We Listen, We Care, We Support

Stories

Read about the wonderful people working and volunteering for GriefLine. They each bring life and energy to our work.

Election priorities: what Victorian politicians pledged to volunteers

At a recent Volunteering Victoria forum, which Kathy Wells, GriefLine’s Manager Helpline & Bereavement Counsellor attended, four politicians pledged their support to volunteers. The pledges included: Fiona Patten (Reason Party): “I commit to have performance measures on how government supports volunteering, but also commit to promoting that volunteering is not...
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GriefLine volunteer: meet Sascha Rixon

Sascha Rixon became a GriefLiner in 2016 after starting her Master of Counselling. She swiftly realised that gaining counselling experience would not only assist her studies but put her academic interest in putting counselling into practice. She has not looked back. “GriefLine appealed to me because I was interested in...
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Chinese Helpline – we are here to listen in Mandarin

The helpline runs every Wednesday from 8pm to 10pm. The phone number is: (03) 9028 7951  The older Chinese community is increasingly socially isolated and are facing enormous loss and grief associated with migration and ageing. These are some of the initial findings from GriefLine’s Chinese Helpline which began in...
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GriefLine joins Young Carers Network

GriefLine has been invited to be part of the newly formed Young Carer Network in Victoria, an initiative by the CEO of Little Dreamers – Madeleine Buchner. The aim is to build a network of like-minded organisations at local, national and international levels to collaborate on policy, programs and support options for young...
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Courage matters

The challenges that face many trans and gender diverse individuals were brought into the open at a recent GriefLine seminar. Grace Lee, a counsellor and psychotherapist working in private practice, and LGBTIQ focused services at Thorne Harbour Health, identifies as transgender. She works with the trans and gender diverse community,...
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Australian Women and Men’s Health Draft Strategies

Mental health continues to be a priority in both the Australian women and men’s draft health strategies, but the strategies acknowledge that there has been little progress in reducing the burden of mental illness in Australia over the last 20 years. GriefLine, which has submitted its viewpoints on both strategies,...
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Mental Health Month

GriefLine was delighted to be at the recent launch of Mental Health Month at the Melbourne Town Hall. GriefLine was represented by Kathy Wells, Susan Mathew and board member, Ewa Figiel. Speakers included The Hon Martin Foley MP, Minister for Health, Ms Inga Peulich MLC, Shadow Minister of Multicultural Affairs,...
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From the CEO

November, or Movember, as it is often referred to these days, puts the spotlight on men and their health for good reason. Men are often reluctant to discuss their health openly or share how they feel about the impact of significant life events, whether it being made redundant, a breakdown...
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News In Brief

New computers We are delighted to be able to purchase new computers and ergonomic chairs thanks to a grant from Kingston City Council. Teddy bears Our children’s program has gained some new friends recently thanks to the efforts of the Beaumaris Lions’ Club who donated trauma teddy bears to us....
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Volunteer profile: Amanda Marler

Amanda Marler became a GriefLine volunteer four years ago when she was studying at the Australian College of Applied Psychology. She had been drawn to study counselling because she wanted to explore the role of emotions and feelings more in terms of the cause behind illness in our society. For...
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Double whammy for adult children

Adult children who lose a parent often suffer a “double whammy” to their mental and physical health — from the shock of the loss of both a parent and carer, according to GriefLine. GriefLine volunteers are reporting a trend in calls from people who are aged 50 plus with a...
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Funding boost for Silent Grief

Silent Grief, a support program for mothers and grandmothers with children with a disability, addiction or poor mental health, has received a funding boost from Glen Eira City Council. The council is proudly supporting the program which is designed to meet the emotional and psychological needs of carers. Silent Grief...
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GriefLine contributes to statewide consultation on the future of cemeteries

A statewide consultation about the future of burial services has shown that there is a general trend towards cremation. A major exception was ongoing preference for burial by the Jewish, Islamic and Baha’i communities. Kathy Wells, GriefLine’s Manager Helpline and Bereavement Counsellor, took part in consultations led by KPMG. “How...
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Women under mental health pressure

