West Welcome Wagon is powered by volunteers – including the Board, Coordinators, admin and those who donate and deliver goods. Our team is dedicated to enriching the lives of asylum seekers who make Melbourne’s West their home.
The Structure of West Welcome Wagon
These are people who have liked our public Facebook page “West Welcome Wagon”. These valued members of our community respond to our requests for essential asylum seeker items. There are currently over 4,000 followers. Please note that the former Facebook group has been closed.
CORE is a group of people who have been invited to participate in the running of the organisation in a more structured way. These people have signed the volunteer agreement and undertake a range of leadership roles within the organisation. For example, they may be on the Board, provide administrative support, be a coordinator, or work on grant applications. There are currently over 200 members in CORE.
Members of the incorporated association, West Welcome Wagon, Inc.
These are members of CORE who have submitted a consent form to the Board and been approved as a member with voting rights. Under the rules of association, these members can vote at the AGM and at special meetings called from time to time, where decisions are made about finances, structure and strategic direction. Members also elect a Board who are then tasked with the day to day running of the association, including banking, implementing policies and approving actions of other volunteers on behalf of WWW Inc.
All members – be they Facebook followers or in CORE – are incredibly valuable. Everyone plays a vital role in keeping this organisation focused on delivering support to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Thank you for your patience, and your ongoing support as our organisation continues to develop and adapt and expand.
Any questions? Please feel free to send the Secretary an email via firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Board decides the strategic direction and operational management of West Welcome Wagon. Our Board is entirely voluntary, and includes:
Olivia Goodman - Board Chairperson
Olivia is a solicitor with over 15 years experience in government and health law. Her strong commitment to community and social justice has led to roles in organisations such as Edmund Rice Camps Inc and Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre Inc. Originally from Tasmania, she is now proud to call 'the West' home.
Jessica Billimoria - General Committee Member
Jessica is a marketing communications specialist with 10 years experience working for government, non-profit and private sector corporations. Living in Melbourne's West, she is excited to play a role in the next phase for West Welcome Wagon.
Allison (Alli) is a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) with over 20 years experience as an accountant in the commercial sector. Wanting to make a small difference in the world she made the move two years ago into the Not For Profit sector. Working as a part time finance manager she was also keen to use her extra day to help people in her local community.
Crystal is a qualified and experienced Project Manager and Commercial Manager/Analyst with 15 years experience managing large remote teams and development and oversight of multi-million dollar budgets within the engineering consulting industry. Crystal is passionate in creating efficiencies and practical solutions to further improve and expand our support to local Asylum Seekers. An Inner West local of 10 years, Crystal is committed to sustainable living and has a strong sense of social justice.
Our Management Team
The management team looks after the various aspects involved with the operation of West Welcome Wagon on a daily basis, and is made up entirely of volunteers.
Chris Scerri - Business Development Manager
Chris Scerri grew up in West Sunshine after migrating here from Malta in 1963. He graduated from University of Melbourne as an Electrical Engineer and enjoyed careers with Telstra (20 years) and Siemens/Nokia/Coriant (16 years) in a variety of Engineering, Sales and Management roles. Chris is also President of an orchid club and loves growing a large variety of orchids. Together with his wife Anne, they have three daughters, a granddaughter and a grandson. Chris loves spending time with his family and finds his volunteering activities fulfilling and rewarding. He hopes to engender a strong team culture within his team and the broader West Welcome Wagon community. His greatest wish in volunteering is to provide hope to the many people that we support.
Aaron is a career marketer with over 10 years brand and communications strategy experience with some of Australia and the UK’s most notable brands. Aaron has joined WWW to actively support asylum seekers in Australia with the belief that Australia is an open hearted and welcoming country where everyone can achieve their dreams.
Roland Wahlquist - Human Resources Manager
Roland spent his working life in the wine industry. A qualified winemaker, he worked in the Hunter Valley, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale before joining Brown Brothers. In 25 years there he moved from being Chief Winemaker to Chief Executive Officer. After retiring in 2016 his first volunteer role was Marketing Manager for Cathy McGowan MHR in her successful re-election campaign. Relocating to the western suburbs of Melbourne, Roland joined West Welcome Wagon as the Human Resources Manager. A passionate believer in multiculturalism, he is keen to do what he can to assist asylum seekers.
Marcus Bruns - Warehouse Manager
Marcus Bruns graduated from Fachhochschule Hannover with an International Diploma of Mechanical Engineering (Masters). After over 10 years’ experience assessing construction equipment and designs for utilisation within the energy sector he decided to move to Australia permanently in December 2010 together with his partner Heike. He started volunteering with People Outdoors in 2013, a not-for-profit organisation, which organises camps for kids and adults with a disability and then became a volunteer with West Welcome Wagon in winter 2015 as a casual driver for deliveries. After being a regular large goods driver for nearly 18 months and the large goods coordinator, he became our warehouse manager. He was integral to WWW setting up the warehouse. Marcus loves to help people in need, seeing the smiles on their faces - kids and adult ones - when he still does deliveries from time to time.
“It is a great experience having a list of requests for a house, which we are able to fulfil within a couple of days now because of the large donations from 3 hotels and all the donations from our individual donors. Without having the warehouse we wouldn’t be able to store and send out all the items.”