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Restart Podcast Ep. 49: Tinker travelling with Mend It, Australia

Danny and Karen with a repair friend in Victoria, Australia

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Two tinker-travelling retirees from Melbourne, Australia fill our podcast with joy this month. Dave talks to Karen and Danny, who spend their weekends travelling and helping new community repair groups get started in their home state of Victoria.

Danny is a talented repairer of all things mechanical and electrical and Karen is an accomplished mender. They have been tinkering, mending and fixing all of their lives. Both collaborate to troubleshoot and fix sewing machines.

Their story starts with frustration with their local authority, that repeatedly stymied their efforts to organise local repair events in their deprived area of western Melbourne. Making a positive out of a negative, over two years ago Karen and Danny decided to hit the road. They travel up to 500 kilometres round-trip to spread the joy of repair. With pack lunches, and short weekend trips, they make a difference.

Both began tinkering and repairing as children, and taking advantage of ample freedom to explore. Danny sought out a very hands-on technical education, which he laments does not really exist anymore.

Motivations and putting pressure on government

We talk with them about Australian motivations for repairing, and we ask whether the environment and climate change might motivate people.

Karen and Danny share their frustrations with disjointed and insufficient efforts of political leaders to prevent waste and help people live more sustainably. They also have no love for the companies selling poor quality products. Both insist that upstream change is needed to help people keep products for longer and make repair possible. They also believe that more government support is needed to support community repair and reuse efforts at the grassroots.

As citizens, they both participate when possible in consultations and opportunities to improve policy. But they say it’s still really early days for the Right to Repair movement in Australia. Same with organisation of the community repair movement itself, which is still fairly “siloed”.

Whatever emerges in future, we’re certain that Karen and Danny will remain strong, authentic ambassadors for repair, inspiring more and more Australians to get involved.


[Photo courtesy of Mend It, Australia]

4 responses

  1. Thank you Restart Podcast for capturing our story and the passion we share together and with others when it comes to repairing and our fundamental right to repair.

    This is the article about trainee surgeons

    This is our tweet on the AU National Waste Policy Action Plan 2019 that mentions product stewardship, reuse and repair with a link to the document.

    Karen+Danny Ellis
    Mend It

    1. janetgunter

      It was our pleasure! Thanks for sharing these links, we’ll add these to the show notes.

  2. You’re most welcome!

  3. Mend It has created a Facebook page for Right To Repair in Australia. However, we will be sharing articles on the right to repair from across the globe.

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