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Take Part in Run Melbourne 31 July 2017

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Walk, Jog or Run for bereaved parents across Australia!

Join Sands' Run Melbourne team today and walk, jog or run through the iconic streets of Melbourne to raise vital funds for Sands.

Your efforts will help us continue to provide essential support to parents and families following the the heartbreak of miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.

Every year, in Australia, over 96,000 parents are faced with the tragedy of pregnancy loss and newborn death. If you or a loved one has gone through such a devastating loss, you will understand why our task is so important.

All #TeamSands members will recieve a free Sands running singlet and visor. You will also be invited to join our private Run Melbourne Facebook group and a chance to make a real differnce to the thounsands of families who go through such devstating loss.

Join #TeamSands today in 2 easy steps

Ready to get started? We'd love to have you on our team! Register today in 2 simple steps:

1. Join #TeamSands

Sign up for your own individaul fundraising page where you can share your story and recieve donations of support. If you would like to run with friends, family or colleagues, please also ask them to register their fundraising page. Sign up now

2. Book your entry to run

Register on the Run Melbourne website. If you are running with a group, each participant must register to take part in the event.

Already registered with Run Melbourne but not fundraising for any charity? It's not too late to fundraise for Sands, click on the sign up now link below to register your fundraising page and welcome to #TeamSands.

Recruiting Now! Volunteer Parent Supporters, Sydney Metro Area

can you help sign

  • Are you a bereaved parent who has been through the heartache of a pregnancy loss or newborn death?
  • Would you like to help other bereaved parents during their time of intense grief?
  • Has it been more than 12 months since you lost your baby?
  • Do you live in or around the Sydney Metro area?
  • Are you free to attend two full days of training in Sydney (Hornsby area) on Saturday, 25th & Sunday 26th February?

If YES, we would love to hear from you.

Sands is excited to announce we are again extending our local presence in NSW and we are looking to recruit and train up to six new volunteers to facilitate support meetings for bereaved parents.

Interested in applying or finding out more information?

Complete the Volunteer Expression Form and we will be in touch. If you have completed one of these forms already, we will be in touch with you in the near future.

End of Year Reflections, CEO Sands Australia

Andre

It’s the end of my second year at Sands and it’s been another year of exciting change and growth as we continued to expand our reach and support to more bereaved families across Australia.

Since launching our new strategy at the end of 2015, Sands entered a period of growth during 2016 where demand for our telephone, email and live chat services increased. We supported over 2,500 bereaved parents through our national services during 2016, a 25% increase compared to the previous year and the most parents we have supported in a 12 month period throughout our 37 year history.

Whist it is very positive that we are supporting more families, with almost 100,000 families experiencing the death of a baby each year through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, medically advised termination, stillbirth or neonatal death, we know that there is still much to be done.

The year started very positively. The Department of Health who funds our core costs and part of our services confirmed that they would be funding us for a further 12 months until June 2017. This funding is a lifeline to Sands and ensures we can continue to operate around the clock. Throughout the last few months, we have worked closely with the Department as they seek to introduce changes to how they fund mental health services and we are now waiting to hear whether we will be funded post June 2017. Whilst this funding is critically important for Sands, it unfortunately does not provide all the funds needed to run all our services and we are very grateful to the many donors, fundraisers and supporters who contributed to our organisation.

One of our aims this year was to reach out to more parents across Australia. We recruited Regional Training Officers across the states to help us train more volunteers, more often. As a result of this, we ran seven training sessions across Melbourne, Tasmania, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane and trained over 30 Volunteer Parent Supporters. We launched two new slots on Live Chat, meaning that this service is now available four days per week. We made improvements to our email service meaning that more volunteers are now on shift and we achieved a long term ambition of restarting our services in NSW.

The first half of 2016 was also a very important period for the five state Sands organisations and Sands Australia, the national body. We consulted extensively with our members, volunteers and staff on the question of how the organisation should be structured going forward. We want to ensure we reach as many parents as possible across Australia, regardless of location or background and to ensure we can achieve this, we need to improve how we support and grow our grass roots community of parents and volunteers.

During July, we held Sands 24/7 for the second year running. Our Annual Fundraiser is an opportunity to bring our community together on the 24 July each year to raise awareness that our services operate around the clock but also that we need support to make this happen. We had over 50 generous fundraisers who took part in running or walking events, skydiving from 14,000ft and morning teas which raised a fantastic $34,000 for Sands. We have some exciting plans for 2017 which we look forward to announcing in the New Year – do ensure you save the date, 24 July 2017.

In the run up to Pregnancy & Infant Loss Month during October, Sands planned a number of activities to raise awareness of our cause. All 150 Members of Parliament received a letter from us with vital information about our work; a large number of them proceeded to wear the Sands Pin on the 15 October and we received supportive letters from Minister for Health, Sussan Ley and Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. In addition, we asked our Social Media supporters to #goPinkandBlue in their profile picture and we were very pleased that over 2,500 supporters did so, raising vital awareness across Social Media.

This year saw another positive – it was our busiest year in the media with over 100 news stories and five Regional and two National TV appearances. This has helped immensely with raising awareness of who we are and what we do so that families hear of us and access our services. It has also helped to raise awareness of pregnancy loss and whilst we are not there yet, started the process of breaking the taboo that surrounds the issue.

Looking ahead to 2017 promises to be an equally exciting but challenging year.

