Compassion, Courage and Connection: Recognising Griefline’s Values in our Volunteers

By Amanda Peppard, Griefline Online Community Coordinator and former Volunteer Telephone Counsellor

Everyday, Griefline volunteers can be found manning the Helpline, moderating the online forums, reaching out to individuals on Policeline, supervising and debriefing volunteers… all united by a commitment to the field of grief and loss, and to supporting the community through preventative mental health and wellbeing measures.

Who are our volunteers?

The goodwill and generosity of Griefline volunteers starts at the top and filters right throughout the organisation. The entire Board is voluntary and all paid staff provide pro-bono support beyond their salaries and contracts. It’s a commitment and belief in the organisation that is tangible…at the start of 2021 Griefline set itself a goal of reaching 150 volunteers by year’s end, and by halfway through the year the organisation already boasts 133 care-givers.

With volunteers ranging in age from early to late adulthood, many have a background in mental health, or are studying counselling, social work or psychology.  And though women have traditionally been our strongest supporters, nowadays the percentage of male volunteers is a healthy 18% compared to 82% identifying as female.

We are proud that our volunteers represent many different cultures, ethnicities, ages and aspirations. It’s this diversity that strengthens our volunteer tribe and propels us to achieve our mission; to help people find courage through their grief, and discover hope and healing after loss.  And it’s by embodying our values of Courage, Compassion and Connection that we do this best.  That’s why our annual awards are given in recognition of volunteers who work by these values.

Courage, Compassion and Connection

Griefline crystal paperweight trophy

In 2020 our annual awards recognised three amazing volunteers whose contributions were fully aligned with our values. The awards were presented as follows:

The Courage award honoured a volunteer who took on a leadership role, scaled up her volunteer workload and met challenges with warmth and humour, while supporting people to find courage from within to heal.

The Compassion award went to a volunteer with the capacity to suspend judgement and recognise the suffering of others – not just Help-Seekers but also Volunteers.

And the Connection award celebrated an individual who volunteered across multiple platforms, fostering connections between people experiencing grief and loss, enhancing their wellbeing in the process.

Australian business owners help us rewards our volunteers

Care packs ready for distribution to our volunteers

Ask any Griefline volunteer why they give so tirelessly of themselves, the answer is never for material gain, but more likely “to give back”.  Still, there are many generous individuals and organisations in the community who believe our volunteer’s good works should be rewarded.  Their donations of funds, products and services enable Griefline to present award winners with the amazing prize packs below.

The Catherine Cini award:

Crystal paperweight trophy and a Peninsula Hot Springs ‘Revitalise Bath House’ Bathing Pass for two

The Courage, Compassion, Connection awards:

Crystal paperweight trophy and a Noelle Australia ‘Rainforest Stress Relief’ Hand Care Kit

And the community spirit of our partners and sponsors doesn’t stop there.  Their collective goodwill allowed Griefline to recognise the contribution of every volunteer by gifting them with a Care Pack containing an assortment of gorgeous wellness products and vouchers. And because practicing self-care is essential for our volunteer’s wellbeing, the importance of gifts such as these cannot be underestimated.

The Griefline Care Packs contained:

NativeBliss Australia gift pack

Australian Botanical Soap Bar

Noelle Australia Rainforest Stress Relief Hand Cream

The nature of a Griefline volunteer’s work means there are times when they are required to undertake extraordinary feats of compassion, courage and connection.  And it’s thanks to community benefactors such as those below that Griefline is able to recognise these acts as they come to pass:

Strandbags

Pan McMillan Australia

Crust Pizza

Community recognition

Sue Wilson with her City of Glen Eira Community Award

Our volunteers come from cities, regional centres and remote towns all over Australia. But the Melbourne East area holds special significance for us as Griefline’s heritage lies in the area. These days several of our volunteers reside in this region. Making our participation in this year’s City of Glen Eira Volunteer Recognition Program very fitting. The program acknowledges and applauds the valuable contribution of community members and groups, while also celebrating great Glen Eira people.

Griefline nominated four volunteers, each of whom received formal recognition of their commitment to Griefline and their service to those in our community experiencing grief and loss. These individuals have given Griefline between 500 hours and 10 years of their continuous service. We thank these volunteers for giving their time, talents, gifts and hearts to improve the quality of community life, and build a stronger and more cohesive community.

How you can become part of our Griefline tribe

Members of the Griefline board and staff

Griefline volunteers can choose from a number of opportunities:

Policeline

Experienced Helpline volunteers can register to become part of the Policeline program.  An important partnership with SEMPHN, this service assists the Victoria Police Victims Advisory Unit.  Our volunteers provide 6 free counselling sessions to anyone impacted by a sudden death.

Services Support Volunteer

No Grief and Loss training is required but the assistance provided for the administration of programs and services is highly valued.

Debriefing

Our Helpline Volunteers need support too and our team of volunteer debriefers offers a friendly and attentive ear to acknowledge challenging calls and provide space to download.

Supervision

Pro bono supervision by qualified practicing Psychologists and Registered Supervisors of counsellors is a highly prized resource at Griefline.  Helping our volunteers focus in on themselves and their call experiences while building counselling skills.

Student placements

Griefline recognises the importance of education and training in the grief and loss space and are proud to have supported a number of placements for Monash University and Melbourne University students.  We continue to work with educational institutions to develop placement opportunities.

To learn more about becoming a Griefline volunteer or to register, take a look at the Volunteer Opportunities available on our website at: https://griefline.org.au/support-our-vision/volunteers/

Contact

For more information please contact Griefline Chief Marketing Officer, Louisa Smith louisa@griefline.org.au

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