Catherine Cini knows that grief means different things to different people and can be a very isolating experience. Catherine has been CEO of GriefLine Family and Community Services since 2009 but initially joined the support service as its helpline coordinator 20 years ago. Each year more than 23,000 Victorians, and 55,000 people nationally, use GriefLine’s free telephone counselling service.
Catherine is a family therapist, bereavement counsellor and educator with over 40 years’ experience. As CEO of GriefLine she has transformed the organisation from a palliative care support service to an independent not-for-profit that offers phone counselling services across Victoria and Australia. Catherine has also brought about enormous changes in the development and promotion of community grief counselling services. In 2012, she received the Bendigo Bank award for humanitarian service to the community.
GriefLine’s phone service is now operated by 240 volunteer allied health professionals and receives direct referrals from a range of crisis response services, from frontline state emergency services and hospital emergency departments to other support services such as LifeLine and beyondblue. GriefLine has also expanded into training and has developed psychosocial education programs in areas such as mental health, family violence, cancer and migrant support.
Catherine’s passion for her work comes from her own family experiences. As a child she was aware of the loss – of culture, community, identity and expectations – and grief associated with forced migration from war-torn Europe and starting over in another country. Her sister’s experience with encephalitis inspired her to think about non-conventional teaching methods and led her to psychology.
Catherine Cini has provided an ear for many, and through her understanding of different forms of loss and grief, their effects on an individual’s mental health, and her commitment to finding practical solutions, she has made an exceptional contribution to Victoria’s mental health system.
Reviewed 07 March 2019