A program which provides a free toy-lending service to local children is also helping to address the issue of social isolation.
Save the Children's Toy Well program in Dandenong is a toy-lending service which allows families to borrow toys free of cost. One of six such program locations around the state, the Dandenong service is delivered in partnership with Community Hubs Australia and it relies largely on the work of parent volunteers.
Greta Holmberg, Save the Children Toy Well Coordinator said the program had been a great success all round.
"The Toy Well initiative addresses a genuine community need. Through it, children have access to a range of high-quality toys, free of charge, delivered through a sustainable and efficient model. But beyond this, it also offers the opportunity for social interaction for parents," Ms Holmberg said.
"A number of parents who access the service - many of whom are fairly recent migrants for whom English is not their first language - also help out as volunteers. This extra level of involvement has helped many to engage with the broader community, build confidence and develop skills that build pathways to employment."
Hina Batool, a parent who accesses Toy Well for her six-year old son and three-year-old daughter, also volunteers for the program.
"The Toy Well program has been wonderful because my children like it and it gives me the opportunity to get out of the house and interact with people," Ms Batool said.
"Before becoming a volunteer for Toy Well, I was not a very social person but now I interact with people and help them to choose toys. I hope to find work when my daughter is older, and I believe that my experience as a volunteer will be very valuable in helping me do this."
Since launching in November last year, the Toy Well service operates in Dandenong, Doveton, Bairnsdale, Fitzroy, Dallas Brooks and Corio. More than 300 families access the service across the six sites.
Volunteers all receive training including in basic play-based learning and online toy library management, to help them develop the practical skills to run a successful toy library.
The Toy Well program is a collaboration between Save the Children Australia, Community Hubs Australia, The Trawalla Foundation, The Besen Family Foundation and The Bennelong Foundation.