COVID-19 has cut off long-term aged care residents from family, friends and the rest of the world.

We’ve developed an on-line course that puts students in contact with residents to assist them in writing their life stories. The isolation residents have experienced has been devastating for many and this is your chance to help alleviate their loneliness while learning about the challenges of ageing and aged care.

The online version of the 3144LHS Biography Course offered in Trimester 2 is open to all 3rd year students. Anyone wishing to take the course who is not in 3rd year can consult with the instructor for special permission to enrol (

The course focuses on the challenges of aging and the importance of life stories at the end of life. It primarily consists of fieldwork that involves working remotely one on one with a long-term care resident. Enrolments are limited so if you are interested please sign up for the course.

In the course, you will work with a long-term care resident in a care facility in Brisbane to assist them in writing their life story. Prior to starting your visits, you will undergo intensive online practical training in biography writing, cultural sensitivity and working with vulnerable patients. Training will be facilitated by the teaching and volunteer biography training team. The teaching and volunteer team will be available for support and guidance throughout the course.

Following training, you will arrange online meeting with your designated long-term care resident 1 to 2 times a week for 1-1.5 hour-long sessions once or twice a week, as needed. Such sessions will be scheduled by you and your resident at a time that is mutually convenient. During these sessions, you will interview and record your resident’s life story remotely.

When not meeting with your resident, you will set time aside to transcribe and edit their recorded biography sessions. You will also take part in two 1.5 hour focus group discussions over the course of the trimester to share your experiences and to engage key questions that inform the course in relation to your own observations and assigned readings. Two short quizzes will test you on your training and readings. You will have a short paper to write on a reading related to the biography process. Discussions forums will enable you to check in and share your experiences with the teaching team and your peers as appropriate.

At the end of the course, you and your resident will have produced a 30-70 page book of your resident’s life story (length depends on how much each residents has to say). At the end of the process, you will submit a final reflection on your experience of the biography process in which you will consider the impact of working in long-term care, while drawing on readings and discussions from the course. Members of the teaching team can be consulted by email or mobile phone as needed throughout the course.


Applications will be accepted until March 6 2020 at the latest. However, because of the limited number of spots available, we encourage anyone interested to submit an application ass soon as possible.

The course will run in New York from June 11 – 26, 2020

Final scheduling of the two-day intensive training prior to departure will be determined in consultation with students who enrol.

Submissions have now closed. Thank you for your interest.

Selection criteria

Selection will be based on course capacity and your responses to the questions outlined below. As part of this process, a few follow-up questions will be sent to you by email once the course convenor has received your initial responses. *Special permission can be provided in consultation with the course convenor for interested candidates who have not yet completed CP.

Please provide a one to two-page response to the following questions:
  1. What drew you to the Biography Project Overseas Experience: New York?
  2. Describe your study interests and program or study.
  3. How do you think taking part in this course will benefit you personally?
  4. How do you think taking part in this course will benefit your studies?
  5. What relevant experience and skills do you bring to the course/program?
  6. Have you had a personal experience working with the elderly? With death, loss or grief?
  7. This course requires the biographer to write the story of a resident in the words of the story-teller, not the biographer. How would you interpret this?
  8. Would you feel comfortable producing a biography for a client with vastly different cultural &/or spiritual beliefs and traditions to yours? Can you share any experience you might have to demonstrate this ability?
  9. Have you thought about aging and your own mortality? Please explain.

Cost and financial support

Total cost of the course $10,000, this amount covers airfares, accommodation, meals, transportation and other expenses.

You will need to pay an initial deposit of $2500 followed by a second deposit of $6000 (for flights, accommodation and transportation). You will need to bring an additional $1500 on the trip to cover additional expenses and for spending money.

Funding help

Australian undergraduate and Honours students will be entitled to OS-HELP funding of $6913 to cover the cost of the trip and associated expenses. Eligibility for OS-HELP funding is based on having completed at least 80 credit points prior to commencing the study tour. If you have 80 credit points already, you will receive your OS-HELP funds in advance. If not, you will receive your funds once you have 80 credit points.

For further information

Email course convenor, Dr Catherine Dhavernas