Findings that almost half of Australian women suffer from anxiety or depression come as no surprise to GriefLine’s CEO, Catherine Cini. She and other GriefLiners have seen a steady surge of calls over the past year from women suffering from poor mental health brought on by many different factors. “They...
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From the CEO

We are fast approaching Mental Health Week, an important week for GriefLine because it helps to highlight the importance of our work supporting people who are suffering loss and grief due to mental illness. For us, mental health has become the number one reason why people call GriefLine. Over the...
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Spaces left for What About Me

What About Me, a six-week support group for primary school aged children, will start on 14 August at GriefLine’s offices in Moorabbin. The program focuses on children who have had a significant loss, who have a sibling or parent with an illness, have experienced bullying or lack confidence or social...
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Volunteer: Paula Kemp

Paula Kemp is a long-term GriefLine volunteer. She has been listening and counselling for over 14 years, and has seen the number of calls rise over that time as well as a change in the style of calls. She came to GriefLine after returning to work part-time following the death...
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Loss and Grief Course attracts potential volunteers

GriefLine is about to start its prestigious Loss and Grief Course, which will run until mid-November. The program is supported by the Magistrates Court of Victoria, and is an essential element to the success of the organisation. “One of the reasons why GriefLine provides such an extraordinary service is our...
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How to support someone through loss and grief

LISTEN and hear what is being said. ACKNOWLEDGE that each griever’s experience will be unique. Do remember that nobody has to JUSTIFY their feelings. Don’t prevent the bereaved from EXPRESSING their guilt and anger. Allow the griever TIME to grieve. HELP the bereaved to realise the deceased….is not coming home....
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Offering a human voice

As a response to increased isolation across aged care, there have been many advances in technology designed to minimise loneliness, according to Catherine Cini, CEO of GriefLine. She has noticed that even with the growth in robotics for older people to use and connect with others, that in many ways they are...
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Grief and growing older

Sadness and grief are feelings experienced by all ages, however the elderly are more likely to be confronted by these emotions as they struggle to come to terms with losses in many aspects of their lives. That is the view of Catherine Cini, CEO of GriefLine, who is asked to...
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From the CEO

At the halfway point of the year, it is always useful to take a moment to reflect on achievements to date. We are building our children and young people’s programs thanks to funding from the Tucker Foundation and the City of Kingston. These programs aim to help children who are...
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Tui Anderson – our student placement

Tui Anderson is on student placement with GriefLine from Monash University. She tells us about why she approached GriefLine, and why loss and grief is a critical area in counselling.   Why did you approach GriefLine for student placement? My own childhood loss of my father inspired me to counselling...
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Children’s program has vacancies

Thanks to the generosity of the Tucker Foundation and the City of Kingston, GriefLine has vacancies in its Children and Youth Counselling program. Susan Mathew, GriefLine’s Children and Family Counsellor, said the funding has allowed GriefLine to absorb all those on its waiting list, and there are now vacancies for...
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What About Me ?

What About Me, a six-week support group for primary school aged children, will start on 14 August at GriefLine’s offices in Moorabbin. The program focuses on children who have had a significant loss, who have a sibling or parent with an illness, have experienced bullying or lack confidence or social...
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Men’s health strategy welcomed

GriefLine has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement to establish a decade-long National Male Health Strategy that will focus on the mental and physical health of men and boys. According to Kathy Wells, GriefLine’s Helpline Manager, mental health – depression and psychiatric illness is the overwhelming reason for calls into the...
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Growing our support in diverse languages

Over the past year GriefLine has grown its helpline services to include people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds. Partly funded by Kingston City Council and in-kind support from volunteers who speak different languages is enabling GriefLine to offer loss and grief telephone or skype counselling in Mandarin, Japanese, and...
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From the CEO

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a life changing support for many, but the source of disappointment and heartbreak for others. Here at GriefLine we have had a spike of calls due to media coverage associated with the roll out of the NDIS. While we understand that the idea is...
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End of life support for caregivers

Recently there has been an increase in community conversations around death and dying. These are important conversations to have, as is the need to plan for end of life care and support. GriefLine’s CEO Catherine Cini said that an increasing number of callers on the national helpline were seeking support...
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From the CEO

