Repair Café used to be located at the Sustainable Activity Centre but can now be found at Wodonga Senior Citizens centre at 15 Havelock St, Wodonga. We were fortunate enough to speak to Lizette about the Repair Café, and how it has helped reduce the amount of waste to landfill from our local community.

Tell us about the concept of a Repair Café?

Repair cafes are a social place where local volunteers with specialised skills come together to help others fix their broken household items. We meet on the first Saturday of each month except January, from 10am – 1pm. The Repair Café is free and everyone is welcome to attend with up to three items per person, per session. Just come to our reception area and we’ll direct you to one of the repair stations. The idea is that people can work together with the guidance of our experienced volunteers to learn new skills and fix items to bypass landfill.

What inspired you to start up the Repair Café?

I started the Repair Café in 2015 because I’m passionate about the environment and wanted to do something tangible to help our community reduce waste. At the time there were only two other repair cafes in Australia – ours became the third.

There are now approximately 40 and we’re the second largest in terms of number of volunteers and items fixed each session. Although my main initial priority was environmental, what I’ve grown to love about the Repair Café is the feeling of community that comes from our sessions. Each repair is an act of kindness between strangers and it is really heart-warming to see the benefits of this service on so many different people in our community.

Speaking of benefits, how many items have been repaired since 2015 and what sort of things can you help fix?

So far, our volunteers and the community have helped repair almost 2500 items. We have a team of roughly 20 volunteers per session with an average of 60 visitors. In addition to our feature sessions, our staple repair stations are:
• Clothing
• Textiles
• Furniture
• Battery operated appliances
• Blunt garden tools such as secateurs

What sort of things can people fix in your feature sessions?

Our regular feature sessions (offered about once every three or so months) include costume jewellery, books, leather goods, bikes and a device help desk to trouble-shoot issues with mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

We also offer one-off features such as fixing camping equipment, bras and fishing rods as well as demonstrations including lawn mower maintenance, replacing fly screens and stain removal. Unfortunately, we can’t fix electrical appliances for safety and insurance reasons. Keep an eye on our Repair Café Albury-Wodonga Facebook page for upcoming feature sessions that may interest you.

Why is it so important to reduce the amount of waste that we are throwing out?

In general, we are a throw-away society, which is not a sustainable way of living. By repairing items and buying fewer new ones you’re not only keeping items out of landfill but helping reduce your carbon footprint. Many people are unaware of the amount of energy and resources that go into the making of new items. Fixing and reusing things is an important step everyone can make to improve our environment.

We’ve heard the Repair Café was awarded with an Australia Day award?

We’re stoked! We’re the winner of this year’s (2020) Wodonga Council’s Community Organisation of the Year award, having fixed almost 2,500 items, helped 2,250 visitors, diverted 4,000kg of waste from landfill and saved residents thousands of dollars. Magic!

Is there anything else that you would like to mention?

Please check us out on Facebook page for news about our feature sessions, inspiring fix-it stories and lots of fun photos – We’d like to say a special thanks to the many people and organisations that assist us.

Thank you to our fabulous, dedicated volunteers, Halve Waste for sponsoring us, the Sustainable Activity Centre for providing an ideal venue for so long, and Kooka Brotha’s for donating delicious morning teas. With the help of the community we’ve diverted thousands items from landfill with hopefully many more to come. We look forward to helping residents in our new venue, the Wodonga Senior Citizens Centre (Havelock Street, next to The Cube) from April. See you there!

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