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.

Centre Manager, Kirsten Finger, with the first pram and car seat rehomed by Olivia's Place
Centre Manager, Kirsten Finger, with the first pram and car seat rehomed by Olivia’s Place.

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 contribute to their crowdfunding campaign to secure service provision for a further two years.

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.

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11 thoughts

  1. Thats really quite sad that you felt that isolation for the reasons you mentioned. I’ve felt it a little, I guess when you’re not with family or close to friends its easy to feel like that. Or even if you are, depending on who you are and your circumstances.
    We’re going through our baby things at the moment so I’ll start keeping op shop items for Olivia’s Place. Thanks for letting us know about them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, my husband ended up asking everyone why they would leave me in a room by myself when I started breastfeeding and they said it was because they thought I would prefer it. They didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable but I think it’s obvious they were the ones feeling uncomfortable. My son was really challenging as a baby and toddler so we gave up any hope of going out with him for a while. He is brilliant now though.
      I was able to find homes for most of my stuff but I wish I had have known about this last year when I donated the last of it. Glad to hear you will give them some things 😊

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      1. You must need a nicer support 😞 I feel lucky that I was o my ever the one who felt a bit self conscious. Because my babe didn’t like to be covered and I am not elegant. Any attempts to cover up had me nearly flashing my entire top section 😂😂 St least your husband was aware and not happy. That shows some solidarity x

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  2. As very recent first time grandparents we are on the look out for some basics that can stay here rather than relocating the whole kit and caboodle when ‘Charlie’ visits. I’ve been astounded at what is available for next to nothing prices and find it heartbreaking that ‘stuff’ is being tossed because it’s easier than rehoming it. What a great program, I’m going to share this link with the local community notice board. I’d be happy to be a conduit for delivering or storing any items donated. PS, our daughter has bought next to nothing for their first baby, most of it has come from gracious off loaders! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Maree. I’m glad to hear she was able to do that. I found when I had my children that people kept saying to me “but you want to have nice new stuff for a baby, don’t you?” It’s just not necessary and neither is half the stuff that people end up with, myself included. Marketing to new parents is very strong.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Here in Scotland we have a similar service called Good Green Fun, it’s brilliant (I’ve put the link in the personal details in case links in comments lead to me being thought to be spam!). I’ve got so much really great stuff from there for my own little one (including clothes still with the label on, never worn but at a fraction of the price), plus been able to donate when we’ve finished with it. It’s a great service (although unlike Olivia’s Place they’re not able to take car seats, so they’d have to be freecycled).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How do I donate my baby items? I will have a bassinet available once we move bub imto her cot and will frequently have some baby clothes to donate as well

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