The National Association for Loss and Grief (NSW) Inc is a not for profit organisation, formed in 1977 following the Granville Train Disaster, to act as a support network for people experiencing loss and grief. The organisation continues to provide a service to individuals, families and communities through its Grief Support service and now has branches in Dubbo (Head Office), Mudgee, Bellingen/Nambucca (Miindala), Hunter and Sydney (Telephone).
Each year, NALAG also conducts a variety of quality educational programs, workshops, training and mental health awareness events to enhance wellbeing and promote resilience to NSW communities following loss, grief, trauma and adverse life events.
"People in grief need someone to walk with them without judging them."
- Gail Sheehy
Please note, NALAG NSW is not a crisis centre. If you or someone you know needs urgent support, talk to someone you trust or contact a crisis support service, such as beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 000 in an emergency.
Meet the Team
The NALAG team consists of over 100 volunteers and a small number of staff based at numerous branches throughout NSW.
Julie Dunsmore AM
Julie has been working as a psychologist in the area of loss, grief and trauma for over 30 years. Since 2003 Julie has been the Bali Trauma Recovery Coordinator primarily working with NSW Bali Bombing survivors, bereaved & first responders; survivors from the Tsunami and most recently a consultant for those working with the bereaved from the Victorian bushfires.
In 2008 Julie was invited to address the UN Supporting Victims of Terrorism symposium in New York and be part of the expert working group. Julie has had a special interest in working with bereaved parents, adolescents and children. She has worked extensively with those who have experienced traumatic bereavement after a sudden unexpected death, including suicide, murder and accidents. Julie conducts training in the area of Psychological First Aid, PTSD and Complex Grief treatment. She is well recognised for her innovative model of working creatively with those who have experienced trauma and grief.
Jennifer Cowley OAM
Jen Cowley is an award winning journalist, writer, editor and trainer based in Dubbo, NSW. She is passionate about community development, and has used her skills in communication and the media to work with communities both in Australia and abroad. Jen grew up on a farm at Coonabarabran and has been writing since she could first hold a pen. Grandpa's Hat grew out of her experiences as a child, and later as a grieving adult, and her discussions with the National Association for Loss and Grief (NALAG) about the need to talk to and involve children about and with loss and grief. Jen is also a proud Rotarian, and with the support of Rotary, was able to publish Grandpa's Hat as a resource to help NALAG continue its work with those who are, as Jen herself was, suffering through loss and grief. Grandpa's Hat is her way of saying "thank you" to NALAG.
Danielle Maloney is the Deputy Director of the InsideOut Institute – Australia’s first institute for research and clinical excellence in eating disorders. She holds an Honours degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Public Health and an International Master’s of Mental Health Policy and Services. Danielle has over 25 years of experience in public health, the last 18 years of which she has spent working in the mental health sector. She has worked as a senior leader on clinical service redesign and clinical interventions across NSW to address early psychosis, personality disorder, eating disorders and clinical responses to trauma, abuse and neglect. Danielle has spearheaded the development of new and innovative health programs, such as Health Promoting Schools (former President of the National Association), School-Link, headspace in central Sydney, and various NSW CAMHS clinical redesign projects. She has led the design and delivery of research projects on clinical redesign, including the evaluation of the NSW Service Plan for eating disorders, the evaluation of the NSW pilot of the Assertive CAMHS service, and the evaluation of the NSW School-Link program. Danielle harbours a passion for child, adolescent and youth mental health, particularly early intervention and ensuring a client-focused, trauma-informed approach to the delivery of mental health services. Danielle is also passionate about redesigning systems and translating research into practice, to ensure clients and their families secure access to the best quality care possible.
Kerry joined NALAG in 2000 as a volunteer and has served one term as President of the Dubbo branch. In 2004, Kerry accepted the position of Secretary to the NALAG Board. She has attained two Diplomas, one in counselling and another in Chaplaincy, as well as completing many workshops and courses in Loss, Grief and Trauma during her time with NALAG. This has enabled Kerry to offer Grief support to a wide variety of clients. She considers her role as a "privilege and and honour to serve with a highly skilled Board who have a passion for supporting people experiencing Loss, Grief and Trauma". As a valued volunteer for over 19 years, Kerry has contributed to the wellbeing of her community immensely, bringing her great satisfaction and joy.
