and bring her wealth of knowledge to hundreds of doulas, clients and their families and those close to them.

Catherine Hutton

Catherine Hutton

Director and Chief Finance Officer

Catherine has had a lifelong interest in healing, wellbeing and making a difference. Her involvement in the world of end of life doulas results from varying experiences at the end of life of family and friends, and her passion for having people know their values and wishes will be honoured.

With a background in finance in the health sector and international banking, Catherine brings corporate experience to Preparing the Way and supporting end of life doulas.

Portrait of Kit.

Kit Bewley

Trainer and Administration Support

Kit’s interest in death and dying began early in life, initiated by her lived experiences. Her passion for tending to the end of life space was deepened during her community development degree, and combined with Preparing the Way training, laid the foundations for her to formally begin End of Life Doulaing in 2017.

Since then, Kit has been dedicated to authentic and compassionate approaches to death, dying and grief. She looks to empower individuals, families, and communities to reclaim all stages of life in a manner that honestly reflects their values and circumstances.

Jo Fuller

Jo Fuller

Trainer Lead

Jo is an experienced doula with a background in palliative and aged care nursing, pathology, medical research, and business management.

Jo has been working with Preparing the Way since April 2020 and is a senior educator leading the Foundation Course and soon to lead the Intensive Workshop. Jo is also a lead trainer of the Certificate IV in End-of-Life Doula Services.

Her qualifications include the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. She has completed the Professional Management Program at the University of Adelaide.

Portrait of Estella.

Estella Hutchinson

Trainer and Project Manager

Estella is a passionate trainer and facilitator with experience across multiple industry sectors. Estella brings these skills together with over 20 years of experience supporting clients, their families and friends at end of life and during bereavement.

Estella trained with Preparing the Way in 2016 and is a practising End of Life Doula, Grief Counsellor and Funeral Celebrant.

Preparing the Way trainer Jacqui Williams smiling outdoors.

Jacqui Williams

Trainer

Jacqui is a practising End of Life Doula, Funeral Celebrant, and community educator working with local, national and international communities since 2017.

Jacqui is passionate about helping individuals become more comfortable with the end of life through self-exploration, reflection, engagement, and deep conversations. She has over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse and a Certificate IV in Bereavement Support. Jacqui became a trainer for Preparing the Way in 2023.

Melanie

Melanie Cookes

Administration Manager

Melanie is an experienced administration manager with a background in the education and health sectors. After the death of her father and a close friend, Melanie was drawn to end of life work and volunteered in a hospice for more than two years. Melanie trained with Preparing the Way in 2021 and 2022 and is a practising End of Life Doula. Melanie is keen to raise awareness around end of life planning and the importance of conversations, which she firmly believes empower all involved and provide support and peace of mind.

Melanie looks forward to supporting you on your doula journey.

 Kathy Elder

Kathy Elder

Finance and Administration Support

Kathy has worked for over 20 years in the Finance sector, with roles in Banking and Vic Government Department of Justice. She is excited to help Preparing the Way support the training and development of doulas by providing administrative assistance to the team.

Kathy has experienced first-hand the benefits and knowledge that come from having a doula alongside her and her family as they lived the end of life journey of Kathy’s husband. He was diagnosed with a terminal illness in August 2021 and died in September 2023. Kathy is grateful that through her role at Preparing the Way, she can support the important work of end of life doulas.

Cosette Paneque

Digital Consultant

With 15 years of working in digital communications, Cosette specialises in online community and social media management, data and analytics, content creation, and digital strategy and governance for corporate and not-for-profit organisations.

Cosette has worked for Breast Cancer Network Australia, BreastScreen Victoria and Advance Care Planning Australia. She joined Preparing the Way after completing end of life doula training. Based in Melbourne, she helps look after our website and social media.

Portrait of Tilly Stevens.

Tilly Stevens

End of Life Doula Coordinator, New Zealand

Tilly trained with Preparing the Way in 2019 and has been the New Zealand End of Life Doula Co-ordinator (or our “kiwi on the ground”) since 2021, where she helps to support all our New Zealand end of life doulas and the running of our NZ courses.

Tilly’s primary area of end of life doula work is on helping to raise awareness around end of life planning and the importance of conversations so that individuals and their families feel supported and empowered to plan and prepare well for end of life.

Tilly has a Diploma in Health and Human Behaviour and a Diploma in Positive Psychology and Wellbeing Science and is a Member of the Association of Death Education and Counselling (ADEC).

Associations

HELD badge
NDAN logo

Recognition

Heart of Australia certificate
2023 HU Australia Gum Tree Award
2022 Aus Womens Small Business Awards

Acknowledgements

Aboriginal Flag

First Nations

Preparing the Way acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities as the traditional custodians of the land we work on, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. As an inclusive organisation we also celebrate people of all backgrounds, genders, sexualities, cultures, bodies and abilities.

Aboriginal Flag

LGBTIQ+ Inclusive

We acknowledge the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer communities. Recognising the limitations of the ‘LGBTIQ+’ acronym, we extend this acknowledgement to include anyone who may be part of the wider diversity of bodies, genders, sexualities, relationships, and identities, and pay our respects to their Elders and allies, past and present.