It’s been a challenging start to the year as bushfires have devastated so many communities across Australia. You may have been affected by the fires or know someone who has had their world turned upside down. The losses are so great, so many animals, so much land and so many families displaced. On behalf of all of us here at St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums, I want you to know how sorry we are.
It’s difficult to know at this stage the scale of the recovery effort. The fires are still burning. There are months and years ahead of recovery and rebuilding, and so much that can never be replaced. Lives lost, vast numbers of wildlife gone forever, and lives irreversibly changed by flames that have burnt through homes in minutes.
We’re so grateful to the fire fighters and organisations on the front line. We can only imagine the exhaustion as they continue to work around the clock.
We’ve been in touch with partner agencies located in affected areas, and we’re ready to support families who need our help. We have provided further information below about how to access, and support, our service during this time.
The community response to this disaster has been incredible. The outpouring of support reminds us about all that’s good in this world when so much feels out of control. Thank you for everything you do to support those in need during times like these.
How we can help and how you can help us
Our organisation has a role to play in supporting families affected by the bushfires. Many will have lost their homes, have been evacuated, or lost their source of income.
It’s very hard to know at this stage what the scale of need will be. Last year we helped 123 babies and children affected by natural disasters. And we’re ready to help again.
At the same time, we must keep providing our normal service to hundreds of other families across the state affected by a multitude of other reasons for crisis; family violence, homelessness and low income to touch on just a few.
Our Regional Coordinator, Danielle, has made contact with over 150 social service agencies across bushfire-affected communities. We have shipped orders to affected families in East Gippsland and Wangaratta.
We want to ensure that our service is readily accessible to those who need it, as well as letting you know how you can support our service during this time:
If you, or a family you know, needs our service, we ask you to refer to the information we have provided in this blog post.
If you would like to donate your pre-loved baby or children’s items, please check our opening times. It’s crucial, particularly at a time when our resources are stretched, that you only donate items we are able to rehome (a full list can be found here). We ask that all clothing and linen is freshly laundered, and sorted according to size and gender, and that everything you donate is of a standard you would be happy to give a friend. All of this helps us to work quickly and allows us to provide high quality items to families when they are most in need of dignity, choice and compassion.
Monetary gifts also mean the world to us. Your gift will help us open our doors every day. We need your help so we can process donations of goods, grow our volunteer family, respond to crises such as bushfires, and pay our rent and bills. When you donate to us, you are giving a family the incredible gift of safe nursery equipment, clothing, books and toys for their children, and you are providing them with mobility, dignity and peace of mind. If you can, please consider making a donation here today.
Finally, we need more helping hands. As many as possible! If you’re considering booking a day of workplace volunteering with your team - now is the time to do it! Spending a day volunteering with your colleagues will help you understand first-hand how our service works and directly impacts families in need. If you would like to make a booking, please contact Gill. If you would like to come in on your own to try out one of our regular volunteering shifts, you can find out more and enquire here.
We want to be really clear that any donation you make, of goods, money or your time, will go towards helping families in need - be they displaced by bushfires, escaping family violence or experiencing homelessness. Every family we help is assessed as needing urgent assistance by their social worker or Maternal & Child Health Nurse.
Image: BBC News
Thank you to everyone who supported us in the lead up to Christmas. The community was incredibly generous in helping us with volunteering, donations of items, and gifts to our appeal.
Here is the story of one of the families you helped...
Just before Christmas, we were asked to help a mum who suffers from a brain injury as a result of domestic violence. This mum was pregnant when she managed to escape her violent relationship. She was starting to rebuild her life with her two young children, when the new baby arrived prematurely. She felt completely unprepared.
When this mum’s social worker got in touch with us, she asked for a long list of 31 items including a car seat, pram, nappies, a nappy bag, clothes and linen. They also asked if we could help her other children with clothes, shoes and a toy pack each to brighten up their Christmas.
