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Lessons from World War I

CEO of the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, Chris Hall, shares some thoughts on the lessons we can learn from the first war of the twentieth century.

Australian soldiers in Egypt during World War One

Covid-19 will change our sense of self. Some of the clues to how this will happen come from looking at World War I, said Chris Hall, CEO of the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement.

“World War I is a subject I often discuss in lectures. Enormous social changes came about for Australians and others because of this war.

“We had a massive number of deaths of Australians. One in five Australians died.”

(This is a higher death rate than is predicted for Australians from Covid-19, although this is a hard fact to take much comfort from right now.)

“People were dying at an industrial level. But they weren’t dying in consecrated ground and they were dying overseas. There was no body to mourn over and bury because often the bodies were never returned home – the reason war memorials sprung up all over Australia, in small towns and large all across the nation.

“That was a transforming experience, one that gave rise to a new secularism among Australians. We anticipate that Covid-19 will bring the next big social transformation.”

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement is offering services differently because of Covid-19. Its changes are typical of those being made by similar services across Australia.

  • The state-wide Bereavement Counselling Support Service is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and telehealth bereavement counselling is free to Victorian residents.
  • The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement also offers a fee for the national online telehealth bereavement counselling service provided by specialist bereavement practitioners.
  • Its telehealth fees will be waived for Covid-19 related deaths nationally. 
  • All its staff are now working remotely.

The Bereavement Counselling Support Service has suspended all individual and group face-to-face sessions until further notice, instead we are now operating via Telehealth or by telephone.

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