President Sharryn and Chairman Gary with guest Kirsten Finger
Welcome to Olivia’s Place.
     The name ‘Olivia’ means peace, beauty, dignity, and ‘fruitfulness’, a word synonymous with pregnancy, and is represented by an olive tree.  All of these meanings, along with compassion, community and empowerment, encompass our approach.
The Centre in Warragul
     Olivia’s Place was co-founded in 2012 by Kirsten Finger and Melissa Raymond.  Initially established under a national organisation, Olivia’s Place is now independently governed by a local committee of people with a focus on supporting families through the highs and lows of pregnancy and early parenting.  As mums and dads, the team at Olivia’s Place has a great understanding of the need for support during pregnancy and the early parenting period.
     The service is staffed by a fantastic team of volunteers, led by a Centre Manager, who all have access to professional training specific to their role at Olivia’s Place.
     Olivia’s Place has the mission of offering support during any stage of pregnancy and early parenting assistance in the first year of your child’s life.  We provide practical, material and emotional support and a much needed link between those facing difficulties during pregnancy and early parenting and the services they need, within a professional framework.
They are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
     Chairman Gary Surman introduced the guest speaker for the evening, Kirsten Finger. Kirsten is no stranger to Rotary as she spoke to the members about the then very new Olivia’s Place in Warragul. She is a very busy woman as apart from working as a volunteer at Olivia’s Pace, she also works part time as a paramedic and is a mum to 3 children with another baby not far away.
     Established in 2012, the centre opened in October 2014 in its first location, it has now found a new home in a much larger premises and better rental conditions. It operates with 0.8 EFT shared between 3 staff and 4000+ volunteer hours per year
     Kirsten gave a very erudite and interesting presentation on the work of Olivia’s Place, reciting many facts and figures that had been achieved since she last spoke to the Club.
  • Approximately 1,000 births at Warragul Hospital each year
  • Around half reside in Baw Baw, the other half from neighbouring shires
  • ~3,000 children aged 0-4y (ABS 2014)
  • 11,650 family households (ABS 2014)
     It is an independent and locally governance committee fully registered as a charity and donations are tax deductable.
     Their charity work to expectant mothers or new parents covers the following areas:
  • Support for families during any stage of pregnancy (Inc. pre-pregnancy and pregnancy loss) through to youngest child’s 1st birthday wirh Family friendly projects.
  • Consultation/emotional support
  • Material aid
  • Enhanced accessibility to other services
  • Parenting education programs & sessions
  • Parent room facilities
Its growth since 2012 has been extraordinary as the number of families supported is shown in the figures below.
       With the value of material aid in recent years amounting to:
  • 2016-17…….$26,665.00
  • (2016 - 2017 figures to March)
     Clients come via referrals from various agencies and the fact that these are growing is an indication that more young parents are seeking help. In the 2015-16 financial year 32% of clients were referred by other services and so far in the 2016-17 financial year –43% of clients were referred by other services
     The remaining clients are self-referred, however many are involved with some of the following agencies and case management is required in those cases.
     The Agencies that have been referring clients in the current financial year have been:
Anglicare, Latrobe Shire MCHN, Youth Mum’s Groups, Nungurra (Bairnsdale), Partners in Recovery, Warragul Hospital, DHS, GPs, Secondary schools, Kurnai College, Berry St.
Client needs are many and varied as they come from a large range of backgrounds:
  • 30% of clients have a current or relevant mental health issue/history
  • 6% of clients identify as ATSI
  • 10% of clients were identified as being at risk for, or in current domestic violence relationships
  • 6% of families are migrant families
  • 11.5% of clients are aged under 21yo
  • 7% of clients have a disability
  • 6% of clients are in a foster/kinship care situation
  • 98.5% of families are identified as low income or suffering some form of active financial stress
  • 79% of families have received material aid as a result of their contact with Olivia’s Place
     In recognition of the fantastic work of Olivia’s Place they have received grants from various levels of government and benevolent groups.
     Kirsten herself has been nominated and was a finalist for Gippsland Regional Achiever 2015 in the Victorian Regional and Community Achievement Awards. She was awarded a 2016 Baw Baw Shire Australia Day Medallion Recipient for her contribution to the local community through her work with Olivia's Place. Again she was nominated and was a finalist for Gippsland Regional Achiever 2016 in the Victorian Regional and Community Achievement Awards.
      Olivia’s Place has been nominated for Prime Super Community Group of the Year 2015 in the Victorian Regional and Community Achievement Awards and again in 2016. This year Olivia’s Place was awarded a 2017 Baw Baw Shire Australia Day ‘Cultural Contribution’ Award in recognition of the outcomes in family support provided to the local community, not just to their clients, but also by engaging the community in providing that support using the philosophy ‘it takes a village to raise a family’.
     Kirsten finished by saying the biggest challenge from one year to the next is not knowing if they would have the funds to continue, without donations, and valued sponsors they never know until around October about the next year,
     In thanking Kirsten, Chairman Gary commented on the growth, extent and level of services provided, along with the achievement awards so richly deserved.
     President Sharryn also thanked Kirsten for her very personable, professional and informative dissertation.