Community action through repair and reuse in Mernda

Published: 22 February 2023

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.

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.

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.

Circular Economy Communities Fund


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.

Collective action

At Sustainability Victoria, we’re collecting stories about community action that we've supported through our grants and programs.

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