Beate Steller brings over 30 years of experience in a variety of sectors to her role as a Training Consultant and Spiritual Care Team Leader. Beate has been an adult educator for the last 20 years which included being a Training and Development Co-ordinator at the Centre for Community Welfare Training, Australian College of Applied Psychology, the Professional Development People, and Lifeline’s (Sydney/ Sutherland) Telephone Counselling Trainer and Telephone Counsellor. Her experience includes working as a Strategic Planner and a Community Development Officer at Sutherland Council, working with long term unemployed and especially with people from Indigenous and CALD Backgrounds. Beate’s experience in the Health Services’ Industry includes specialising in HIV AIDS, palliative care and aged care.
Her work has focused on working with organisations and individuals in the development of their goals, helping them to resolve conflicts, work through change and associated losses and developing a participatory approach in their work. In the last 8 years Beate has specialised in grief and loss education/ counselling and transition counselling. Beate has been on the Board of NALAG since 2009. She has both graduate and post graduate qualifications in Adult Education.
Virginia has an extensive background working in education, teaching at TAFE for 30 years. She has been involved with NALAG since 2014 as a member, volunteer and became a board member in 2016.
Virginia is a valued Grief Support Volunteer of NALAG's Mudgee branch, with a passion for helping those who have experienced loss and a strong belief that people should not walk alone.
Jennifer is a registered Clinical Counsellor and Mental Health Practitioner who currently provides Clinical Supervision to Nalag staff and volunteers. However, she has a long association with NALAG having received her 20-year service medal which attests to her commitment to this service.
A variety of roles have included establishing and chairing Narromine Chapter, serving on the State Executive, occupying the position of State Secretary, as well as working as a contracted counsellor and trainer. Most importantly, Jennifer’s belief in Tithing prioritises her volunteering component of this important work.
Jennifer has lived and worked in rural remote areas for over 3 decades and is credited with establishing the first Social Emotional Wellbeing Initiative for the Aboriginal Medical services of the Bila Muuji (Upper Sector) and their 7 communities. Similarly, Jennifer established the first JIRT (Joint Intervention Response team) on Norfolk Island in line with their newly implemented legislation for Child Protection.
Jennifer has received an Australia day award for her work on Norfolk Island and a Volunteer medal from Doorways for mentoring homeless adolescents and young people.
Having worked extensively in rural remote settings Jennifer now contributes as Branch Coordinator for the newly established Hunter Region Branch.
Kaylene has been a life-long resident of Dubbo and has spent all of her working life as a Registered Nurse - initially working in critical care at Dubbo Health Service and for the last ten years as the Manager of Nursing at Lourdes Hospital and Community Health Service. Both of these areas of work have lead to a keen interest in supporting people suffering from loss and grief.
Trudy Hanson OAM
Chief Executive Officer
Trudy is a Grief Counsellor and Educator who has worked in the field of grief and bereavement for over 30 years. Trudy conducts education and training in the area of loss, grief, trauma and bereavement throughout NSW and has also worked in Youth Suicide Prevention and Health Promotion for the Greater Western Area Health Service. She worked for Burnside Doorways setting up and running a Mentoring Program for homeless youth.
Drawing on her early involvement in the NSW State Emergency Service and the Volunteer Rescue Association for over 25 years, together with her interest in loss, grief and trauma, Trudy has developed the Psychological First Aid Training Program - A Guide for First Responders Following the Immediate Aftermath of a Disaster. She is also the developer of the Blue Healers Depression, Stress and Anxiety Program and the Bereavement Buddy Grief Support Program.
Trudy has trained many professionals and volunteers in grief theory, intervention and counselling skills throughout NSW and has presented at the International Conference for Grief and Bereavement in London in 2005 and Melbourne in 2007.
She has a strong interest in Indigenous loss and grief, child and adolescent grief, trauma and complex bereavement.
