Our Heritage

Karuna was founded in 1992 by Venerable Pende Hawter, a Buddhist monk who saw a need in Brisbane to provide comfort and guidance for people facing a life limiting illness. With the help of a small but dedicated team of like-minded health care professionals Pende established a not-for-profit home hospice service offering information and holistic care. He called the service “Karuna”, a word which means Compassion.

Pende’s vision was to enable people with incurable illness to live in comfort and peace in the familiar and reassuring surrounds of their own home.


Today the original vision continues through two core service streams – Karuna Home & Community Palliative Care, a no-fee nursing and counselling service and Karuna Care of the Mind support, learning programs and resources, available to help people live a happier life and to support them in coping with uncertainty about the future and making sense of life’s challenges.

Karuna’s staff and volunteers are of diverse faiths and spiritual traditions, but united in values and how serve others with compassion and kindness. Karuna provides a trusted source of knowledge and compassion.

Backed by a modern business structure, our nurses, counsellors, educators and volunteers provide much needed services to thousands of people in any given year.

Buddhist Values

Gently underpinning our work, our spiritual foundation derives from Tibetan Buddhism, specifically the teachings and practices of Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1983) and Lama Zopa Rinpoche of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Karuna is one of 200 global FPMT service and teaching organisations. Learn more about the FPMT here.

In serving the community we follow the inspirational ideals and examples set by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose own lifelong mission is to serve others with universal compassion and kindness. We are grateful that in 2007, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Karuna and accepted our request to be Karuna’s Spiritual Patron.

Our Vision of the Future

Our vision is to continue to grow our service so that the many people who seek our support may benefit. Our aim is that through care and education we will help people live a rich and meaningful life and be better prepared for the choices they need to make in relation to the end.