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If an item is broken, why not fix it? Don’t throw it away!

This is the concept behind Repair Cafe Ballarat, a free event where community members meet to share skills and fix items that would otherwise go to landfill.

It is a simple idea that will have a positive environmental impact by increasing the life of items with repairs and encouraging community members to re-think their purchases and choose quality items that can be repaired.

If you have a broken item, come in to Repair Cafe Ballarat with what you think you will need to fix it. You will be paired with a volunteer fixer to work on the repair while learning how to do it yourself along the way.

Repair Cafe Ballarat has expert volunteers with repair skills in all types of fields. Community members can bring in clothes, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys or anything that can be carried into the venue to be repaired.

If you have nothing to repair, you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, talk with like-minded people, or sign up as a volunteer to offer your repair skills and share your knowledge. Join us at the Ballarat Tech School on the fourth Saturday of the month.

We can fix it!

2019 dates: November 30 and special Christmas event on December 14

2020 dates: February 29, March 28, April 25, May 30, June 27, July 25, August 29, September 26, October 31, November 28

Do you have repair skills? Consider volunteering with the Repair Cafe today

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I bring to a Repair Cafe event?

Any household item that you can carry that is broken! Due to time restrictions, it’s a good idea to have one item per person so if you have lots of broken things bring a matching number of friends.

 

Here are some suggestions:

  • A bicycle that needs ………
  • Torn clothing
  • A mechanical device like an egg timer
  • A small electrical appliance like a clock
  • A toy that needs glueing
  • Broken furniture, kitchen items or tool

 

An item you bring might not even be broken; perhaps it is dirty and you don’t know how to clean it without damaging it, or you can’t work out how to use it without the manual. Someone will be able to help. Repair Cafes local to Ballarat reported a 71% repair success rate in 2018.

 

Please only bring one item per person so everyone gets a chance to have their items looked at.

 

Also note volunteers may not be able to complete complex fixes that require parts or tools that are not available on site. If you know your item needs a part, bring that along.

What happens at a Repair Cafe event?

On arrival, all you will be asked to complete a registration form. The house rules are printed on the back and it important that you read and understand them and then sign the disclaimer before seeing a repairer. We ask everyone accepts all repairs are undertaken at their own risk. The Repair Cafe reserves the right to refuse any item if it is deemed to be in a dangerous condition and also cannot take responsibility for any item once it has left the premises.

 

After registration, you will be matched up with a volunteer repairer who will examine the item, diagnose the problem and offer advice before proceeding with the repair. In the case of an item being damaged or broken beyond repair, the repairer will discuss the options which may include guidance on its safe disposal. You can work with our volunteer fixers to do the repairs yourself (with their guidance) or have them tackle the job directly and see how it is done. The exchange of a good story with your repairer is always welcome! With luck, you will walk away with a once-again useful item, some knowledge of how to repair other things and greater confidence to do it.

 

The event may get busy and you may have to wait a bit. You can have a coffee, tea, delicious baked goods and a look around – it is interesting seeing other people’s items being fixed. We try and keep waiting times to a minimum but the ‘cafe’ aspect also provides the opportunity to sit, chat and meet others in your community.

 

Registration of new repairs will be stopped at 3.30pm so the session can finish at 4pm.

When and where do Repair Cafe events happen?

Repair Cafe events for 2019 will be held on the last Saturday of the month from 1pm to 4pm at the Ballarat Tech School (136 Albert Street, Ballarat Central).  

Do I need to book in advance?

It is not a requirement to book in advance but we do recommend you contact us if you are planning to bring an item for repair that may require materials, parts or unusual tools. You can email repaircafe@breaze.org.au or register through Eventbrite.

What do I pay for this service?

All repairs at Repair Cafe Ballarat are completed by volunteer fixers free of charge. If parts or materials is required, you will need to source them yourself but we will have basic repair supplies. 

 

However, we do ask for donations to help cover other expenses, like glue and running this website! There will be a jar at each Repair Cafe event for donations. Baked goods, coffee and tea will also be available for a donation.

What if I need a replacement part?

Fixing an item may require a replacement part. It is recommended you purchase the part before bringing it in to the Repair Cafe if you know what part is needed. 

 

If you think you might need a part but are not sure what, try to come to the Repair Cafe early in the session so you have time to get what you need and come back. Otherwise, you are welcome to return to the next month, or take your part and broken thing to a Repair Cafe in another area in the meantime.