Trudy was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her extended commitment to community service and was named Dubbo Citizen of the Year in 1998.
Phone: 02 6882 9222
Gerry has over 25 years experience working in administration, education and disability work. He has worked with NALAG in the past as a contractor to develop the NALAG database and now sees to the smooth running of the day to day operations at NALAG's Head Office.
Phone: 02 6882 9222
Dr Kerrie Noonan
Dr Kerrie Noonan is a clinical psychologist who has worked in palliative care and is a social researcher with the Caring at end of life research group at Western Sydney University. She is currently the Clinical Manager with the National Association for Loss and Grief in Dubbo.
Over the past 25 years Kerrie has been working to create a more death literate society, one where people and communities have the practical know-how needed to plan well and respond to dying death and grief. Kerrie has a long-standing interest in community capacity building approaches to death, dying and bereavement, palliative care and how people can build their death literacy. She is the founding executive director of The GroundSwell Project and national initiatives Dying to Know Day, FilmLife Project and ComComHub. She is active in the Compassionate Communities movement internationally.
Kerrie is a member of the Caring at End of Life Research team at Western Sydney University, and is an Investigator on the Death Literacy Index project. This pioneering research has investigated the role of family, friends and neighbours play when someone is dying at home and coined the term ‘death literacy’ and the now development of the Death Literacy Index.
Kerrie was awarded her PhD in 2018 by Western Sydney University for her study titled Renegade Stories: A study of deathworkers using social approaches to dying, death and loss in Australia. Kerrie has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology, a BA (Psychology), and a Grad. Dip. in Systemic Therapy (Family Therapy) and a fellow of the Sydney School for Social Entrepreneurs. Her clinical experience involves palliative care, health psychology, loss and grief, pain management, program development and evaluation research.
She sits on the council of Public Health Palliative Care International and is the co-Chair of the Organising Committee for the 6th PHPCI Conference in 2019.
Phone: 02 6882 9222
Rural Program Coordinator
Brenda has lived and worked in the rural sector all her life, growing up on her family farm just outside the small town of Junee in NSW’s Riverina region. Brenda studied Nursing at Wagga University and was chosen to participate in an Agricultural Exchange program in Canada, giving her the opportunity to immerse herself in small farming communities and experience Canadian rural life. This led to a lifelong passion for Brenda, living, engaging and thriving in small rural communities.
In 1989, Brenda and her extended family moved to Coonabarabran, beside the mighty Warrumbungles mountain range, to start a new enterprise for their growing families. Brenda nursed in the small town of Baradine for ten years and learnt first-hand the struggles and joys of living in rural Australia. “Coona” has been the ideal place for Brenda and her husband to raise three beautiful children, all of which have now flown the coup to make new adventures of their own. Brenda has continued her studies in Counselling and is a Volunteer for Lifeline as a Crisis Support Worker.
As NALAG’s Rural Program Coordinator, supporting rural NSW communities, Brenda brings warmth and knowledge to the position, and a profound level of empathy for those making a living in rural Australia. Her role involves helping communities to hold events and gatherings that are meaningful for them, whilst encouraging positive strategies to enhance wellbeing and resilience throughout rural and regional NSW.
Mobile: 0428 676 528
Intake and Support Volunteer Coordinator
Debbie has over 30 years of experience in business management and administration in both Community Service and private enterprise across the Dubbo, Orana and Far West regions. This experience has given Debbie a good understanding and appreciation of the challenges associated with rural and remote living. Debbie has previously worked as CEO of a large multi-service, not-for-profit charity, with responsibilities for every aspect of the business including community consultation, tendering, negotiation, implementation, delivery and acquittal of numerous government contracts. With determination and compassion, it is Debbie’s aim to spend the next 30 years working tirelessly to make an impact in the lives of the vulnerable and the community as a whole. Debbie sees here position within NALAG as a privilege and an opportunity to use not just her counselling skills but overall the skills she has gained throughout her career to better care for those experiencing grief and the wonderful volunteers providing NALAG’s grief support service.
Phone: 02 6882 9222
Phone: 02 6882 9222