Mia McGregor with the trailer
Photo: Simon O’Dwyer

West Welcome Wagon (WWW) was founded in September 2013 in response to discovering that some local asylum seekers had been living without beds or electricity in an empty apartment for six weeks. The local community’s response was quick, compassionate and incredibly generous.

Within weeks, community asylum seeker agencies were posting requests for WWW’s assistance, and by the end of that year there were requests coming directly from case management agencies. By December 2013, the online volunteer group had grown to 700 members and the volunteer management had grown from just one person to an entire committee.

Through this committee, WWW secured a grant and began an in-home English tutoring program, the volunteers organised themselves into collection points for donations and spent hundreds of hours delivering much needed material aid to people in need.

During the first year of operation WWW supported 913 asylum seekers (155 children & 758 adults), none of whom had the right to work, all living on less than Centrelink’s minimum income, whilst paying rent. In that first year of operation WWW delivered more than 500 beds, 920 bags of food, 200 children’s bundles and 100 bikes.

By the end of 2014, WWW had around 3,500 members and became an Incorporated Association and a registered Charity with Deductible Gift Recipient status.

A large part of WWW’s success over the years has stemmed from the ability to adapt and evolve to the suit the needs of asylum seekers and the wider community. The most major development for WWW in 2016 has been setting up a centralized ‘home’ for the organisation in a warehouse, allowing for more efficient sorting and storage of donated goods.