Who supplies the tools?

Volunteer fixers are asked to bring their own tools. Repair Cafe Ballarat plans to stock basic  consumables such as glue and tape and slowly build up the commonly used tools.

Can I donate broken items for you to fix and give away or use as spare parts?

Regrettably, no. We don’t have any storage space to keep spare parts, but feel free to talk with our volunteers.

Can broken items be left at the event?

Broken items can not be left at the event. If you bring an item, you must take it from the event whether it is able to be fixed or not. There are many options for disposal of items, including harvesting for components, re-purposing, recycling, upcycling or re-using. Be sure to dispose of any items with a plug, cord, or battery correctly. There is an e-waste drop-off point at the Ballarat Transfer Station where it will be recycled. 

 

Here are some other organisations where you can drop off broken items: 

 

  • Flash Drive is a not-for-profit organisation in Ballarat that accepts donations of laptops, computers and tablets that are broken or unwanted to be refurbished if possible and recycled if it can not be used again. Flash Drive is based at 1223 Grevillea Road in Wendouree and is open from 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Thursday during the school holidays. 
  • For computers and televisions, one Australia-wide not-for-profit service is TechCollect, who operates throughout western Victoria. Visit www.techcollect.com.au to find your closest location.
  • Before discarding mobile phones, you can use the ‘restore factory settings’ function to delete all of your personal data. Then you can take them to your nearest drop off point, which you can find at www.mobilemuster.com.au
  • Do not put batteries in the bin, they are full of toxic material. Household batteries should be taken to Aldi, Officeworks or Battery World stores for proper disposal. You can also check with the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative at www.batteryrecycling.org.au.
  • The Uniform Exchange  – https://theuniformexchange.com.au/provides a free community website which looks after uniform reuse for every school in Australia. You can list your uniforms on the website for others to purchase, or if you are willing to donate them just put them up free of charge.
  • Eureka Mums – https://www.eurekamums.org/ They collect, sort and redistribute essential nursery equipment, clothing, books and toys for babies and school age children.
  • Shoes for Planet Earth – https://www.shoesforplanetearth.com/ is a non-profit organisation that works with local and international communities and companies to provide reused running shoes to those in need around the world. They have a drop-off location in Ballarat at the Athlete’s Foot in Bridge Mall. As well as running shoes (no broken soles or holes please) they’re also happy to accept insoles and spare laces.
  • Uplift Bras – http://www.upliftbras.org/ collects new and second-hand bras and sends them wherever needed. For women in the developing world a bra is often unobtainable or unaffordable. Uplift Bras have a drop-off collection point at Ballarat Integrated Health Centre, 518 Mair St, Ballarat.
  • Spectacles/glasses – https://lionsclubs.org.au/activities/health/vision-hearing/recycle-for-sight/ Lions Recycle for Sight Australia receives requests from humanitarian organisations either travelling to a third world country or supplying shipping container loads of suitable humanitarian aid from Australia to groups in the third world.
  • Football boots and sports gear – Boots for All – https://www.bootsforall.org.au/
  • Dress for Success – https://northwestmelbourne.dressforsuccess.org/and Fitted for Work https://fittedforwork.org/ are both programs in Australia that help women experiencing disadvantage to find work and keep it. They do this by providing free professional attire, career mentoring and development, and transition-to-work programs. Visit their websites to find out what type of clothing is suitable to donate or other ways that you can help.
  • Bicycles – Recranked – https://ballarat.ymca.org.au/what-we-do/Youth/Pages/Recranked-Recycles.aspx
  • ReCranked is a Ballarat YMCA initiative that aims to give bikes back to the community. The YMCA ReCranked Centre specialises in giving unwanted bikes new riders. They take old, unwanted, unused, broken or forgotten about bikes and revamp them into safe and serious modes of transport, for those without wheels.  In their workshop, donated bikes are given a complete overhaul by their staff and program volunteers and young people. They are given to very worthy recipients, with the new owners also receiving first-hand knowledge on how to care for their new bikes, to ensure a lasting and happy friendship.

Can I bring my children?

Children are welcome at the Repair Cafe. It is a fantastic opportunity to pass repair skills on to the younger generation. We ask if they are under 16 they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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