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Sands welcomes renewed funding to provide bereavement support services to QLD community

Queensland families experiencing pregnancy or infant loss will not face their journey alone thanks to the Queensland Government’s announcement that it will renew funding to Sands to continue providing peer support services for bereaved parents across the state.

As part of the Government’s Community Self Care grants program, Sands will receive $308,190 over three years to ensure the continuation of services right through until 30 June 2022.

Sands’ Queensland State Manager, Ashleigh Rousseaux, said the grant means Sands can continue to offer a range of support services to families affected by miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death, including its  community events, online support, as well as the face-to-face support groups that enable bereaved parents to finally connect and share their experiences with others who understand.

“We thank the Queensland government for their ongoing commitment to reducing the burden of grief bereaved parents and their families carry after the death of their baby,” said Ms Rousseaux.

“Knowing Sands will be there for them if and when they need support gives grieving parents the reassurance they need to face another day as well as, importantly, a sense of hope for the future.”

Help shape our national day of recognition, remembrance & connection

Your opinion matters

On Mon 25 March, we’ll be holding our first national ‘Say Their Name Day’, a day of recognition, remembrance and connection intended to help reduce the stigma of pregnancy and infant loss by reinforcing the idea that every baby matters and deserves to be celebrated.

We'd like to invite you to help us grow this concept into one that bereaved families across Australia will want to participate in by providing your feedback and helping to shape our future planning.

We've organised the following community events where we'll come together to ask you to be a part of our #saytheirname community:

7pm Monday 25 March
Goodwood Community Centre
32-34 Rosa Street, Goodwood (enter via entrance on Rosa St and follow signs)

10am Thursday 28 March
Sands House
505 Bowen Terrace, New Farm

1pm Sunday 24 March
Dome Maylands
219-221 Railway Parade, Maylands

At these events we'll remember those babies who have died as well as spend time together as a community, planning for the future. This will be an opportunity for you to have an impact on the development of what we hope will become a well-known and acknowledged day both in the bereaved parent community and beyond.

If you’d like to be involved, please get in touch with your State Coordinator to RSVP to your local event:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (VIC)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (QLD)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (WA)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (SA)

**Feedback/ideas are also welcome by email for those who can’t get to our gathering.

Hospital to Home – a new service to support grieving families following stillbirth

Today the Federal Government’s Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, announced the launch of National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, with an investment of $52 million to improve women’s health. As part of this announcement, $1.3 million will go towards launching a Hospital to Home service to support families following a stillbirth.

Sands Australia CEO, Jackie Mead, says “this announcement is a wonderful step in ensuring that continued care is available to families throughout Australia. It gives recognition that the Government hears bereaved parents and understands the impact of stillbirth on grieving families”.

Hospital to Home is an 18-month pilot program to be rolled out in five hospitals throughout Australia, using these bases to provide outreach support to bereaved parents across the community.

Ms Mead says that ongoing support to families is a must. “With approximately six families every day losing a baby to stillbirth, Sands recognises the need to provide continued support for those who feel isolated and lost in the days following the death of a baby. One of the key messages amongst the bereaved parent community is that it is the time after leaving the hospital, when you are at a house set-up for a new baby, without a baby to care for, that is the hardest”.

Ms Mead stresses “the importance of providing families with the offer of having support when they leave the hospital and arrive home”. Sands will be on-had to offer in hospital support to assist with memory making and funeral arrangements. Upon returning home Sands will deliver a peer supported model that provides connections to professional services, where required. The specifics of each program will be tailored to the family.

Ms Mead states that “when a family loses a baby there is a need for person centered care from someone who understands. We want to offer a parent-led approach to bereavement care so that parents can decide where they need help”.

Sands peer support model has worked for 40 years to ensure that there is always someone there for families who have experienced the loss of a baby. This pilot expands upon existing services including the 24/7 phone line, online chat services and fact to face peer support groups already available.

Say our babies' names this 25 March

On 25 March, Sands are inviting the community to support the first national ‘Say Their Name Day’, a day of recognition, remembrance and connection intended to help reduce the stigma of pregnancy and infant loss by reinforcing the idea that every baby matters and deserves to be celebrated.

The concept for ‘Say Their Name Day’ came about in response to feedback Sands received from bereaved parents as part of a survey undertaken in the lead up to the National Round Table into stillbirth research and education early in 2019.

“One of the most common things bereaved parents told Sands is how much the opportunity to say their baby’s name, and to hear it from others, means to them. Contrary to what people may think, talking to/with bereaved families about their baby does not compound their grief – it is often a welcome opportunity to express their love,” said Sands CEO, Jackie Mead.

Sands intends ‘Say Their Name Day’ to grow into a national awareness day that will encourage more people to talk openly about miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.

To support this, Sands has also released a new fact sheet called ‘Words Matter’ to guide family, friends, neighbours and colleagues in what it’s helpful to do or say when someone’s baby has died,” said Ms Mead.

“A stigma continues to exist when discussing a baby who has died. Sadly this leaves parents feeling isolated and alone. We want to help reduce this stigma by helping people feel more comfortable reaching out to a friend, colleague or family member to offer support.”

“Respectfully sharing stories and listening to grieving parents are two simple ways we can ensure that every family who experiences the death of a baby feels understood and supported.”
Melbourne couple Amy and Shaun Hidge say the act of saying their baby’s name, or hearing it from others, is empowering.

“It brings joy and warms my heart every time a friend or family member mentions Stella’s name because it reminds me that she played a very special part in all of our lives,” Amy said.

“A good friend recently presented me with a special gift with Stella’s name on it and I was completely overwhelmed with love and happiness to know that our Stella touched so many.”

How can people participate?

On or before 25 March bereaved families are invited to write their baby’s name on a paper heart and share with us via social media using the hashtag #saytheirname. These names will be gathered onto a heart-shaped display in the Sands national office, which will provide a visual representation of each family’s love for their baby.

Ms Mead said it’s important that the many parents who chose not to or weren’t able to name their babies can participate in ‘Say Their Name Day’ too.

“Just because a baby was not named formally does not reduce the sense of loss and grief experienced by families. We want those families to know that they can include their baby’s family name, a nickname used during pregnancy, a significant date, or meaningful symbol to represent their baby,” she said.

The wider community are invited to download our fact sheet, ‘Words Matter’, to share it widely, to start a conversation with a loved one whose baby has died to let them know their baby is remembered, or to share stories of pregnancy and infant loss to raise awareness and reduce stigma in the general community.