Cultural Diversity & Sands

Sands is becoming more inclusive of cultural diversity through the expansion of our services. We now provide services that enable access for parents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including new migrants and refugees. 

This includes:

1) Face to face support visits with interpreters

2) Help-sheets translated into community languages

3) Raising awareness and capacity through seminars for health professionals

4) Establishment of a unique website of references and resources to record development of Sands' cultural diveristy inclusiveness initiative

 model of concern LMCF 2


 For more information visit our sub-site here



We offer 1 hour face-to-face visits for parents from culturally and lingusitically diverse backgrounds. At these visits, a Sands Parent Supporter will attend with an interpreter. Visits are free of charge. The aim of these visits is to offer parents empathy and support around their experiences of bereavement, with an awareness of cultural differences in relation to grief and recognising that each parent grieves uniquely regardless of their background.

Visits can take place at a location suited to the parents. The Sands Victoria office in Surrey Hills is available, or a parents home or health/community centre may be preferred. 

If you would like to find out more, please contact 

P: 03 8595 2400

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


We now can offer parents two help sheets which have been translated in 10 community languages. Help sheets are titled:

"What to do if your baby hasn't survived"

"Organising a funeral for your baby"

Languages include: Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Farsi, Dari, Chin Hakha, Tamil, Hindi, Karen and English. We hope to include more languages soon.

Link to find the help-sheets:

As well as online, these help-sheets are available for order as A4 double sided documents. We have distributed copies to hospitals, community health services and migrant resource centres. 

If you would like to order, please contact Sands P: 03 8595 2400 


Reference and resource website; Perinatal Grief, Refugee Trauma & Cultural Diversity Inclusion Initiative

To document our work and research in the development of understanding and organisational capacity to support bereaved parents from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, we have developed a sub-website.

 Information of relevance


It is important to look at the global context. Stillbirth rates, for example, vary greatly internationally. It is important to note that, in 2009 the national stillbirth rate was approximately 2.9/1000 births. This is relatively low compared to other countries. Based on the 118 countries examined in the study referred to below, stillbirth rates are highest in Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh. 

Overall the stillbirth and neonatal death rates are far higher in countries from which many of the refugees living in Australia orginate. 



Reference: Cousens S, Blencowe H, Stanton C, Chou D, Say L, Lawn JE  et al. National, regional, and worldwide estimates of stillbirth rates in 2009 with trends since 1995: a systematic analysis. Lancet April 2011. 
Stillbirth rates and numbers use WHO definition of  birthweight of at least 1000 g or a gestational age of at least 28 weeks (third-trimester stillbirth).


*Australia:  2.9/1000 births

  Country    (alphabetical)                   2009 1995 Average annual rate reduction 1995 - 2009
  Estimated Stillbirth rate (per 1000 total births) Estimated Numbers of stillbirths Estimated Stillbirth rate (per 1000 total births) Estimated Numbers of stillbirths
 1 PAKISTAN 47 264550 51 249619 0.6
NIGERIA 42 264390 46 234567 0.7
BANGLADESH 36 128550 45 183748 1.5
DJIBOUTI 34 850 37 918 0.7
SENEGAL 34 16660 35 13498 0.3
SIERRA LEONE 30 7030 30 5352 0.0
SOMALIA 30 12450 30 9590 0.1
AFGHANISTAN 29 39310 30 27814 0.2
CHAD 29 15260 29 9984 -0.2
10  DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO 29 86130 32 75200 0.9
11  BURUNDI 28 8060 28 7483 0.1
12  MOZAMBIQUE 28 25660 31 21690 0.5
13  MAURITANIA 27 3070 27 2378 -0.2
14  BURKINA FASO 26 19870 27 13338  
15  CAMEROON 26 18660 27 15014 0.3
16  ETHIOPIA 26 82370 28 75826  
17  GAMBIA 26 1650 28 1332 0.5
18  UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA 26 47550 29 37333 0.8
19  ZAMBIA 26 14380 27 11298 0.4


Based on the above, we can say that in 2009, the stillbirth rate in:

  • Pakistan was approx. 16 times higher than in Australia
  • Nigeria was approx. 14 times higher than in Australia
  • Bangladesh, Djibouti and Senegal was approx. 12 times higher than in Australia
  • Sierra Leone, Somalia, Afghanistan, Chad and The Congo was approx. 10 times higher than in Australia


 Some of the woman who arrive in Australia as refugees, are granted a "Women at Risk visa. in recognition of the priority given by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the protection of refugee women in particularly vulnerable situations." (Commonwealth of Australia 2013, p. 5). This visa type is an off-shore visa type and is one of 5 different off-shore visas offered by Australia (at the time of publication of our reference, 2013).  

"It is estimated that 80 per cent of the world's refugees are woman and children. They are forced to flee their homes and their countries; many suffer violence, torture, sexual abuse and hunger." (Commonwealth of Australia 2013, p. 7). 

"The majority are younger than 26years old; however, about 20 per cent are older than 50 years of age." (Commonwealth of Australia 2013, p. 8)

"The top five countries of birth for Women at Risk refugees during 2012-13 were Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia." (Commonwealth of Australia 2013, p. 8). The stillbirth rates in these countries, based on 2009 statistics are as follows; 29/1000 births in Afghanistan, 9/1000 in Iraq, 20/1000 in Myanmar, 29/1000 in The Congo, and 30/1000 in Somalia. This is much higher than the rate of 2.9/1000 deaths in Australia, at the same time. 


Looking at Afghanistan, while the stillbirth rate was 29/1000 births, the neo-natal mortality rate was even higher, at 36.3 per 1000 live births (in 2013) (Source: Afgahistan DHS 2010-11 (2005 estimates), WHO)



The Australian Government Department of Social Services, 2013, Getting settled: women refugees in Australia, The Commonwealth of Australia