With the rise in podcasting, an Albury-based freelance education writer has turned her talents to helping people capture the audio stories of family members, in particular the elderly.
In a world of fake news, scrolling feeds and instant gratification, Dimity Brassil is a strong believer that collecting the stories of our elderly matters.
Border Cafe caught up with Dimity to discuss her venture, A Lasting Tale.
Dimity, How did A Lasting Tale come about?
I am an avid podcast listener and during the year I started researching podcasting, and realised how the power to create good quality audio is now available to all of us.
But I thought – do people know how to use this technology easily and simply? And do people know how to interview – that is, do they know how to start a conversation or what questions to ask about someone’s life?
I next turned to my mother who is 85. She is a really interesting person, and most people – probably even her children and most definitely her grandchildren – wouldn’t know the true extent of her achievements, her community work, or her astute, witty and often acerbic observations on the play of life.
I wanted to hear her stories – in her own voice, to make her story like a personal podcast. And I suspected that other people felt that need.
What has been the response since launching your business?
Very positive and engaged! The mission of A Lasting Tale has resonated, especially with the people wanting to capture the stories of their parents and grandparents, or with their loved ones who are dying. I’ve got a strong following on social media and it is growing every day.
More importantly than the social media statistics, people are talking about it. And that’s what matters to me. This chatter is happening around Albury, Wodonga, Wagga (where I grew up and where my mum still lives) and more broadly – around NSW and Victoria. Once someone hears I am doing it – everyone has something to say about this. They are telling their sisters, brothers, parents, friends. It’s really cool!
Why do you think it’s so important to capture personal stories?
It is not until we have lost someone that we really understand the power of a voice. The desire to just hear that voice one more time. The ability of a voice to evoke the love you shared.
Voice is magic, and to just “hear their voice one more time” is a common refrain.
When I realised that we all have the technology to record that voice at our fingertips, I wanted to give everyone the chance to just hear that voice again.
You’re based in Albury – are you getting feedback from customers elsewhere?
Yes! My questions and instructions have been downloaded in England, Hong Kong and through the east coast of Australia.
Palliative Care Australia is on board with my latest promotion and are promoting it around their network across the country. I’ve conducted personal interviews in Albury, Finley and Rutherglen. I’m conducting my first community workshop at Wagga’s Museum of the Riverina in Wagga in April 2019.
Where does your passion for ‘conversations’ come from?
I was born and raised in Wagga, the youngest of nine children. My mother Anne owned Wagga’s first independent bookshop – The Gateway Bookshop – which is still running today 50 years later. My father Pat was a school teacher by trade.
I grew up surrounded by books and knowledge. The books in the shop overflowed to our home. I was a timid little girl (but still a talker) and I read anything I could get my hands on. My next sister is a professional cellist now, and music was also an integral part of my childhood.
Being the youngest of nine means I have always surrounded by lots of talk, chatter, stories, punk music, political discussions and just general commentary on the world. My family all love a huge chat and live by the mantra – never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
One of my lasting childhood memories is the sound of my parents and elder siblings talking, singing and laughing late into the night. I would lie in my bedroom – often with some nieces and nephews sleeping over – and go to sleep listening to the “music of their voice”.
So, that’s where it is born. The need to hear conversation, the power of stories for human connection sits deep within me.
The family of my childhood has aged, and changed. A reminder that time pulls us ever forward. But their legacy of reading, and art, and music, and laugher – and always having a good story to tell – lives on in me and my own little family.
You’re donating a portion sales to palliative care as part of another venture, why is that important?
My latest venture is Create your Lasting Tale. After launching in September, lots of people (mostly women between 35 and 55) contacted me wanting a one-stop guide so their parents and grandparents could record their own audio stories.
In response, I developed a 21-page PDF download that gives a choice of 66 questions over the lifespan so you can design your own interview – or do a couple of questions every day. The guide also contains simple – yet detailed enough to easily use – steps on how to use a podcasting application on your phone, or how to use your in-built voice memos function.
My support for palliative care is due to personal circumstances. Both my sister Belinda and father Pat received palliative care in Wagga Wagga in 2011, one in an aged care facility and another one at home. At that time, there was no dedicated palliative care facility in Wagga (though there is a small unit in Wagga now).
I helped care for my sister as she died. My personal experience of at-home palliative care (especially for younger people) opened up my eyes to an underfunded, little-recognised and over-worked essential service at the end of life. It was in stark contrast to the support and awareness our community provides at the start of life – because at the same time I had recently welcomed my first child Vivienne to the world.
The juxtaposition of how our community supports the start of the life (excellently) and the end of life (still needing urgent assistance) was made very clear to me. It was a “lightbulb” moment.
I realised then that palliative care was what I would support over my lifetime. Using A Lasting Tale to increase awareness and raise funds for palliative care services has always been part of the goal. I chose Palliative Care Australia especially because part of their work is to support initiatives in regional Australia, to fund palliative care nurses, and to fund projects and monies Australia-wide.
Raising funds and awareness for palliative care services in regional centres should be important to all of us here in Albury-Wodonga. Most of us will encounter palliative care in some way or another, and it can be tough to talk about it. Talking about end of life services is the beginning of raising community awareness and funds.