A strong sense of injustice motivated Marilyn Dyer to help mothers whose babies had died or were stillborn.
“The first one I looked after was in 1988,” she said.
Marilyn was then, by her description, a fairly newly qualified midwife, working at a hospital in Bendigo.
She was shocked by the way women whose babies were stillborn or had died were treated.
The mothers never had an opportunity to see, hold, or cradle their babies.
“They weren’t really treated like mothers, I don’t believe,” Marilyn said.
“It just didn’t seem right to me.”
She decided to change the way she cared for mothers who had experienced stillbirth, miscarriage or infant death.
“Why should we treat people any differently?” Marilyn said.
“They had just as much right to spend time with their babies.”
In the early ’90s, the now retired midwife wrote an article in the Bendigo Advertiser about her approach.
“Because of that article, I got an awful lot of calls from mothers who had babies in previous decades,” Marilyn said.
“They didn’t even know where their babies were. I thought, this is a terrible situation.”
She made some inquiries, which eventually led her to the discovery of a mass grave for babies at Bendigo cemetery.
Much to her dismay, she said the site looked like “a pile of rubble with weeds all over it.”
Marilyn decided the area needed a makeover befitting of its significance to central Victorian families.
With the help of the city’s prisoners, the Garden of Angels was built.
On Saturday, Remembrance Parks Central Victoria will commemorate the rejuvenation of the site at 70 Carpenter Street.
The ceremony, from 2pm to 4pm, coincides with International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.
About 100 people are expected to attend, including Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Health Ms Mary-Anne Thomas, Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards, Bendigo Mayor Rod Fyffe, and Marilyn.
For more information, contact Joanne Trickey at Remembrance Parks Central Victoria on 5446 1566.
SANDS 24-hour support line: 1300 072 637. To contact your local group, phone SANDS on 9874 5400.