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Jan Stewart

It was an unexpected honour to be invited by the members of the Consortium, who worked so hard to make the Place of Reflection a reality, to become their Patron. 

In my former role as CEO of Lotterywest, I was closely involved from the early days of this project, when it was still only a dream held by several of the members. 

Quite independently, each had come to believe that our community needed a special place, not a church, not a cemetery or a memorial, but a place where people who have suffered loss of any kind could find peace and solace in the beauty of nature. 

The members of the Consortium and the groups they represented were touched in various ways by loss – the death of loved ones, sometimes where the body was irretrievable, was buried overseas or never found in the case of a missing person, or the loss of a child who died before being born. For some members the loss might be of their home or country – a place to which they could never return. For others it might be the loss of health or the loss of hope. 

This was a concept that moved me deeply – not only professionally through my work experiences over many years with those with mental illness and with families at Princess Margaret Hospital, and later through my work with community organisations at Lotterywest, but also through personal experience of the loss of a beloved son when he was only 13. I understood the importance of all of us finding somewhere to take our grief and loss where comfort and healing could be found.

From the first approaches with this idea, the team in the Grants Department at Lotterywest worked for many years with the members of the Consortium, who came together with the support and encouragement of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, to plan and design, and to find the funds to build the Place of Reflection.

We are all grateful to the Board and Senior Management of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority for making the land available for the Place of Reflection at Kings Park – a unique gift to the people of Western Australia. We are grateful also to designer David Smith for his sensitive interpretation of the brief and believe the result, which has won international awards, speaks for itself.

The Place of Reflection was opened by the Premier in 2011 with a most moving ceremony, which included those present tying fabric in the style of Buddhist prayer flags along the path leading to the entrance. Each piece of fabric represented a prayer or message for a loved one, or was used to represent another kind of loss. The Place has been blessed by the energy and hopes of all those who have used it since.

The Place of Reflection is a place that can mean whatever it needs to mean to those using it – it is not a memorial garden, although those using it will of course bring their memories to it. It is simply a place in which I hope those who need it can find peace.

The following organisations worked together to bring the Place of Reflection vision to life:

Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS); Healing Hearts Foundation (founded by the Rotary Club of Heirisson); Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Kids WA; The Compassionate Friends WA; Soroptimist International of South Perth; Lotterywest; Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority; and Friends of Kings Park.