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President Report - 2023

Leonie cavagna president report carnegie toy library annual general meeting

Carnegie Toy Library

Annual General Meeting - 12th March 2024


The year 2023 marked a period of remarkable prosperity for the toy library, characterised by positive changes as we welcomed many new committee members. Numerous enhancements were implemented into our procedures and processes to uphold the excellence of our volunteer-based community organisation, and as a result we are continuing to see our membership numbers rise


Carnegie toy library committee 2023
Some of our amazing 2023 Committee

Here’s what we achieved...

New President & Coordinator

In July, we welcomed Helen as our new president. Helen brings a wealth of experience, making her a valuable addition to our toy library. With a diverse history of committee work, running her own toy store, and raising four children (yes, 4!), she has entered with great enthusiasm and has become actively involved! Throughout the year, she has spearheaded various initiatives, which she will detail in this report.

Throughout the year, Leonie, our previous past President of 7 years provided support to Helen to help facilitate her onboarding process, and Leonie stepped into a digital marketing role within the committee.

Stephanie joined us as our new Coordinator in May and has excelled in running the open sessions, maintaining a sparkling clean environment, and ensuring the satisfaction of our members.

Our toy collection

Throughout the year, we added 327 new toys into our collection. Our commitment to maintaining high standards involves ongoing reviews, repairs, and refreshing of our toys, a process that requires countless hours of weekly volunteering behind the scenes via dedicated volunteers.

We are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming space for children and families from all backgrounds and abilities. We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to play and learn in an environment that celebrates their uniqueness. A large majority of our new toy arrivals in 2023 reflected this commitment, offering something for every child, regardless of their neurodiversity or interests. These toys have been carefully selected to cater to various interests and sensory needs.

1. Sensory Play Toys

2. Active Toys

3. Special Interest Themed Toys

4. Board Games and Educational Toys

Our committee diligently conducted a stocktake session, where all toys in the collection were counted and reviewed to ensure all pieces were quality and accurately recorded in our database.

Our members

Our memberships saw great growth throughout the year, and we currently have 310 members. We’re not far from our all time high of 360! Sentiment continues to remain positive amongst our members, who continue to provide feedback about our toy collection and offering.

“We love Carnegie Toy Library so much, thank you for this fantastic service you provide to our community."

We conducted a survey in April, which saw a really positive response from our members in regards to our collection and services, with our overall NPS +75!

Marketing and promotions

We promoted the toy library across our social media platforms, sharing captivating visuals of new toy arrivals and exclusive behind-the-scenes content on Facebook and Instagram.

Our social media presence continues to expand, with our Instagram channel now boasting 1090 followers, and our Facebook channel totalling 712 followers. Through both Instagram and Facebook, we consistently emphasise the significance of play in early childhood, showcasing a variety of new toy arrivals and offering inspirational ideas for playtime.

We were thrilled to have councillors join us in July to volunteer at the toy library. A big shoutout to Cr Margaret Esakoff, David Southwick, Tony Athanasopoulos, and Cr. Li Zhang for their ongoing support!

We participated in the PlaySpot Play Group in Murrumbeena.

We made another significant contribution to the Nappy collection, collecting over 1,000 nappies at the toy library for @thenappycollective.

Our Google ads remained effective in directing traffic to our website and played a key role in raising awareness of our party packs and securing bookings from non-members.

Grants & Fundraising

We were successful with the following grants:

These were:

  • Glen Eira Council - Community Services

  • Grill’d

  • Stronger Communities

  • State Government Toy Libraries Grant

From the new President, Helen Gilhome

When I walked into my first meeting of the Committee, I was blown away by the Library and the passion of the Committee.

What an incredible group of women!  Not only do they have families, they run businesses or hold incredibly senior positions and work long hours.  Somehow, these women ‘find’ the time to hold positions within the toy library.  Some of those positions, for example, Toy Buyer and Cataloguer, are time intensive. 

Without the Committee, some of whom are standing down, the library would probably not exist.  It is through their hard work in lobbying Local and State Government Members and mobilising the community, this library exists as it is today.

In the latter half of 2023 you may have noticed that:

We introduced a ‘No Duty’ option.  This means that if you pay $100 (instead of $50) you will not be required to undertake  5 hours of duty.  We DON’T want you to take up this option - we need you.  Without you, we would be unable to run open sessions.

