May 10, 2024

‘Work from the heart’: A very special partnership

All hands on deck

It’s a chilly Thursday in the Spectrum Sunshine office, but there’s a hum of anticipation in the air. This morning, ‘many hands make light work’ from our Migration and Settlement teams, as a van pulls into the garage. Inside is Fred, from Our Village/St Kilda Mums – a fabulous Victorian charity providing vital resources for babies and children across the state.

Fred, like our team, is excited and ready to go. “I love this job!” he announces excitedly, throwing open the doors of his van. Today, Fred is bringing us a delivery from Our Village. Stacked high are packs of goods, carefully tailored to a small group of very special new babies, children and families who are newly arrived in Australia as humanitarian migrants and refugees.

Led by Senior Practitioner Joyce, we help Fred unpack. The team can’t help themselves – there’s coos over beautifully-knitted teddy bears and baby blankets, and delight at the collection of warm toddler-sized beanies, mittens and coats that will keep a little one cosy on his adventures this Winter.

Everybody is looking forward to next week, when the families will receive their deliveries. For Saghar, a Senior Case Manager at Spectrum, this is an important moment that makes many hours of organisation, entirely worthwhile for all the team. “The best part is the happy faces of our clients,” she reflects. “It gives us energy. When there is so much happening behind the scenes to provide care and support, to see our clients’ happiness is the reward.”.

 For more than 12 years, Spectrum has been proud to partner with St Kilda Mums (now, along with Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums, known as Our Village) to supply the babies and children of new Australians, the essential items to start out their young lives here in Victoria.

Navigating life with a new baby

Catherine Rodbard-Bean, Our Village’s Community Services Manager, understands that the arrival of a new baby can be a happy but also incredibly challenging time for parents. Most, if not all, parents will have memories of feeling overwhelmed in the early months of their child’s life. As Catherine points out, there are ‘so many unknowns’ at this stage of the journey. This is particularly true for many of our clients from refugee and migrant backgrounds, who often must navigate social isolation, language barriers and financial struggles as well as the impacts of upheaval and trauma.

Like all parents, they yearn to provide their baby with everything he or she needs to thrive. Thus, the arrival of vital necessities like bassinets, cots, prams, and clothes from Our Village make an incredible difference to the lives of not only babies and children, but their parents.

 From the outset, every delivery is specially tailored to each family. During wellbeing checks and spending time together, our Spectrum team works to identify their specific requirements, and coordinates with the amazing Our Village team to collate and deliver the much-needed items.

What is striking about each family’s delivery, is the thoughtfulness and care that goes into each one. Tucked into a package of baby clothes may be a baby book or cuddly soft toy – for Sesame Street fans, check out a special cameo from Oscar the Grouch below!

Care for the whole family

Siblings of new babies are also sensitively catered for. Again, many parents will recall that the arrival of a baby can be a challenging time for a big brother or sister! Catherine explains how the volunteers add special touches to ensure that the deliveries always ‘feel like a gift’.

As Fred helps us unload our Thursday delivery, he’s pleased to point out the pack of toys, books and even a pair of trendy trainers that will shortly be finding their way to a young boy with a new baby sister. As he adjusts to life as a big brother, it’s important to ensure that he, too, feels special and included.

More than a gift

Although these deliveries serve a practical purpose, they also represent so much more to the families that receive them during this vulnerable time. A pram means that a new Mum can go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air with her baby, that she can safely take them shopping for groceries, that she can also care for her own wellbeing through the freedom of being able to move around her new community. For families in financial distress, the arrival of a car-seat or crib that may be otherwise unaffordable, enables them to spend time with each other, simply enjoying their new baby and creating happy memories together.

Perhaps most importantly, receiving a delivery that has been organised, donated, curated, packed, delivered and even signed by many members of Our Village and Spectrum, shows families that they aren’t alone – that they belong. “In many ways,” says Saghar, “that provides mental support too, reducing their isolation, knowing that someone really sees them.” Catherine agrees, and shares that many Our Village volunteers will sign each package with their name and a heart or smiley face, to let the family know that someone truly cares.

A meaningful partnership

Caring for clients may not sound like a unique thing for a not-for-profit organisation to do. Yet, what both Spectrum and Our Village share (during our proud partnership of more than a decade) is a deep well of compassion for the people that we support, and a hands-on commitment to having a positive impact on their lives. Catherine points out that while Our Village volunteers are a range of ages, organisations and life experiences, St Kilda Mums began 18 years ago with a single bag of clothes – “from one mother to another”.

Our partnership is a way of inviting new parents from migrant and refugee families, to become a part of our community. Instead of ‘charity’, our deliveries are a way of ensuring that everybody gets to benefit from those little caring moments that make the parenting journey special – receiving a hand-knitted blanket from someone’s grandmother, passing on a never-worn baby outfit from a neighbouring Mum, or helping keep an active toddler entertained while Dad is tending to the new arrival.

The work that our teams do to help new Australian families ‘feel at home’, would not be possible without the support from our community partners, including Our Village. As Saghar explains, ‘We’re so grateful. They always try their best for us, and they work from the heart. We do that too. And it’s more important than ever, these days”.


About Our Village (formerly known as St Kilda Mums): So far this year, Our Village has provided goods and support for over 12,000 children across Victoria. Individuals, corporate groups and organisations can contribute financially, through donations of goods, or by volunteering. You can read more here: