About Wombat’s Wish
Across Australia, one in twenty children, before the age of eighteen, will experience the death of a parent*. That is one child in every classroom.
Wombat’s Wish is a grassroots not-for-profit organisation based in Drysdale, Victoria. We are community-focused, with programs and services that are therapeutic and evidence-based.
Our mission is to support children and young people after the death of their parent/carer, with our outreach encompassing the entire state of Victoria, Australia.
Grieving a parent is an extremely difficult experience for both the child/young person and their family; it can potentially result in long-term emotional health challenges. Wombat’s Wish assists bereaved children to find a way to live with loss and grief; to move forward and take the next steps on their bereavement journey.
Wombat’s Wish’s flagship program delivers weekend camps for children and the surviving parent/carer. Our organisation also provides group counselling support and/or 1:1 counselling where appropriate. All services are proudly offered at no cost to families.
Wombat’s Wish delivers therapeutic programs and services provided by a team of professional facilitators (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, youth workers) in conjunction with trained and qualified volunteers.
We are not affiliated with or representative of, any religious organisation, and we strive to welcome families and children of all religious and cultural backgrounds.
*(ABS 2019 Census data)
Get to know Wombat’s Wish
Meet Jill: Our Founder & Director of Clinical Services
Jill Crookes is the founder of Wombat’s Wish and a psychologist of nearly 40 years.
In 1991, Jill’s husband was playing cricket when he tragically died during the match. At the time, their children were aged ten and eight.
Over the years that followed, Jill investigated what services were available across Australia to support families in a similar circumstance to what she went though. Based on Jill’s knowledge and experience, she couldn’t locate the service she was looking for.
Jill knew that a similar program was what was needed in Australia. With support of a strong local network and grass-roots funding, in 2005, Wombat’s Wish was founded and our first camp was successfully delivered in Anglesea, Victoria. Over the years, Wombat’s Wish has continued to grow and currently supports parentally bereaved children and young people throughout all of Victoria.
Meet Freeman: Our Mascot
As Head Wombat, Freeman is an important part of our team.
Like his wombat namesake, Adrian Freeman was full of fun and jokes, loved cuddles, and most of all treasured his family. Sadly, Adrian died at only age 36, when Gabe was ten years old.
Read Gabe & Adrian Freeman’s story here
Many years later, Gabe heard about Wombat’s Wish. “Something like that would have been amazing [when I was a kid]!”. She explained, “I didn’t know anyone who had lost a parent. No one talked about it. You do not think anyone wants to hear how you feel about your dead dad. So, I just kept going and felt if I did that long enough, it would not be real. But grief catches up with you.”
Wombat’s Wish were thrilled to receive the gorgeously crafted Freeman the Wombat from Gabe, who says “I enjoyed making Freeman so much and love knowing that he can help kids find their way through their grief.”
In 2023, Freeman is a much-loved feature at our camps and other Wombat’s Wish events. You can catch him getting involved in our games, helping out in the office, and his favourite activity – giving great big hugs.
What does Wombat’s Wish mean?
Fun fact: A group of wombats is called a wisdom!
Wombat’s Wish is inspired by a similar, incredibly successful program, our friends Winston’s Wish based in the United Kingdom. As Victoria’s leading specialist service for parentally-bereaved children, native Australian wombats are a symbol of resilience. The strong community bonds seen within a wisdom of wombats, are also symbolic of the strong support networks that we aim to create around children and young people after the death of a parent.