All our duty sessions are now 2.5 hours.  If you are not able to attend an open session, there are other ways to volunteer, for example helping with stocktake or reviewing and re-bagging toys.

We implemented a regular review of outdoor toys and party packs.

Installed safety signs in our front garden and outdoor toy areas.

Reviewed and updated our Terms and Conditions, Code of Conduct, Emergency Management Plan and Child Safe Policy.

We registered for the Container Deposit Scheme.  Please help us by nominating the toy library for your refunds.


We extend a massive thank you to our members and volunteers for their unwavering support. The toy library greatly depends on our exceptional Committee members who diligently work on various projects and initiatives behind the scenes.

Gemma Holleran, our Grants Officer, without Gemma we would not have had the funds to purchase the quality and number of toys in our collection.  Gemma’s success with grants resulted in thousands of dollars for the toy library.

Pia Ackerman, our wordsmith, her tireless work and lobbying has been immense.

Leonie Cavagna, President Extraordinaire.  What a powerhouse she is and continues to be.  I have such a hard act to follow. 

These outgoing Committee Members (and those who are continuing on) have left the library in an amazing financial position. 

Our new Coordinator Steph Baldi who commenced in June 2023 is a superstar.  She handles our open sessions with great flair, is cool under pressure and popular with Members.

Farewell and thank you to...

Farewell message from Pia - Communications Officer 7 years committee member

Over the past seven years, I (and others on committee - notably Gemma as an amazing grants officer) have written countless words about the toy library as a place for the community, and as a community itself.  While it may sound trite, the little community we have as a committee is what I've loved most about my time at CTL. Countless late night WhatsApp messages (many too saucy to repeat in an AGM report), the laughs at committee meetings, the commiserations over sleepless nights and sick kids. We get each other. 

As communications or media officer, it has been my pleasure to write strongly worded letters on behalf of the toy library (such fun), comms to members and media releases to share our news with the wider world. The campaign to save the toy library from the wrecking ball was a nervous time, but with right on our side (plus Claire and Sophie staring down those council officers) victory was assured. 

My children have virtually grown up in the toy library, have played with nearly every toy, and I'm sure Marianne will be back through the door as soon as she's old enough to volunteer or even get a job here. They'll miss it, as will I, but I am filled with confidence that this next chapter for the toy library will be as successful as the last one. So much has been achieved over the past 7 years - from the layout and organisation of the toy library, to new toys and financial security - and I'm sure that a revitalised committee, driven by Helen's endless enthusiasm and energy, will keep the toy library strong for years to come. 

Farewell message from Gemma - Grants Officer 5 years committee member


In April 2019, I joined Carnegie Toy Library as the social media officer. Eventually, I transitioned into the role of grants officer, navigating challenges and triumphs, especially during COVID-19.

Throughout my time, our aim remained clear: to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment where families could borrow toys to take home and enjoy together. Despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic, successful grant applications played a crucial role in our ability to adapt and continue serving the community.

One highlight was securing funding for story sacks, fostering family bonding through shared storytelling. Our story sacks category has been popular, allowing families to read books and retell popular stories using toys and games.

A passion of mine has been making the toy library a place for everyone. We have been successful in grants for multicultural and inclusive toys, and toys that are supportive of neurodivergent children and families. I am proud of the toy collection we have today!

Another highlight was the Stay and Play Day in 2019, and the amazing raffle we coordinated with the support of many local businesses.

Throughout my 5 years on the Carnegie Toy Library committee I have worked alongside an amazing group of volunteers. It has been a privilege to work alongside this incredible team and see the power of passion, dedication and hard work! I know the toy library will continue to go from strength to strength.


So what's in store for 2024?

Our focus will be

  • Increase our profile in the non english speaking communities by translating materials into Chinese, Hindi and Hebrew

  • To promote the toy library on social media and our website in these languages as well as English

  • Obtain assistance from our members who speak different languages

  • To make contact with cultural organisations so they may inform their communities of the benefits of a toy library membership.

  • To commission a professional video for our website

  • To increase our range of sensory and special interest toys

  • To make contact with Men’s Sheds in the area to assist with repairs and making parts

  • To continue seeking grants, and where appropriate, sponsorships

Helen Gilhome President

Carnegie Toy Library



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