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The inspiration

In 2005, five organisations dedicated to helping people in grief and loss joined forces to seek funding and a location for a place of reflection. This Consortium included: the Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS); the Healing Hearts Foundation (founded by the Rotary Club of Heirisson); the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Kids WA; Compassionate Friends WA; and Soroptimist International of South Perth.

The Place of Reflection Consortium was effectively brought together by Western Australia’s state lottery commission, Lotterywest, which had received enquiries from a number of community organisations about establishing memorials relating to various kinds of loss. Lotterywest provided funding for the Healing Hearts Foundation to carry out a feasibility study to explore whether there was a common purpose that could be addressed. Rather than a memorial, the study identified the need for a shared place of healing that would be both widely accessible and would meet the needs of a multicultural population. The study also strongly confirmed the need to have a place of natural beauty that was already recognised as a location of significance to the community and it was broadly agreed that Kings Park would be the ideal venue.

In December 2009, the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA) approved the use of land on the escarpment in Kings Park next to the Roe Memorial. Lotterywest allocated $1 million in funds to build a suitable facility, with further funding raised by the Place of Reflection Consortium. The Consortium, BGPA and the Friends of Kings Park worked collaboratively to turn the original vision into a reality, with further funding from Lotterywest enabling the Place of Reflection to be officially launched in a special ceremony by Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett on 15 April 2011. Symbolically, at this ceremony the Consortium handed over the Place of Reflection to the people of Western Australia for all time.

Early in the planning process, the vision for the Place of Reflection moved from being a resource for people dealing with the loss of a loved one, to something that people experiencing many different forms of loss could benefit from.

About the Consortium Organisations

The Healing Hearts Foundation, founded by the Rotary Club of Heirisson, was established to link families touched by the tragedy of losing a child and to create a symbolic place of hope and encouragement where they could reflect on their loss. The Foundation as an independent entity was wound up following the successful launch of the Place of Reflection, although Healing Hearts continues as a project of the Rotary Club of Heirisson.

The Association for Services to Torture & Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS) provides services and support for people who have been tortured or traumatised by violent conflicts, many of whom are refugees who are recent arrivals to Australia.

SIDS and Kids WA is dedicated to saving babies’ lives, from pregnancy through childhood and to supporting people affected by the loss of a child. A range of education, loss and grief services are provided throughout Western Australia and support is given for national research to save babies’ lives.

Soroptimist International of South Perth is a women’s service organisation that became involved in the Consortium because of its project, initiated in 2002, to acknowledge and respond to the trauma experienced when a loved one becomes a missing person.

The Compassionate Friends WA is part of an international self-help peer support organisation supporting families after the death of a child from any cause, at any age. A number of peer support groups operate throughout Western Australia.

Spreading the word

In 2013, additional funding was secured from Lotterywest to promote the Place of Reflection more broadly throughout the community. The 12-month project involved three interlinked components: a communication strategy (incorporating the development of new communication tools); demonstration events held at the Place of Reflection to showcase its facilities and potential to a range of organisations; and an impact analysis.

The Consortium would like to acknowledge the exemplary work of the project team – a collaboration between Walker Shanley Consultancy (project leader), Bradmac Consulting and Lasso Productions. The project team members (Noni Walker, Claire Bradshaw, Chris McDonald and Donna Skender) developed a deep empathy for the Place of Reflection as a place of healing, hope and renewal and carried out the project with warmth, creativity and the highest professional standards – exceeding all our expectations.

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.