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Making bereaved parents’ voices count at the Stillbirth Roundtable

On Tuesday 12 February the Government will convene a round table to address the rate of stillbirth in Australia, following recommendations made in the Senate Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education’s 2018 report.

In collaboration with clinicians, researchers and advocacy groups, the round table work to develop a National Action Plan to set funding priorities and decide how those recommendations will be implemented.

Sands Australia CEO, Ms Jackie Mead, says it’s crucial the voices of those who’ve actually experienced stillbirth are considered when decisions about the future of education, counselling, research and clinical care are being made.

“There’s no doubt that research to minimise preventable stillbirth is paramount, but we must not forget to address the needs of the 143 families whose babies will be stillborn as each month of 2019 passes as well as the many thousands who’ve already experienced the tragedy of going home from the hospital without their baby,” said Ms Mead.

“Significant investment is required to support bereaved parents who are experiencing stillbirth now.”

In a recent survey of over 1000 parents who’ve experienced stillbirth, Sands found that respondents overwhelmingly identified grief education, acute bereavement care and practical assistance returning to ‘normal’ life as the key priorities that would make a difference to their experience.

Sands currently provides training and professional development opportunities to health care workers in the principles of best practice bereavement care in maternity settings, but Ms Mead says we need to raise the bar once more.

“We know that bereaved parents support needs don’t end when they walk out of the hospital doors,” said Ms Mead. “They’re ongoing – sometimes for a very long time and there is currently a real gap in services bridging that hospital to home divide.”

One of the major milestones for which bereaved parents seek Sands’ support is returning to work after the death of their baby.

“There is a real opportunity for Sands to provide parents and their employers with greater support when returning to work through the provision of workplace education and support programs.”

"At work I needed help communicating to colleagues and clients on how to ‘be’ around me and how to talk to me,” said one respondent, echoing calls from more than half of the total number of respondents for more flexible work practices.

“Whilst the statutory right to equal leave provisions for parents affected by stillbirth is crucial, it’s not just how much time they are able to take off work that makes a difference but the work practices and culture that support their eventual return to the workplace,” said Ms Mead.

Melbourne mum, Margaret Polacska, describes returning to work after the death of her baby son, Noah, as “difficult”.

“Although my manager and colleagues were very supportive, facing people around my workplace who had known I was pregnant and didn’t know my baby had died caused me great anxiety. I knew I would be potentially asked how my baby was.”

Margaret said her employer’s willingness to provide her as much flexibility as possible made a huge difference in reducing her stress.

“For example, focusing on the task at hand at times was almost impossible.” she said. “I had to run a writing workshop a few weeks after returning to work and my brain was unable to think more than 5 minutes ahead. It was extremely challenging to do tasks that previously were second nature. I needed to adapt to take this into account and my employer’s expectations therefore had to adapt too.”

Recognition of the long-term impact Noah’s death would have on Margaret’s life has been an important deciding factor in her employment choices as time has gone on, too.

“There’s no time limit on grief,” she said. “Each year, for example, I take leave on the day of the anniversary of when my son was stillborn. It’s just as important for workplaces to recognise that bereaved parents require time off work for milestone days even years later, because these days are so emotional.”

All you need is love this Valentine's Day


This February we invite you to participate in a special act of love for your baby, or a bereaved parent you know, by naming a special Valentine’s Day recipe in their honour.

This gift is one that will truly keep on giving as all money raised through the sale of our chocolate shortbread heart cookie recipes will help Sands deliver our peer support services to parents who are grieving the loss of a much-wanted pregnancy or dearly loved baby.

Each day our volunteers perform countless small but mighty acts of love to ensure each bereaved parent who comes to Sands is met with empathy and understanding. Your small act today will help a fellow mum or dad know they are not alone.

With your donation of $25 or more during February you’ll receive our beautiful Valentine’s Day recipe keepsake by email to print or distribute as you wish.
Visit to receive your personalised recipe.

Valentine's Day recipes are available until Thursday 28 February. Don't miss out!

Melbourne-based training opportunity for future Sands volunteer parent supporters


We're running training in our Surrey Hills office on Sunday 10th March for bereaved parents interested in providing phone support or facilitating local support groups in Flemington & Mordialloc.

Our volunteer parent supporters are the lifeblood of Sands. They provide crucial one-on-one and group support to other bereaved parents who reach out to talk to someone who understands what they are going through.

What does it take to become a parent supporter? There's no magic formula or qualification, but rather we're looking for a unique set of qualities (empathy, compassion) combined with lived experience to ensure that our services are available 24/7 to those who need them.

If you think you've got what we are looking for, or know someone who does, we would love to hear from you

'Stir in the love' this Christmas

stir in the love 1

This Christmas we’re asking bereaved families, their friends and loved ones to ‘stir in the love’ for a baby they’re missing by baking a special Christmas recipe to share in their honour.

Sands have six tried and tested Christmas recipes available to help you create new family memories to treasure.

When you make a donation of $25 or more to Sands this Christmas, you'll receive your choice of recipe as a beautiful printable PDF, personalised with your baby's name or any other name of your choice.

You'll be helping Sands provide much-needed support for bereaved parents through the emotional Christmas season and beyond as well as marking the beginning of a new and special annual tradition for your family in honour of a baby you love and miss.

Choose from:

  • Rudolph Cupcakes
  • Candy Cane Cookies
  • Christmas Tree Cake
  • Christmas Pudding Truffles
  • Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Stained-Glass Window Biscuits

These easy-to-bake treats will make a great school holiday project for siblings or a thoughtful gift on someone's doorstep when you don't have the words to let them know you're thinking about them this Christmas.

Make your Christmas gift count this year.

Visit to donate and receive your recipe or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.