Griffith University is joining the war on waste with its first on-campus Repair Café’s popping up in March and April 2023.

The Repair Café concept began in the Netherlands in 2009 and has since grown to a global movement with more than 2,500 repair cafes operating worldwide, including about 100 in Australia.

It aims to encourage people to give new life to their broken or damaged belongings rather than prematurely sending them to landfill or e-waste recycling, enlisting volunteers to repair, share practical repair knowledge, raise awareness of the circular economy, reduce the impact on the environment and support social inclusion.

Professor Leanne Wiseman is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Griffith University and has been researching legal and regulatory responses to the international Right to Repair movement.

A member of the Australian Repair Network, she’s been coordinating the university’s first pop-up Repair Café and receiving a raft of interest from staff, students and volunteers keen to be involved.

Professor Leanne Wiseman

Professor Leanne Wiseman

“The type of repairs will vary with each repair event as these are dependent on the skill set of the volunteers available,” Professor Wiseman said.

“The initiative not only brings people together, but it obviously teaches repair skills, a bit of knowledge sharing, mentoring, community building, like strengthening communities, but also the added environmental benefits of saving stuff going into landfill.

“For our student volunteers, there’s a lot of advantages in terms of doing applied practical application of what they’re learning, with the potential for getting recognition through either micro credentialing or through work-integrated learning in some of their programs.

“We have a lot of degree programs with embedded volunteering hours, for example in engineering they must do so many hours in the community volunteering, so we’d really like to try and match those volunteering hours with helping out in our own Repair Café on campus.

“It also helps the university show some practical application of our compliance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as looking at sustainable communities, responsible production and consumption, and climate change of course, which is relevant to all the e-waste we’re hoping to minimise.”

Everyone is welcome at a Repair Café and all repairs are completed free-of-charge by volunteers.

When you arrive you will be paired with a fixer, who will take a look at the broken item and discuss what is needed to get it back in action again.

You’re invited to stay with your fixer, watch, and learn–it’s a great chance to find out more about how it works, to learn how to look after it and how to fix it yourself.

The Repair Café is also looking for student and staff (both professional and academic) volunteers with repair skills in variety of fields–engineering, electronics, mechanics, clothing/textiles or even design.

Register here if you would like to get involved.

11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
UN Sustainable Development Goals 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

12: Responsible Consumption and Production
UN Sustainable Development Goals 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

13: Climate Action
UN Sustainable Development Goals 13: Climate Action