Because of the amazing support we received from people like you, we were able to help this mum very quickly, before she brought her new baby home from hospital.
This mum’s social worker got in touch afterwards to tell us:
“Your team were able to source the items we needed so quickly. The family were overjoyed with the baby equipment given to them and the older siblings were able to help get ready for mum and baby sister to return home. The children and mum say thank you to everyone who has donated, this is the spirit of Australia and it was an early Christmas present for them”.
Thank you for helping this family, and so many others whose lives would have been far more difficult without your generosity this Christmas.
Help for regional families...
In December 2019 our Regional Coordinator, Danielle, met with Michelle, the newly appointed Maternal & Child Health Nurse for the Shire of Mansfield. Michelle was previously a midwife and the head of midwifery nursing unit at Mansfield hospital for a number of years.
When Danielle visited, she had left a small supply of toiletries bags, baby clothing and linen bundles for Michelle to distribute as needed.
Michelle has now placed two orders for nursery equipment and clothing and we expect to offer further support as the bushfire crisis takes a toll in the shire and surrounding alpine areas.
"Linking with Danielle was a huge priority for me to be able to further assist the most vulnerable in our rural community."
We have been working on a special report highlighting the incredible impact of your support on rural and regional Victorian families, which we look forward to sharing with you soon.
In December our good friends from Victorian Freight Specialists (VFS) delivered two pallets of much needed donations, collected by their employees. Everyone, from their office staff to delivery drivers, contributed to help provide a happier Christmas to the families you support.
VFS are our freight partner, delivering stock to regional Victoria at no charge. They have made over 500 deliveries for us since their support began in 2017. Recently we achieved our goal of providing our service to families in every Local Government Area in Victoria (there are 79 LGA). This simply would not have been possible without the support of VFS; they have saved us many thousands of dollars in transportation costs.
We would also like to thank the Barr Family Foundation, Portland House Foundation, Gourlay Charitable Trust, Ian Potter Foundation, Jack Brockhoff Foundation and John & Betty Laidlaw Legacy, who have all generously supported our regional service with grant funding since 2017.
Back to school
The holidays have come to an end which means it's time to get back to our regular routine!
For some families, this time of year comes with a lot of pressure. If their children are starting or returning to school, it means buying new items such as backpacks, pens, pencils and even glue sticks.
Our ‘Book Nook’ team have been working hard to make sure children and their families can ease into the new year with book bags and stationery packs filled to the brim with goodies that will help children feel good about starting off at school. Thank you to our dedicated team of volunteers for creating 300 of these amazing packs!
If you would like to contribute, we can rehome stationary in new or near-new condition. Please email if you would like to find out more about the stationery items we need.
Save the date! Mother's Day Lunch...
Tickets will go on sale at 12.30pm on Wednesday 26 February, so please keep a close eye on our social media and get ready because tickets sold out fast last year!
In the meantime, please save the date for the big day in your diary:
Friday 1 May, 2020 - The Glasshouse.
Keep up to date with our news
We’ve recently had the opportunity to talk in the media about our service and the amazing support we receive from generous people like you.
We encourage you to make a cuppa and catch up on this news on the Media page on the St Kilda Mums website, where you’ll find a selection of podcast, radio and print features. Enjoy!
Thank you for the amazing difference you continue to make
2019 marked 10 years since St Kilda Mums began on my front porch. It’s really hard to believe how quickly time has flown. But when I look at what we have been able to achieve together with you - our amazing community of supporters and friends - it’s almost difficult to comprehend just how much you’ve done for families in need in such a short space of time!
The number of babies and children you support, our volunteer family, the amount of goods and financial gifts we receive, our warehouse space, and our sheer reach across the state has grown rapidly. All this is only possible because of the support and shared belief from people like you to waste less, share more and care for every baby and child.
The start of 2020 has shown us once again that there is great need in our community, matched by an even greater desire to help.
Thank you for your compassion and generosity,