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This Australian not-for-profit provides practical solutions for travellers in need
Established in 1916, Travellers Aid Australia (TAA) is a not-for-profit organisation that provides vital services to travellers in need, especially the disadvantaged, physically challenged and those seeking emergency relief.
Travellers Aid operates from two service sites in Melbourne CBD, at Flinders Street Station (FSS) and Southern Cross Station (SCS), as well as having an administration office at City Village on Bourke Street.
The services offered by Travellers Aid are free of charge, except a few, with no referral or pre-assessment required. Most of these are funded by either the government, through corporate partnerships or through philanthropy and donations. For some services, a small fee is charged and the funds collected are put to use for other services which are offered free of cost like medical companion service, community travel training.
Travellers Aid began its work around the time of World War I when many women arrived in Melbourne from rural and regional Victoria to fill the jobs that men left behind when they went off to war. They did not necessarily have family and friends in the city to help them with accommodation, finding jobs or building a social network. Similar to many migrants today, they had to do this all by themselves.
So many groups came together from churches, political parties and other organisations to create a common body with the main aim to connect these women with safe accommodation, employment opportunities and social networks.
Initially, Travellers Aid worked only with women and children. Even during the times of World War II, the influx of migrants from Europe were mainly women and children, so the work was always concentrated around the welfare of these needy travellers. As years passed, the organisation came to the realisation that it was not in the family’s best interests to only accommodate women and and separate them from the husbands/fathers who were sent to The Salvation Army. So the organisation started opening their doors to men as well in order not to separate families.
A lot has changed since then and Travellers Aid Australia has constantly modified their services to suit the needs and challenges of the changing times. But what has not changed is the organisation’s strong sense of social justice and commitment to providing travel solutions with dignity and minimising social and economic disadvantage in communities.
According to Travellers Aid, “The aim of these services is to promote autonomy and independence, and social and economic inclusion for the service users contributing to their overall wellbeing.”
With a team of 24 staff and over 60 volunteers, who provided over 236,000 instances of services in 2014-15, over half of Travellers Aid’s employees come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background – indeed three staff members come from India.
One of the main challenges that the organisation faces today (but also a great opportunity) is the change in the social services landscape with exciting developments like the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This means adapting to a completely new system, which takes time and effort. But eventually the community will benefit hugely from these new developments.
And of course, none of the good work would be possible without adequate funding. Looking forward to celebrating the organisation’s 100th year in 2016, Travellers Aid hopes to continue these community services to the best of their abilities reinforcing their deep commitment to customer service and dignity.
A LIST OF THE SERVICES OFFERED BY TRAVELLERS AID
Buggy & Personal Guidance Service
Provision of personal guidance service and buggy or pick-up from & drop-off at trains and transport across Southern Cross Station (Melbourne) for older, frail and people with disabilities to ensure safe passage through the vast railway and bus station. To book the buggy Service please call (03) 9670 20 72.
Travel – related emergency relief assistance for people who face poverty, disadvantage, homelessness, drug or alcohol addictions, mental health issues, domestic violence, social isolation, broken families or limited access to education, by providing them with travel, advice and other material aid on a case-by-case basis to get them to a safe place of support.
Travellers Aid Access Service (TAAS)
Free personal care assistance for people with disabilities. This is the only service of its kind in Melbourne, allowing travellers with disabilities to participate in employment, education and social activities.
Medical Companion Service
Volunteers meet regional and rural (and Metro Melbourne) travellers attending medical appointments in Melbourne at Flinders Street Station or Southern Cross Station and accompany them to and from their appointments. The service is provided free of charge to the service user and booking (48 hrs in advance) is required by phoning 1300 700 399.
Community Travel Training (CTT)
Supported by RACV, Travellers Aid Australia is conducting Community Travel Training sessions which are open to everyone across Victoria. Community Travel Training is a practical approach to addressing some of the transport disadvantages which exists in our community. To book your Community Travel Training session or for more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on (03) 9654 2600.
Mobility Equipment Hire
Stroller, wheelchair, electric scooter and electric wheelchair hire.
Internet access, showers, baby-change facilities, accessible toilets, adult change facilities and hoist, lounge area, luggage storage and tourist information.
To make a donation or work as a volunteer, visit www.travellersaid.org.au or call the head office on (03) 9654 2600