Symposium speaker Sue Pieters-Hawke was born in Canberra in 1957 and grew up in Melbourne.
She has studied law, history, complementary health and healing, yoga, qigong and Tibetan Buddhism. While raising her two children, she worked part time as a publicist/fundraiser and project manager, and she established a clinic and school with two Chinese qigong masters.
As she held down the responsibilities of being a mother and a working professional, she also had to confront the tragic reality that her mother, a pianist and beloved patron in the Australian arts world, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Her experiences of caring for her ailing mother and walking with her through the onset of her disease became the basis for the book, “Hazel's Journey: A personal experience of Alzheimer's”, a joint effort between Sue and her mother. The book has been an inspiration to countless Australians and has become a bestseller with sales of more than 50,000 copies.
In 2011, Sue published “Hazel: My Mother's Story”, another non-fiction work in which she explored her mother's personal challenges in life and in sickness.
Sue has become a sought-after speaker, especially regarding issues of social responsibility and personal empowerment. She's an outspoken activist for dementia and has served as a co-chair on the Federal Minister's Dementia Advisory Group. She was also selected as the first National Ambassador for Alzheimer's Australia.
As a keynote speaker, Sue’s style is honest and humorous. Her unique insights are firmly grounded in her personal experiences.
“As Publicity Director for Pan Macmillan Australia I travelled with Sue for six weeks promoting her book Hazel’s Journeythroughout Australia. I promote many authors, and I can honestly say Sue is one of the best speakers I have had the pleasure of managing. Sue has a unique ability to get the audience’s attention, and what’s more, to keep it. She somehow manages to keep an audience completely with her. You could not hear a pin drop. She seems to know instinctively how far to go, when to pull back, when to be serious and when and how to lighten things up. Her audiences were 100% engaged. That her book has sold over 50,000 copies is a testament not only to the public interest in Hazel and Alzheimer’s but also to the word of mouth interest that Sue generates in all her speaking engagements and media interviews.”
”Sue was a dream - very articulate and just terrific talent, as we say in the business - we had a great deal of feedback from listeners from her interview.”