Q/ Where does Beyond Words operate?

Metropolitan Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria (currently based on trained volunteers being in these areas).  We are hoping to expand our regional reach.

Q/ What is the profile of Beyond Words clients?

Our service is provided to people living in aged care residences who are able to relate their memories and life stories to our volunteer biographers for one hour per week.

Q/ Is the service provided for free?

Yes. We’re a small not-for-profit initiative. Donations are most welcome…! (see “Donate” )

Q/ If the service is free, how is it funded?

We’re currently exploring partnerships with potential funders and sponsorship ranging from aged care facilities, philanthropic trusts, government grants, donors and business.

Q/ What happens to the final biography when it’s finished?

The client determines who can have access to the final publication. During the first session clients are asked to nominate their level of chosen access to the final document.

Q/ Is it like an interview, counselling or a conversation?

It is not a journalistic interview – it is the client who directs what they want to say and write. Stories are recorded in the person’s own words and in their own unique way.

It is not a series of counselling sessions – Beyond Words isn’t for everyone – in order to access the service a client must be assessed as suitable.

It is not a conversation in the conventional sense – but a process whereby one person’s life story is communicated first verbally, then on paper.

Q/ How long does an average biography take?

From start to finish, the average is about 3 months, based on one face to face one hour sessions a week for 8 weeks. After the visits are completed, the biography is finalised by the volunteer, then reviewed by the editing team. The biography is then printed and a time is organised to present the biography to the client.

Q/ How is the biography presented?

It is the client’s choice, but most decide to have a small gathering of family and friends at which the biography is presented to them by their biographer.

Q/ What happens to the drafts and the audio recordings when the biography is finished?

Beyond Words creates a safe space for clients to reflect on their life experiences and its various meanings. Due to the nature of storytelling, often things are expressed during sessions which the client may not want printed in the final document. As it is the client’s story, draft material is deleted and the client decides what goes into the final publication through a read through each week of the previous week’s recording.

Q/ Do volunteers need to be vaccinated?

Yes, both up to date covid and flu vaccinations need to be provided based on the aged care residence policy.

Q/ What is the volunteer time commitment required per biography?

An average 4-5 hours per week for recording and transcription/editing.

Q/ How many biographies is a volunteer expected to deliver?

We request that our volunteers commit to completing two biographies per year.

Q/ How can I provide feedback on the experience of having a biography completed?

Please fill in our online survey or email info@thebiographyprogram.org.au