We will find out if our funding from the Department of Health will continue post June 2017. We will continue to work very closely with the Department during early 2017 to continue to make our case. We have developed an exciting corporate partnership for Sands 24/7 which promises to turn it into a very big event across Australia. Stay tuned and we look forward to communicating more in the New Year. We look forward to starting two new Support Groups in the Sydney area as part of our plans to establish our services in NSW. Volunteer Training will take place in early 2017 so do stay tuned for volunteer recruitment announcements on our Facebook Page. We also look forward to developing services in ACT and NT in the latter part of 2017. We also look forward to launching our new work to support healthcare professionals. Our ambition is to ensure all professionals that engage with bereaved families have the right level of knowledge and information to ensure families are well supported. We look forward to developing new initiatives to help realise this ambition. We look forward to bring you 'Lives Unlived' - a very ambitious project which will aim to break the taboo that surrounds the death of a baby and start a national conversation on the issue. 2017 also promises to be a huge year for how we look and operate as an organisation as the State Sands Members vote on the proposals to improve our operating model. The end result will be more support for parents locally which is at the core of why these changes need to happen.

We are also looking forward to our inaugural Sands Gala which will take place in Hobart, Tasmania on the 18 March 2017. The event will be an opportunity to bring together our current and new supporters and the event will rotate to a different state each year. We hope to see you there.

I would like to express my huge thanks to all Sands supporters, donors, fundraisers, volunteers and members. Because of your contribution, Sands is able to provide a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space for many parents and families. We could not do what we do without your support and we hope that you will continue to support our work for many years to come.

Wishing you and your family a very happy New Year.

Andre Carvalho

Getting Through the Festive Season

ChristmasSmallAshleigh and Sebastien, share some thoughts on how to tackle the holiday season when your baby is missing from the festivities.

Dominic Christophe Rousseaux, Ashleigh and Sebastien’s second child and much loved first son was stillborn in October 2014 when Ashleigh was 39 weeks’ pregnant. Dominic has two beautiful sisters, 4 year old Juliette and little sister Sophie who is almost 1.

I find Christmas time, actually all happy, family-oriented occasions, to be highly emotional and conflicting. It is hard to be happy at such a joyful occasion when someone so important is so painfully absent and missing out. Yet, at the same time, the sad times we have been through make the happy ones feel more intense and filled with more gratitude than they would have been before. This happiness often leads to guilt. Is it insulting to my son if I feel happiness when he isn't here? For me, I have found that the way to get beyond the guilt is to acknowledge him as part of the celebrations.

My favourite thing to do to start the holiday season is to place a small, wooden Christmas tree next to my son's photo. We do this on the same day that we set up our own Christmas tree, and it stays up for as long as the real one does.

This year my four-year-old daughter had the honour of placing Dominic's tree. It is a wonderful and memorable way to bring him into the Christmas season with us and include him as part of an annual family ritual. We do the same thing at Easter time with a wooden bunny. Finding little things like this to do brings me an enormous amount of peace, knowing that our family will always know and acknowledge our baby who is not here with us anymore, and it helps me to carry on with the rest of the festivities, knowing that we have done something that is just for him.

I find that it helps to make those who spend time around us over the holidays aware of how we feel about remembering our son. At the start of the holiday season, I will often share a social post about loss that resonates with me, so that those who we may cross paths with or who might be thinking of sending us a card know how we feel. This year I shared a post from Sands:

"Christmas is a difficult time for us.The grief we have for our son that died is caught up in all the things he will miss, but he is still our son and it is lovely to see him remembered in the Christmas cards we receive.Don't be afraid to include our son's name in Christmas cards this year. Thank you for your love and support."

Friends and family who have not experienced a similar loss may not realise that the emotions intensify around special occasions, so a brief reminder like this in the lead-up to the event helps them to remember that the holidays are not a time of pure joy for us.

When big occasions arrive, I find that my son and his absence is at the forefront of my mind, and I used to find myself waiting to see if friends and family were going to mention him to me. Having this expectation of people to make the first move, meant I was often disappointed or hurt when he was not acknowledged. Now I make the first move and acknowledge him early on so that others can follow my lead, knowing that they can talk about him and include him without worrying about upsetting me. I have only ever regretted the times I DIDN'T mention my son, so I have found this to be enormously helpful with difficult situations.

When someone does make an effort to mention my son, I make sure to let them know how meaningful it is to me. Expressing gratitude to them helps them to remember my reaction and makes them more likely to mention him again next time, which warms my heart!
Ashleigh


From Sebastien:

Something that was helpful for my wife and I was to agree that it is ok to be sad and that this is normal. At the same time, it is better to let yourself enjoy things rather than thinking "I can't be happy right now". This winds up with a bit of an emotional roller coaster as you could be happily enjoying something nice, when suddenly it hits you that your baby is missing. This hits suddenly, like a wall, like you unexpectedly miss-stepped and have suddenly fallen down a pit, and it sucks.

But if others, most importantly your partner, know this and are prepared for this, all you need to know is that you/your partner is missing the baby. And it's ok to let yourself cry. We found that this helps to get it out of your system, and that your emotions settle down afterwards. It is also a way of acknowledging the child you are missing, which is important to us. It actually helped us feel better - not about what happened - but about ourselves and what we hold dear, which is our family.

By giving each other permission to be sad in this way it is a whole lot less stressful than trying to 'keep it together'. Trying to suppress showing any emotion, either good or bad, just adds a pile of stress to what is already one of the worst experiences of your life.