In a few weeks’ time, Australia will celebrate the contribution of volunteers. From 21 to 27 May, there will be hundreds of events held to mark the special role that volunteers play in many people’s lives. The theme is Give a little. Change a lot. Here at GriefLine, we celebrate...
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Spotlight on Sue Liu

Sue Liu is a Mandarin-speaking volunteer who is taking a leading role in GriefLine’s new Chinese helpline service. She began training as a GriefLine counsellor in April last year, and started taking shifts from July. Most recently, she has been involved in intense planning and training ahead of the May...
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Mandarin program begins

GriefLine’s Mandarin helpline and skype service will launch in May, with new volunteers trained in counselling, and especially dealing with older people. The service will be offered every Wednesday from 8pm to 10pm, and is for Mandarin speakers who are experiencing loneliness and isolation, depression, anxiety and stress, and cultural...
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Through The Eyes Of The Child

More children will be able to access GriefLine’s Children & Youth Counselling program that focuses on supporting them through challenging life situations. The Tucker Foundation has provided funds to enable Through The Eyes Of The Child to increase the hours it currently operates to reach more marginalised children. “Many children are referred to us...
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Patrick Fitzgerald – a privilege to volunteer

Patrick Fitzgerald has been a volunteer with GriefLine for three years, and says it is a privilege to be able to listen to people at their lowest ebb. He became a volunteer after experiencing his own loss and says it has helped his volunteer experience. “I understand the need to...
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Varda Khan celebrates her cultural diversity

Varda Khan became a GriefLine counsellor two years ago. It has been an insightful journey which allows her to consider and celebrate her cultural diversity every day. Varda became a counsellor because she wanted to get involved in community work where she could offer care and support to individuals and families, and...
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Potential volunteers sign up to loss and grief course

Would-be GriefLine volunteers have started our in-depth loss and grief course to learn more about what it takes to become a volunteer counsellor. The course, which started in mid-March, is an introduction to GriefLine and the many issues that counsellors will deal with once they become volunteers. The training course...
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Depression is a normal response to loss

For many people either ringing GriefLine’s helpline or seeing a counsellor, depression is increasingly the major reason for their seeking help. “What many people do not realise is the various shades of depression, all of which are a normal part of loss and grief,” GriefLine CEO Catherine Cini said. “Many...
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From the CEO

We live in an increasingly difficult world. Unemployment, poor mental health and social isolation are on the rise at a time when most of us appear to be busier than ever with little time for ourselves or anyone else. Here at GriefLine, our volunteers receive many calls from people who...
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Be the change you want to see in the world

When it comes to advocating for change in attitudes to mental health, Ray Chamberlain and his brothers, Brian and Peter are among the best. Through organising fundraising events and championing organisations such as GriefLine, the Chamberlain Brothers have galvanised support and spread the word about the prevalence of mental health...
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Children’s program receives a $10,000 fillip

An anonymous $10,000 donation will enable GriefLine to work at a deeper level with highly anxious children aged between six and 12. Susan Mathew, GriefLine’s Children and Family Counsellor, said the donation would help fund a computer that would help children engage more actively in relaxation and mindfulness techniques. There...
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Méabh O’Leary: a love migrant and GriefLine counsellor

Méabh O’Leary is what is termed a ‘love migrant’ in a ‘mixed marriage’. She said ‘I do’ in ‘home’ sickness and in health to Bruce and to Australia. Managing a dual identity and the issues that arise over the lifecycle of migration led Méabh to be involved with ‘Griefline’. Callers...
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The gentle voice of Jenny Fernando

Most callers into the GriefLine office would be familiar with the gentle voice which belongs to Jenny Fernando. Jenny joined GriefLine in 2011 following a long and successful career with Australia Post. There she worked as Executive Assistant to the CEO for 17 years out of 35 years’ with the...
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Cultural diversity and GriefLine

GriefLine has always embraced cultural diversity whether it is through its volunteers, programs or the people it supports on its telephone helpline. Recently, the organisation celebrated Cultural Diversity Week (17 to 25 March) through a series of posts on Facebook of some of the volunteers who come from different countries...
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Spotlight on Fran Williamson

Fran Williamson joined Griefline as a volunteer in 2013 after retiring from her position as Nurse Unit Manager of the Neurological unit at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem. Her focus at GriefLine is to facilitate the Silent Grief Program for mothers and others who have a child with autism, mental health...
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Did you know?

