Introduction to Western Emergency Relief Network (WERN)

By Past District Governor Ross Butterworth, Founder, Western Emergency Relief Network

As Rotarians we are often asked why people join Rotary. I have found the most common reason is because they want to give back to their community. Sure, there are lots of good reasons to join Rotary Clubs but number one is for service to help others whether in the short term or for longer periods to help re-establish lives.

Serving as a District Governor for Rotary is a special privilege for a range of reasons. None more important than it provides you an opportunity to witness the great work of fellow Rotarians and Clubs around the world. Close to home, out at Box Hill I was introduced to Eastern Emergency Relief Network (EERN), a program currently assisting 3,000 families a year.

Western Emergency Relief Network is modelled on the existing and very successful EERN established in 1995, which provides the collection and distribution of emergency relief, in particular furniture through their 130+ member welfare agencies.

WERN is about to make a difference in the west and near north of Melbourne to those of our Community in urgent need by providing emergency relief and assistance through our Member Welfare Agencies. WERN’s warehouse is located at 3 Cross St. West Footscray.

WERN is a non-profit Incorporated Association comprising of interested Rotary Clubs in the designated area of operations and designed to supply good quality second hand furniture, electronics and whitegoods, to people in need.

The people assisted are those who have been identified to have an urgent need as a result of experiencing trauma or loss, where they have a need to move or perhaps cannot afford basic living requirements, where they are struggling to buy essentials such as furniture and other household goods. Such traumas include long-term illness, unemployment, loss of home and belongings through fire, flood, domestic violence, lack of family support, homelessness, or refugee status.

WERN is run and staffed by volunteers and is totally dependent upon the support and generosity of individuals, organizations, businesses and local government to fund its operations and meet its goals through member welfare agencies’ referral of clients in the northern and western regions of Melbourne.

WERN manages a group of volunteers responsible for the collection, assessment, the repair and cleaning of donated goods. WERN facilitates the supply of all appropriate items to be available to individuals and families in need through our network of Member Welfare Agencies. WERN currently holds in excess of 1,000 donated items available for distribution now.

Rotary Clubs from Bacchus Marsh, Melton Valley, Wyndham, and Sunshine have taken a lead role in establishing WERN to provide this service for the northern and western regions of Melbourne and with Yarraville joining as a Program Member Club, sponsoring a local charity and supplying and installing some desperately needed shelving for the warehouse.

Area of Operations:

The Municipal Councils in the WERN region are: Brimbank; Hobson’s Bay; Hume; Maribyrnong; Melton; Moonee Valley; Moorabool; Moreland and Wyndham.

WERN is currently seeking Expressions of Interest from like-minded Welfare Agencies interested in joining WERN in a Member Agency partnership with a view to providing their Clients with free access to the services offered by WERN. The service currently provides free donations of available household furniture, whitegoods and electronics to Agencies or Clients within the program’s area of operation.

As a Member Agency the access to WERN’s services is unlimited at no additional costs and membership is a small token fee of $100.00 per annum to help with the operating costs of the program. Due to capacity of the operations WERN must limit the access per client to one allocation of goods per year.

Rotary Clubs can assist by becoming a member Club of WERN, financing part of the operations annually or as desired, provide volunteers and working parties or sponsor a Welfare Agency in your area. Every contribution, no matter how small assists the work we do and changes lives.

Program Chair: Keith Currie, President, Rotary Club of Bacchus Marsh
4 Hartley Ct., Bacchus Marsh VIC 3340
P. 03 5367 8510          M. 0421 028980   


Share this with your friends