Bali tragedy renews focus on grief program

Tuesday, 29 October 2002

The recent events in Bali, the shock murder of Dr Margaret Tobin and the deaths resulting from the Salisbury rail accident, have brought home the horrors of terrorism and trauma to Australians.

It is not often recognised that there are about 10 people who are seriously affected by the death of any one person. Conceivably, there are probably about 1,000 Australians grieving the loss of someone from the Bali bombings. There is also now a surge of collective grief in the community resulting directly from these events.

In addition, many people who have suffered losses independently of Bali may have had memories of their losses triggered and will be now re-grieving these, particularly those that are similar in mode of death or kinship.

This surge of grief in the community underlines the need for competent crisis support and grief counselling to be available to those that need it. Without appropriate attention or support, grief and trauma can lead to depression, or an increase in illness or substance abuse.

There are few training courses of this nature for professionals in the country.

One of these is the Graduate Program in Grief and Palliative Care Counselling run through the Department of General Practice at the University of Adelaide.

Mara Lashchuk, a lecturer and coordinator of the program, said recent developments on the world stage have not only stimulated interest in the five-year-old program, it is also tempting some individuals to undergo a career change.

The program offers a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters in grief and palliative care counselling as well as individual courses.

"There is huge interest in this area and we have had an incredible response to our newspaper advertisements promoting the program," Lashchuk said. "The program is expected to attract those who have a career in this field and want to upgrade their skills as well as other people who see this as a career."

The program is aimed primarily at graduate health and welfare professionals who are responsible for supporting others in times of transition, crisis or difficulty.

"Already attracting interest overseas in Canada and New Zealand, the program offers a unique combination of up-to-date knowledge of grief, palliative care and bereavement issues with the practical skills of counselling.

"Theoretical perspectives are balanced by the application of experiential learning. The program answers not only the questions of 'what is happening?' in grief and trauma, but also 'how can I respond appropriately?' The University is training an increasingly large pool of counsellors who are specifically equipped to do this work," Lashchuk said.

The Graduate Program covers topics such as bereavement, men's grief, grief in children and adolescents, the place of spirituality in grief, issues in death and dying, non-death related losses such as relationship breakdown and job loss, and facilitating grief support groups.

Counselling skills include dealing with trauma and crisis, responding appropriately to individuals and families in distress, and helping people to find meaning in their loss and hope for the future.

An information session to discuss the program will be held on Monday, November 4 at 6:00 p.m. at the Eleanor Harrald Building (Level 2).


Contact Details

Dr. Sheila Clark
Department of General Practice
Business: +61 8 8313 3460
Mobile: 0412 594 338

Ms. Mara Lashchuk
Business: +61 8 8313 3460
Mobile: 0401 123 797

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814