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Group facilitators urgently needed in northern suburbs of Melbourne

VPSAre you a bereaved parent living in the northern suburbs of Melbourne? We have an urgent need for volunteers to facilitate a monthly support group in the Thornbury area – providing emotional support to bereaved parents in a group setting.

If it has been 12 months or more since your pregnancy loss or the death of your baby and you feel ready to offer this support, please complete an Expression of Interest.

Please note: you must be able to attend training in the Werribee area on the weekend of 17/18 March 2018.

If you have applied for a volunteer position previously, weren’t initially able to attend the training, but are available for the latest training session, please email your details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Sands 2017 Wrap-Up


As the end of the year fast approaches I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the year that was and to let you know about some of our plans for 2018.

2017 has been a positive and productive year, with our services continuing to grow to meet the needs of bereaved parents throughout Australia.

We’re grateful for a 100% increase in federal government funding, which has enabled us to focus on a number of key areas, including the work on improving bereavement care. We’re also very grateful to the many supporters and fundraisers who very kindly donate and raise funds for Sands which ensure we can continue to support the growing number of bereaved families accessing our services.

Over 3,000 mums and dads or grandparents, family members or friends contacted our volunteer parent supporters with their stories of love, loss and grief. Each story has moved us and cemented our goals to ensure that bereaved parents, no matter where they live in Australia, have access to best practice bereavement care, accurate information, and ongoing support.

We’ve made strong progress in moving towards an organisational model that will better enable us to provide this continuity of service, and in mid-2018 Sands state-based organisations will unify into one single Sands. This will enable us to expand our services into new geographical areas that do not currently have a Sands presence and continue to build a strong grass roots presence across Australia.

2018 will also see us launching Australia’s first bereavement care standards for health professionals. Improving the care and support parents receive in a hospital setting after their baby has died is a significant priority that will make a very real difference to families when they are at their most vulnerable.

To further support this aim we will be developing new training programs for health professionals, and for the first time, funeral directors and employers, to ensure that sensitive care is available for parents long after they’ve left hospital.

We’re thrilled to also be developing a new care package to be distributed to families who’ve not yet left the hospital. The packages will be filled with essential items as well as special keepsakes families can take home in remembrance of their baby.

Sands is fortunate to have an active, passionate and engaged community and we’d like to thank you for your input over the last 12 months. We wish you all a year of peace and comfort look forward to all that 2018 will bring.

Andre Carvalho


Supporting Grieving Parents at Christmas

No matter what time of year a baby dies, or how long ago it happened, Christmas often looms large for bereaved parents as an intimidating trial to be endured rather than a happy holiday to enjoy.

Sands CEO Andre Carvalho said that the lead up to Christmas often heightens feelings of sadness, longing, and loneliness for parents who’ve experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death as it’s traditionally a time of family, celebration and reflection.

“One of the cruelties of pregnancy and infant loss is that the list of actual losses parents experience continue to grow long after the death of their baby,” Mr Carvalho said.

“The loss of innocence, the loss of hope for the future, the inability to relax and enjoy family occasions as they once did.”

At this time of year, many parents in Sands’ community report that the weight of those losses can make them feel like there’s an invisible barrier between them and the rest of the world.

NSW mother Emma Porter, whose baby son Conor was stillborn in 2012, said that Christmas time could be a very lonely time for grieving parents.

“Sometimes it’s the littlest things that serve as the biggest reminders of what you have lost,” she said.

“Decisions like whether to include your baby’s name on family Christmas cards suddenly become loaded because you worry about how they’ll be received by others.”

Helping bereaved parents find a meaningful way to acknowledge and keep their baby present during this difficult time can ease the pain of the season.

“Acknowledging a baby’s place in the family is sometimes the best Christmas present a bereaved parent can receive,” said Ms Porter.

Ms Porter’s two other children, 4yo Manni and 2yo Milla, are beginning to find their own way of including their older brother in their Christmas excitement and celebrations.

“We have a specially-chosen ornament on our tree with Conor’s name on it. Sometimes we buy a gift for a child in need who would be Conor’s age and sometimes we make a Christmas donation in his memory.”

Since Conor’s death, Ms Porter has become a Volunteer Parent Supporter for Sands, answering calls on the National Support Line from bereaved parents across Australia.

“Sands peer-to-peer support model means that every time you call the National Support Line you speak to a parent who themselves has experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death,” Ms Porter said.

“We understand what they’re going through.”

This Christmas the many volunteers and staff of Sands Australia remember those families whose babies have died, and wish them a peaceful few weeks ahead.

New ABS stillbirth stats highlight need for increased focus on bereavement care

The release of new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death decreased by only 0.04% nationally during 2016, highlighting the continuing need for quality bereavement care and support for affected families.

Each month in Australia 143 babies are stillborn and a further 58 die within the first 28 days of life, while miscarriage rates remain even higher still.

Sands Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that provides emotional support, information and hope to families following the death of a baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Sands CEO Andre Carvalho said that demand for its peer support services remains high as bereaved parents learn to navigate the complexities of life after the loss of their child.

“Our community of trained Volunteer Parent Supporters offer families whose baby has died a real sense of understanding because they’ve lived through this devastation too.”

Alongside its core focus on offering peer-to-peer support, Sands Australia also works to improve the quality of bereavement care offered to parents in healthcare and community settings.

“When families have access to comprehensive and accessible bereavement care they are better able to come to terms with and grieve their loss. With perinatal deaths totalling almost 2,500 a year, it’s crucial that we are able to provide families with emotional and practical support and guidance,” said Mr Carvalho.

Sands Australia operates across Australia, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby through its 24/7 Sands support line 1300 0 72637 and at