The heart of the west


    By Bruce F MacKenzie

    During the past decade when boat arrivals on the north west coast of Australia were a frequent occurrence, many folk in the Hobsons Bay area came forward to offer their services in terms of settlement for asylum seekers, who were being released from the various centres including those on Christmas Island, and closer to home in Broadmeadows.

    Firstly, residents visited detainees at the Broadmeadows facility on a regular basis and became friends with many. As they were being released into the community on Bridging Visas or Temporary Protection Visas, many settled in in the western suburbs. 

    Providing accommodation was just one task that needed to be addressed. There was also the need for furniture, and many other items and services that enable people to settle into a completely new environment. 

    Fortunately, many good people in Hobsons Bay and other areas came to the rescue and new organisations sprang up. West Welcome Wagon began in 2013, Hobsons Bay Refugee Network in 2014, and the genesis of what is now the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Footscray commenced. 

    All were dedicated to the provision of much needed services for new arrivals and were managed and staffed by volunteers. Fundraising events were held at different venues including the Sun Cinema, and Churches provided their premises to for meals prepared by the new arrivals 

    Sadly, many who arrived in the decade are still awaiting assessment for permanent visas, some have been sent back to their home country, and others found refuge in other countries like the USA and New Zealand. 

    The people in the above mentioned organisations know that what they did was the best they could with limited resources, but what was abundant was their heart and we should be thankful for the generous giving by many in the West. They came to the fore when it was needed and that generosity now lives on in different ways.

    Time to show your hearts again!

    Since receiving the above article the Westsider has learned that in early March the West Welcome Wagon (WWW), fell victim to a devastating break-in which destroyed both glass doors at the WWW’s warehouses. 

    West Welcome Wagon CEO, Colette McInerney, says valuable items such as laptops, iPads, phones, toiletries, and an entire shelf of food were stolen. The organisation’s van was also stolen and returned with damage. 

    This incident comes at a particularly challenging time for WWW, which relies heavily on donations and volunteer support to provide material aid to more than 622 households across Melbourne’s west. The break-in not only represents a material loss but also an emotional blow to an organisation built on compassion and community support.

    An appeal for urgent funding and donations has been launched to help recover from the losses and secure the future of their invaluable service.

    It’s a call to action for all of us to rally around this essential organisation. Donations, volunteering, or simply spreading the word can make a significant difference in these trying times. 

    For those looking to contribute you can head straight to their donor page – 

    Or reach out via their website and social media channels



    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

    Your feedback

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here



    Latest Articles

    Latest edition

    #98 July 2024

    Recent editions


    Become a supporter

    The Westsider is run on the power of volunteers. Your contribution directly contributes to ensuring we can continue serving and celebrating our community.

    Related articles