Miindala Chapter

Launch of Miindala
A new innovative Community Service

The National Association for Loss and Grief (NALAG) is proud to introduce to the community their new volunteer service, MIINDALA. The service was launched by Miindala coordinator Catherine Campbell, the Bellingen Shire Mayor, Mark Troy, and Trudy Hanson from Dubbo on Saturday March 17th 2007 in Bellingen NSW.

What is Miindala?

Miindala offers long-term or short-term emotional and spiritual support, by trained volunteers, to any person who is faced with a life threatening situation, be it through illness, accident or old age.

When faced with a life threatening situation, grief and loss, fears and dilemmas, or just the need to talk may arise. We aim to provide a neutral volunteer who is outside of a person’s immediate network of health care givers, family and friends to support people in their need to reflect and converse about their life, to express loss and grief, concerns, fears, dilemmas, uncertainties or confusions or to simply just be a silent comforting presence. We also offer support to the families and carers of people who are facing a life threatening situation.

Volunteers will visit people in their own homes, in hospitals, nursing homes or at a mutually agreed location. This service will travel within the Bellingen Shire, the Nambucca Shire and to Coffs Harbour central.

History of Miindala

Miindala is the fruit of some seeds that were planted two years ago in April 2005 by Karen Schaefer. Karen came to the NALAG Bellingen Shire Bereavement service, which Catherine coordinates as well, with the suggestion of running a seminar on “Facing Death and Finding Heart”. The seminar attracted over 60 participants. As we received such overwhelming interest in this topic Karen ran a further series of six workshops in May on the subject of the spiritual care for people who were dying.

From these workshops, and a public notice in the paper, a group of people came forward who were interested in forming a support service for this area of life. To date, Miindala is proud to have 17 volunteers who are dedicating their time and energy to this very worthy cause.

The group held its first meeting in July 2005 and went on to hold monthly meetings for the next year until we did the training. Those meetings were all about us defining who we were exactly, what we wanted to do, who we wanted to do it for and how we were going to do it!! As you can imagine this was a long process which I’m happy to say we took our time in doing and did it very thoroughly, hence the excellent quality of the service we are now able to provide.

We came upon many challenges, not the least being how to define our service and what to call it. We were very clear that we were not offering physical care. We wanted to be available to offer support to all people who were facing the challenging experience in their life of facing death, or the possibility of death, whether it was from illness, an accident or just simply from old age. We wanted to offer compassionate care, our presence, our ability to be there and share a person’s grief, their confusion, fear or whatever was arising for them mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

How to say all that and what to call it was our greatest challenge! To use the words Dying or Death, is too confronting and also makes an assumption that that is going to happen, and although it is going to happen to all of us, those facing that immediate situation need hope and sensitivity. So, “Spiritual care for the Dying”, the simplest title, was not appropriate. So too with another title we explored: “End of Life Compassionate Care”. The term ‘End of Life’ we discovered, in Palliative Care terms refers only to the last few days of life.

Eventually, with much brain-drain and many middle of the night inspirations we decided that perhaps a single word that became known for what our service offers would be the simplest way to go.

As a way of honouring the local aboriginal healing spirit we went looking for a Gumbaynggir word and found the word Miindala. Miindala means “to do something well”. We sought and gained permission to use this word from the Aboriginal Language and Cultural Co-operative in Nambucca. We would like to officially give our thanks for the use of this word and our pledge to honour the meaning of Miindala in our work to the community.

Miindala is not associated with any religious organisation or philosophical outlook. We are providing an absolutely neutral non-judgmental service with no agenda. We consider the term “spiritual” to be defined uniquely by each individual person. And we hope that our service can fill a gap that exists for those who are not practicing religion but who wish to explore or express a spiritual dimension to their lives, whatever that may be for them.

All our volunteers have undergone training specific to this service which Catherine conducted from August to December 2006. We covered topics such as: Grief & Loss, Death & Dying. Spirituality, Communication, and the role of being a volunteer including the policies and procedures of NALAG.

Miindala is a sub-branch of NALAG Coffs Coast Chapter and sister organisation to NALAG Bellingen Shire Bereavement Service.

Miindala executive committee is:
Coordinator…………………… Catherine Campbell
Secretary……………………… Cath Cosgrave
Treasurer……………………… John Pollock

Phone…………………………… 0448 084 792
Email…………………………… nalag@hwy.com.au

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