They say it takes a village to raise a family, so Kirsten Finger created one.

The mum of four (aged seven months to eight years) and local paramedic is the co-founder of Olivia’s Place in Warragul, a charity that supports new parents across the Gippsland region.

Kirsten is the winner of the second annual Methmac Communications ‘Step Up Professional Development Award’, having stood out amongst an incredible field of strong nominees when measured against Methmac’s core value of ‘making a difference’.

Olivia’s Place was born out of Kirsten’s own challenges and battles with anxiety as a first-time mum.

Like many new parents, Kirsten found the transition from career to raising a family isolating and difficult to navigate, so she decided to do something to help others with similar experiences.

Kirsten founded Olivia’s Place with the help of friend Melissa Raymond and the Warragul-based centre has been supporting parents (both mums and dads) during pregnancy and their transition to early parenting for the six years since.

Kirsten now works as the General Manager of Operations at Olivia’s Place, managing a team of three part-time staff and more than 30 volunteers. She also sits on the charity’s independent Board of Directors. That’s in addition to working as a paramedic (she’s currently on maternity leave) and raising her children with husband Julian.

With Kirsten’s oversight, Olivia’s Place has grown from supporting five local families in its first year, to more than 150 families in the last 12 months, plus raising and distributing over $84,000 in maternity and infant material aid.

It has been a steep learning curve.

“It’s been an amazing journey with Olivia’s Place over the past six years, but I never could have imagined it would be what it is today,” Kirsten said.

“I have never had any education in, or experience around management of a team or an organisation like what Olivia’s Place has become. That’s why I applied for the Methmac Communications Step Up Award – to develop more confidence in myself, my role, and my ability to empower my team – and I’m so excited to have won! 

Kirsten’s prize, valued at $1089, includes tickets to four Methmac workshops and a one-on-one coaching session with director Leah Mether.

The award was judged by a panel of three and is part of Methmac Communications’ commitment to giving back to the Gippsland community.