12 May 2023

Canberra mum takes Mother's Day stand against 'nappy stress' after 'awful' incident involving son

| Travis Radford
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Jorja Wallace and son.

Jorja Wallace (left) joined Nappy Collective to help ease ‘nappy stress’ in the capital after an incident involving her son (right). Photos: Jorja Wallace.

Canberra mum Jorja Wallace’s journey began in February after she says childcare staff left her toddler son in the same nappy all day.

“[The nappy] was falling off him, he was noticeably uncomfortable and it was really upsetting to see that lack of care and it just felt awful,” she says.

“He was really upset by it. He’s still impacted by it and has started toilet training himself because he just doesn’t like the feeling of a nappy now.

“I was reflecting on how awful it would be to be in a situation where you just do not physically have another nappy to put on your child.”

Enter the Nappy Collective, an Australian not-for-profit currently holding its major annual Mother’s Day nappy collection drive from 8-21 May.

Busy Bees At The Park team with their nappy collection box.

Busy Bees At The Park (pictured) is one of the five collection points where Canberrans can drop off their new or leftover nappies or nappy pants.

Now in its 10th year of operation, Nappy Collective collects and redistributes nappies to Australian families experiencing ‘nappy stress’, which it says can cause distress and infection in children, create barriers to accessing childcare, and lead to financial and emotional distress for parents.

Jorja says this plight resonates with her and for the past month she’s volunteered as ACT community partner and collection point coordinator.

“If you’re in a situation where you’re having to choose between feeding your family and changing your child, that’s where the donations come in,” Jorja says.

“That might be because they’re escaping a domestic violence situation, facing homelessness because of the cost of living crisis or affected by a natural disaster.”

Nappy Collective estimates one in 10 Australian families can’t afford the nappies they need and some 280,000 children under five suffer nappy stress each year across Australia. It says that cost of living pressures have doubled demand for its services over the past 12 months.

READ ALSO Celebrating Mother’s Day with pets around? Here’s what RSPCA ACT wants you to know

Although less than 2 per cent of Australia’s population is estimated by the ABS to live in the ACT, the region accounts for about 17 per cent of Nappy Collective’s total Mother’s Day collection goal of 350,000 nappies.

“We’ve got one of the largest regional needs, so from this drive alone in Canberra we need 60,600 nappies,” Jorja says.

“We’re looking at about 200 families each month needing assistance with nappies in our local region.”

Between the Mother’s Day collection drive and another upcoming for Father’s Day, Nappy Collective aims to collect 100,000 nappies for families in the ACT and a total of 1.5 million nappies Australia-wide over 2023, which it says will still only deliver 5 per cent of what’s required.

READ ALSO Things to do in Canberra this Mother’s Day (14 May)

Both people and organisations can get involved, with the most obvious way being to donate new or spare nappies or nappy pants. The most-needed sizes in the ACT are the small newborn sizes and the size five, six and pull-ups, which can be dropped off at five local collection points.

“We’re kind of like that middle man so we get people to donate the nappies in and then we collect them, check them, sort them and take them to our community partners,” Jorja says.

“Mostly in Canberra that’s Roundabout, who then passes them on directly to families in need or to some of the other community partners in Canberra like Karinya House.”

Canberra organisations are also invited to volunteer as collection points or if they provide support to families in need, as community partners. For people without children or who don’t have any nappies to spare, Jorja says they can get involved by donating funds or volunteering like her.

To find a collection point, visit the Nappy Collective website. For other inquiries, contact Jorja at canberra@thenappycollective.org.au.

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