GriefLine saves the government $5 million a year through its professional volunteer telephone service. Each 30-minute call to a GriefLine volunteer counsellor costs on average $1.95. Over the year, our volunteers undertake about 50,400 telephone consultations. The cost of delivering these is $106,600 a year. If these services were provided...
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Dealing with bullying and cyberbullying

The recent tragic death of 14-year-old Dolly, who took her life on January 3, after being hounded online highlights the importance of checking with children about their relationships. GriefLine’s children and young people’s program advises both parents and school students about how to counter bullying. Susan Mathew, Children and Family...
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Japanese new counselling service resonates

GriefLine’s newly launched counselling program for Japanese people in Victoria is already making a difference. Dr Kaori Shimoinba who heads the service, has been counselling primarily by Skype and anticipates that the service will soon extend to telephone and face to face sessions. The program was introduced for several reasons:...
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Funding support for volunteer training

The Magistrates Court of Victoria is supporting GriefLine’s volunteer training program throughout 2018. The funds will go towards the running of the organisation’s robust program which includes a rigorous screening process. “One of the reasons why GriefLine provides such an extraordinary service is our 200 volunteers, many of whom are...
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Anger is a normal stage of grief

Why do so many people become angry at some stage after the death of a person or a pet? It is a question that GriefLine volunteers are often asked during a counselling session. Kathy Wells, GriefLine’s Helpline Manager and Bereavement Counsellor, said: “Anger is a normal response to loss and...
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From the CEO

The number of violent and sudden deaths are increasing worldwide and, until recently, Australia has been largely immune. The recent second anniversary of the Bourke Street rampage serves as a reminder about the impact of loss and grief at a personal and community level, and why the service that GriefLine...
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Razor Ride is a winner!

Three magnificent Brothers Chamberlain and one amazing Razor Ride team rode into Beaumaris to a round of applause and awe! The team had cycled over 600 kilometres to raise funds for GriefLine, and were rightfully treated to a hero’s welcome after six hot and challenging days in the saddle. They were rewarded with a wonderful...
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Razor Ride makes an impact on people’s lives

People often say the most difficult choice a woman makes is when she decides to leave her abusive husband. GriefLine begs to differ – it is the first of many challenging decisions she will have to make for herself and her children. If the social stigma attached to a single...
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Funds needed for Victoria Police counselling program

GriefLine is looking for funding to continue its service to support people who have experienced sudden death and trauma due to incidents which have involved police attendance. The service has been working with the Victorian Police’s outreach program since 2014. The referrals cover a wide range of incidents from performing...
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GriefLine attends inaugural Victims of Crime Awareness Day

The aftermath of the Bourke Street massacre saw 1,200 Victorians who either witnessed the scene or were affected by it contact the Victoria police. Many of them were referred by the police to GriefLine for counselling support. Kathy Wells, Manager of the Helpline and Bereavement Counsellor, was overwhelmed by the...
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Chinese counselling service to begin in 2018

GriefLine’s Chinese counselling service will get under way in 2018 to coincide with the Chinese New Year. The service will be led by Hao Wu, who came to Australia from Nanjing as an international student in 2006. GriefLine was his first social work placement, and he is now a counsellor...
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Japanese counselling service starts

GriefLine has started a Japanese Counselling Service as part of its commitment to supporting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds through loss and grief. Dr Kaori Shimoinba is leading the service. She is a lecturer at Monash University, and a member of Palliative Care Nurse Australia, Japanese Cancer Nurse...
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Ten tips to get through the holiday season

Grieving the loss of a loved one is a difficult challenge at any time but the holiday season can magnify a sense of loss and a painful reminder of the absence of a loved one. With a plan, however, the season can also provide ways to focus on good memories...
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Christmas can be lonely if you are grieving

