When I became a mother for the first time I experienced social isolation in a range of ways, from friends leaving the room when I breast fed to feeling unable to go out because of my child’s behaviour. But imagine if you couldn’t actually leave the house because you didn’t have a car seat or a pram. This was the experience of one Gippsland family who was house-bound for three weeks after their baby was born until they received a car restraint from Olivia’s Place, a pregnancy and early parenting centre in Warragul.
I was stunned to hear from Kirsten Finger, Manager of Olivia’s Place that the service is constantly seeking basic essentials to support local families during the stages of pregnancy and early parenting. I was surprised because I see so much excess when it comes to baby clothing and equipment. Parents can’t give the stuff away to friends and family when they are done with it. So how is it possible that there are people going without cots, prams and car seats when there is obviously a lot of stuff going to opportunity shops?
“A lot of people donate nursery items to opportunity shops thinking they’re able to sell them on” Kirsten told me. “However it’s our experience that many local op-shops are not insured or lack the ability to bring items up to Australian Standards, so rather than them being sold in the shop they are sent to the tip.”
This upsetting information matches my friend’s experience. She told me she could not find an op-shop that would take her cot so she used it as firewood.
Having recognised the need for a safe re-homing service for families, Olivia’s Place became fully insured to take donated baby items, and established a partnership with Melbourne organisation, St Kilda Mums. St Kilda Mums specializes in the re-homing of baby items and is winner of the 2015 Premier’s Sustainability Award. As a result of the partnership, Olivia’s Place is able to conduct safety checks and ensure items comply with current Australian Standards and Victorian Consumer Law prior to re-homing.
Kirsten is now encouraging people to donate their pre-loved baby items to Olivia’s Place so that the items are diverted from landfill and the centre can meet demand. “Donations of cots, car restraints and prams – particularly double prams – are very hard to source. We regularly have families on waiting lists for these items” she said.
In addition, Kirsten welcomes businesses in surrounding areas to volunteer to become collection points (by arrangement) for items destined for Olivia’s Place.
“We periodically have offers of donations from people in surrounding towns like Leongatha, Moe, Morwell, and Traralgon who are not able to deliver the items to us. We’d love to have a local drop-off point that we can arrange collection from.”
“We’re also working on developing relationships with opportunity shops where they pass cots, prams and car restraints on to us for assessment for re-homing rather than just sending the items to landfill, and the response has been positive so far” said Kirsten.
So please re-home your baby items at Olivia’s Place. It doesn’t make sense to let things go to landfill when others need them. If you don’t have items to donate please consider contributing in other ways to secure service provision.
If you aren’t near Warragul, check the St Kilda Mums website for a list of sister organisations in Australia and overseas that you can donate to.
Also note that some opshops can rehome items like cots, prams and car seats so it’s best to ask first.