A mobile wardrobe van will deliver brand-new clothing to a rising number of people doing it tough in regional and rural parts of Victoria.
- A van stocked with new clothes will tour Victoria’s Central Highlands region to provide people doing it tough with new outfits
- Child and Family Services Ballarat (Cafs) says it is seeing increased demand for help amid the rising cost of living
- Cafs is hoping to secure funding to extend the mobile wardrobe service beyond six months
The multi-coloured van has been modified to include a change room and shelving that will soon be brimming with clothing sourced from more than 1,000 fashion partners.
The initiative is a collaboration between Sydney-founded charity Thread Together and Child and Family Services Ballarat (Cafs).
Cafs program and volunteer lead Nicole Roberts said people dealing with hardship, including women and children escaping family violence and those experiencing homelessness, will be able to visit the van to “shop” a brand-new outfit at no cost.
“They come to the van, and we help them with brand new clothing which they take away and will hopefully allow them to take those next steps in life,” Ms Roberts explained.
A referral is needed from a support agency such as Cafs to access the service.
Over the next six months, the Cafs Thread Together Mobile Wardrobe will visit locations across the Central Highlands with the help of dedicated volunteers.
Cafs chief executive Wendy Sturgess said the community was “hurting” amid a “perfect storm of high interest rates and inflation”.
“It’s costing more to fill up at the petrol bowser, utility bills are on the increase … supermarket costs are going sky-high. It’s been really tough this year,” she said.
“Coming into winter, we’re very concerned about what will happen. Particularly when you go out into those rural and regional areas.”
The mobile initiative would complement the existing Cafs Thread Together hub in Ballarat’s CBD, which Ms Sturgess said had facilitated many success stories.
“We’ve had young men come and get an outfit for their dad’s funeral because they said they wanted to feel like they were honouring him, and themselves. That’s the kind of thing that reduces you to tears.
“It gives people dignity and hope.”
Read more on Australia’s cost of living:
- Can you guess how much inflation has driven up the price of common goods?
- Australia’s housing, inflation crises lead grandmother to flee to South America
- Experts divided on how to stop inflation from rising even higher
Ms Roberts said an extra benefit of the initiative was stopping excess clothing from partnering retailers from going to landfill.
“In previous times they’d be paying for [the clothing to go] to landfill, so they donate to it to Thread Together. It’s free for them, it’s free for us, and then we get to pass it on to the community.”
Funding push to extend van’s reach
Cafs does not currently receive any ongoing funding for its Thread Together program.
Ms Sturgess said the charity was now searching for a benefactor or state government support to extend the service beyond six months.
“We really need more people to give us that funding. We’d love it if [state] government would step in and take their responsibility as well. That would be sensational.”
In a statement a Victorian government spokesperson said statewide, it had “invested almost $2.9 billion over the past three budgets for children and families’ services”.