Christmas can be one of the loneliest times of the year even if there are family and friends around to share the celebrations and family gatherings. GriefLine volunteers are already fielding calls from anxious Australians who are scared about how they will manage the festive season. “Often the calls are...
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Christmas is not always joyful

Dear Friends Welcome to our last newsletter of 2017. As you will read, the GriefLine team is passionate about finding new ways of supporting all Australians through loss and grief. Our service is crucial for so many Australians. This last year alone we received 52,000 calls from individuals about a...
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‘Born in One Country, Dying in Another – Power of Story’

The ‘Born in One Country, Dying in Another – Power of Story’ seminar held on Wednesday 13 September, was a showcase of stories from the Chinese and Indian communities with other community leaders and GriefLine volunteers. The speakers provided insight into their experiences in the community, the challenges in both...
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Ageing parents seek a listening ear

An increasing number of ageing parents are calling GriefLine about the stress and worry that comes with looking after a child with poor mental health. According to Kathy Wells, Manager Helpline & Bereavement Counsellor, the incidence of calls has increased over the year and appears to be spearheaded by the...
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New grant helps to extend children’s program

GriefLine is set to expand its children and youth counselling program, thanks to a $30,000 grant. The three-year grant will enable GriefLine to re-start the What About Me program, run an awareness campaign about GriefLine and its programs in schools, and, eventually, extend the service to another day. Susan Mathew,...
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Ray Chamberlain, Co-Founder, The Chamberlain Foundation

“I have chosen to embark on the challenge of cycling 600+ km’s from Docklands Stadium in Melbourne through the heart of regional Victoria and back home to Melbourne”. The Razor ride is a signature event of the Chamberlain Foundation, which I started with my brothers Peter and Brian to raise...
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Grief is an often-forgotten part of Mental Illness

GriefLine’s counsellors are already gearing up for additional calls as Mental Health Week (8 – 14 October 2017) approaches. Although media focus attention is usually on the ‘illness’ itself, grief is rarely discussed in public. We know from our work that many people who suffer from mental illness also experience...
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Trivia Night a great success

Around 150 people turned out on a blustery evening at the South Oakleigh Club to take part in GriefLine’s annual trivia night. All proceeds from the night are going towards children experiencing trauma from domestic violence or those who have lost a parent to cancer. From start to end, the...
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The good and difficult reality of being a migrant

The recent Census results highlight a changing Australia, with one quarter of Australians born overseas and an increasing number in Asia and not Europe. The statistic tells many stories but what it does not show is the reality of being a migrant in Australia, and what that means when it...
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Born in One Country Dying in Another – The Power of Story

The impact of a dual nationality, together with differences in culture, become more noticeable as migrants age, according to GriefLine’s CEO Catherine Cini. This complex topic is the subject of a GriefLine seminar and panel discussion on 13 September. Born in One Country Dying in Another provides an opportunity for...
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Hao Wu puts study into reality

Hao Wu is a familiar face and voice around GriefLine. As a volunteer, Hao is a telephone counsellor and he also works closely with others to set up a specific telephone counselling service for Chinese migrants. Hao came to Australia from Nanjing as an international student in 2006, studying Bachelor...
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How does family violence affect children?

One in four children experience or witness family violence. Children’s exposure to family violence can take many forms, including: being subjected to deliberate or accidental violence overhearing violence intervening on behalf of a parent or other person, and experiencing the aftermath of violence, such as being cared for by a...
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GriefLine’s children’s program turns a life around

It is difficult being a teenager at the best of times but when you have directly experienced family violence and seen your mother beaten, teenage years become more difficult. Susan Mathew, Children and Family Counsellor, sees many teenagers but of all of them, there is one young 15-year-old who reminds...
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From the CEO

The promise of spring and new beginnings is in the air. It is always wonderful to see buds blossoming on trees, feel the warmth of sunshine on our backs, and watch people smile at each other and take time to sit in the park. With spring brings hope, and that...
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Clea De Vries – volunteer grief counsellor

Clea De Vries is a GriefLine volunteer. She reflects on her experiences six months on: “I originally came to GriefLine because I was looking for a volunteer helpline work to support my transition into a career in counselling. I am particularly drawn to trauma because I feel that post-traumatic stress disorder...
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Using positive memories to cope with loss and grief

