Maylei Hunt empowers locals to repair and reuse household items that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.
In the journey to a climate resilient circular economy, you can never underestimate the power of community.
From its very beginning, Mernda Repair Cafe has had community action at its heart. Its focus is educational and practical, empowering locals to repair and reuse household items that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. It’s supported almost completely by skilled volunteers who repair electronics, bikes, clothes and other household and personal items.
“Community action means getting together to make a difference in our community and our collective future.”
Maylei Hunt, Mernda Repair Cafe coordinator.
The project is run by Mernda Community House, part of Whittlesea Community Connections, a not-for-profit dedicated to supporting community in the City of Whittlesea. The Community House’s repair cafe has been funded through Sustainability Victoria’s Circular Economy Communities Fund, which provides almost $5.4 million for social enterprises, not-for-profits and community organisations to develop smarter ways of using resources.
“So far, we’ve diverted more than 0.6 tonnes of waste from landfill and have delivered numerous workshops teaching people how to do their own repairs, thanks to our partnership with Whittlesea Council,” says Maylei.
“This is community coming together, volunteering their time and skills to making a difference,” said Maylei.
Mernda Repair Cafe is supported almost completely by skilled volunteers who repair electronics, bikes, clothes and other household and personal items.
“We have mentored other aspiring community groups both within our municipality and outside of it to start their own repair cafes,” says Maylei.
“We hope to keep growing our program in 2023 and beyond and support new repair cafes in the City of Whittlesea," said Maylei.
The cafe’s success demonstrates the important role that local initiatives play in helping people to look at waste differently as we move towards a circular economy where we reuse, repair and recycle rather than throw valuable resources away.
“The impact of giving [the] community a choice in what they do with their belongings, buying for longevity and knowing they are doing something positive for our collective future, leaves an important, positive impact,” says Maylei.
But the benefits go beyond keeping items from landfill and empowering community members to mend and repair their own stuff.
Watch the video to learn more about the community action happening across Victoria.
This video shows regions around Victoria and the people involved in working towards a climate-resilient, circular economy.
The video is narrated and has no speakers.
Nine adults standing together with some arms raised and 'The power of community' in white text. Harnessing the power of community white text transitions to an aerial view of Victoria’s coastline.
Narrator: In the journey to a climate-resilient, circular economy, never underestimate the power of community.
Across Victoria, communities are being drawn together not just by location, but by a desire to create a more sustainable future.
More and more are taking action to address climate change; they know how to make a difference and are doing what it takes to get there.
And Sustainability Victoria, (on behalf of the Victorian Government) is supporting the local groups taking action.
Over in Deanside, the Kundrathu Kumaran Temple is one of more than 100 community centres we've helped upgrade to renewable energy.
So now the temple is proudly powered entirely by solar.
A space for all ages and nationalities, they're leading by example - embracing a sustainable mindset for their own needs and promoting renewable energy to the wider community.
Up in Mernda, a Sustainability Victoria grant challenging groups to look at waste differently inspired Whittlesea Community Connections to kick start the free monthly Mernda Repair café, where volunteers repair nearly everything from bikes and clothing to furniture and electronics, saving them from landfill.
This is just one of over 60 projects we funded to help move Victoria towards an economy where we reuse, repair and recycle rather than throw things away.
Over in Yea, the solar panels installed with help from the local Community Power Hub keep the lights on, the wheels turning and the kettle hot for the local Pottery Studio and Men's Shed.
They're also estimated to save nearly $2,000 a year on bills savings that will be put directly back into the centre, improving facilities and supporting the groups who use it.
Projects like this are popping up all over Victoria, as we work with communities to become more sustainable.
Because we know the change that can happen when you put communities first.
Visit sustainability.vic.gov.au and see how we can help your community transition to a clean, circular and climate-resilient economy.
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These localised projects build social connection and engage communities in waste solutions and opportunities meaningful to them, supporting Victoria’s transition to a circular economy.
And in the case of Mernda Repair Cafe, the impact has had a knock-on effect, demonstrating that by funding one project at a grassroots level, communities can pass on their expertise, resources and tools to help others take real action at a local level.
The Circular Economy Communities Fund, delivered on behalf of the Victorian Government, provided almost $5.4 million for social enterprises, not-for-profits and community organisations to develop smarter ways of using resources. More than 60 projects were funded, including repair cafes, slow fashion hubs, community composts and worm farms, and more. So far, 1,000 tonnes of waste has been diverted from landfill and 150 local jobs have been created.
At Sustainability Victoria, we’re collecting stories about community action that we've supported through our grants and programs.
If you’d like to hear from Sustainability Victoria about how we can support your community project and upcoming grants and funding opportunities, subscribe to our newsletter.