FOR its first public act in Warrnambool, the OzChild welfare organisation started with the basics yesterday.
It opened an opportunity shop on Lava Street selling secondhand children's clothing, toys and other kids' items .
The store replaces an outlet previously run by Community Connections in Koroit Street, which closed earlier this year after government funding to the organisation was withdrawn.
OzChild chief executive officer Tony Pitman is keen to put all the controversy of Community Connections behind him and says OzChild is a fresh start.
He said the opening of the OzChild shop "marked the shift in a tough time for a lot of people".
"OzChild is here and here to stay," Mr Pitman said.
OzChild has bought and rebadged Community Connections properties in the south-west but its main interest was "to get services on the ground," he said.
"Our business is children. Our mission and purpose is children's rights, where kids are not getting access to the rights they should be, and to maximise early childhood development."
Among the services OzChild brings to the south-west is the 'A Chance to Shine' program, which helps young people in difficult financial circumstances develop their potential, such as helping with education costs.
Funds raised from the op shop would be used to help the program, Mr Pitman said.
Another program OzChild planned to implement was Shine Assist, which provides free counselling from general practitioners, paediatricians, psychiatrists and OzChild psychologists for children and young adults .
"We will be able to network that through schools," Mr Pitman said.
Other services were family law advice, early literacy, disability support and services for indigenous children, which Mr Pitman said could take up to two years to roll out .
OzChild is also placing its distinctive orange collection bins in schools to seek donations of children's clothing, footwear, manchester and toys for the shop.