Think of a recent positive memory of being with another person. Move around the memory, engaging all senses as you do. Let it broaden in your mind. Where are you? What do you see? Turn your focus on the other person. Focus on his or her face. What do you...
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Supporting the Victoria Police with their community outreach

GriefLine has been working with the Victorian Police and their outreach program since 2014 by supporting people who have experienced sudden death and trauma. The referrals are to support witnesses, family, friends or anyone associated with incidents which have involved police attendance. Kathy Wells, Manager of the Helpline and Bereavement...
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Establishing a strong and robust volunteer program

When it comes to establishing a strong and robust volunteer program, there is no better person to share insights than Kathy Wells, Manager Helpline & Bereavement Counsellor. Kathy spoke recently at a conference hosted by Volunteering Victoria about the rigour behind GriefLine’s volunteer program, and especially the screening process. “One...
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More Than A Trivia Night

Date: Saturday, August 5th, 2017 Time: 6.30 -10.30 Venue: South Oakleigh Club, 1 Victor Road, East Bentleigh, Vic 3165 Cost: $24 per head Light supper provided. Drinks at bar price Make up a table of 10 or join a table. Bookings essential – jennyf@griefline.org.au. Tel. (03) 9935 7444.   Our annual trivia...
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Our logo

Have you ever wondered what the story behind our logo is? It is a listening shell, moving from dark to light, to symbolise the eventual healing process.

From the Executive Director – Grief is masked

Everyone suffers grief in different ways. For children, the grief is masked by silence especially at school. Girls often withdraw from school while boys behave badly or show up late. Our children’s program is designed to support and encourage people aged four to 18 to recognise and talk about their...
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GriefLine giving circle

GriefLine is looking to establish a giving circle program to grow donations and supporters. Giving Circles are an increasingly popular form of encouraging supporters to give regularly, become more involved in understanding the issues and ‘wicked’ problems that organisations like GriefLine are trying to solve. The GriefLine Giving Circle will...
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Join the Razor Ride for a life changing experience

The Razor Ride is back in 2017, and once again is supporting GriefLine and R U OK Day. Starting in the Docklands in Melbourne and running from the 20 to 25 November 2017, this years’ fully supported event will take riders through some of Victoria’s most iconic cycling locations including...
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Spotlight on Linda Hamilton

Linda Hamilton became a GriefLine volunteer in September 2015. Like many volunteers, she has been touched by loss and grief. In her case, it was the premature death of her third child. While in hospital in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, she was deeply moved by the compassionate care of...
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Leadership for a volunteer organisation

What is the role of a leadership team in building a resilient, sustainable and productive volunteer workforce? Kathy Wells, GriefLine’s Manager Helpline & Bereavement Counsellor, is presenting at Volunteering Victoria’s conference in June on how GriefLine’s leadership team has built a sustainable volunteer program over the past 30 years. Volunteers...
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Federal Budget Offers Little for Volunteering

Volunteering has been sidelined this year in the Federal Budget, according to Catherine Cini, CEO of GriefLine. “While GriefLine recognises that $10 million has been allocated towards volunteer grants for 2017 – 2018, this funding does not acknowledge the backroom work undertaken to ensure effective volunteering,” she said. There are...
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Saving Face: Support for the ageing Chinese community

GriefLine is set to expand its helpline to support the ageing Chinese community, thanks to funding by the Kingston Charitable Fund, a charitable fund account of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. The new program builds on the organisation’s extensive experience supporting migrants, refugees and international students from Greek and Italian,...
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A snapshot of our past

We were established in 1987 with bipartisan support by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, and operated as part of the outreach department at Caulfield’s Bethlehem Hospital. By 2007, GriefLine became an independent, not-for-profit organisation, continuing its essential work of counselling those in need but growing in the...
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From the CEO

GriefLine turns 30 this year, an anniversary that provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our achievements as well as rue the fact that our services are more vital than ever. Over the past 30 years we have supported hundreds of thousands of people across Australia who come to...
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