West Welcome Wagon is run entirely by volunteers – including Committee, Coordinators, admin and those who donate and deliver goods. Our volunteer 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 Committee, 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 Committee 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 Committee 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 Committee Secretary an email via firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Committee decides the strategic direction and operational management of West Welcome Wagon. Our Committee is entirely voluntary, and includes:
Patricia Montagne Longue - Treasurer
Patricia is a chartered accountant with over 10 years in business services and taxation. She is passionate about sustainable living and is proud of the work West Welcome Wagon does in re-homing good quality goods that would otherwise end up in landfills.
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.
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.
Mia McGregor - Founder
Mia served West Welcome Wagon as the Founder and President for nearly three years (September 2013-April 2016). Mia has more than ten years experience in the not-for-profit and charity sector, and is an experienced senior manager of mental health services. She immigrated to Australia in 1996, and is proud to be a citizen living in Melbourne's West. Mia is an Honorary Life Member of WWW.
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.
Alanna Attard - Governance & Risk Manager
Alanna Attard graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts completed on exchange at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Sciences-Po) in France, specialising in international crime and criminology. Alanna then undertook a Master of Intercultural Conflict Management at the Alice Salomon Social Sciences Institute in Germany, completing her thesis on Australia's political approach and legal framework for climate refugees. After extensive fieldwork on the ground in Europe in support of asylum seekers and refugees, Alanna worked for 3 years across all major settlement support programs offered by AMES Australia. Alanna has strong research and project interests in cultural mediation, access to justice and empowerment of minority groups, and joined the team at West Welcome Wagon in October 2016 with the hope of providing continued advocacy and support to people seeking asylum in the Australian community.
Rosie Bennett - Media & Communications Manager
Rosie comes from a marketing background with over 10 years’ experience in branding and communications roles. She emigrated to Australia from England in 2007 and loves being part of the vibrant multicultural community that is Melbourne’s West. She joined WWW out of the desire to do something constructive to welcome asylum seekers into our community, and help the organisation to grow its profile and reach so that it can continue to provide for the people that so desperately need it.
Roland Wahlquist - Human Resources Manager
Roland Wahlquist 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 is organising 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. Nearly from the beginning he was involved in 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.”