Our History

Whittlesea Community Connections first opened its doors in December 1973 as the Whittlesea Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  The Bureau was established through the efforts of local residents, associated with the Christian churches in the Lalor/Epping area and who were concerned with the lack of information about services available in the municipality to meet the support needs of residents.

These residents trained as community information workers and sought grants and support from Council and local service clubs to establish and maintain the Bureau.

For many years the Bureau operated with small grants from Council and was powered by a small group of local volunteers who staffed the service around ten hours per week and undertook ongoing training and lots of fundraising.  The Bureau focused on providing local people with the information, referral and advice that they needed to access services. The major issues presented by clients were around family and personal relationships, emergency relief, income support and legal issues.

Our first office that we shared with a local Lalor Accountant was at 274 Station Street Lalor. In 1974, Tony Comito, a lawyer based in Lalor, offered the Bureau a room in his new offices at 284a Station Street.  It was here, in 1978, that we also started our free legal advice service, coordinated by Tony Comito and supported by local solicitors and residents who volunteered on Monday nights.

In 1987, the May Road Library Complex was built and Council provided WCC with a room for its activities. This relocation increased the number of clients seen by the Bureau.

Three years later in 1990, our first Settlement Support Worker was appointed, reflecting the need to respond to the growing cultural diversity of the community. She was the first full-time employee of the Bureau. Her employment led to a significant increase in the proportion of clients from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

In March 1990 the name Community Information Whittlesea was adopted.

1996 saw us relocate to our current premises at Shop 111, Epping Plaza. This was the same year the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs offered funding for two new positions to work specifically with the Macedonian community. A renegotiated agreement with Council in that year also led to an increase in funding that allowed us to extend our opening hours, increase our volunteer pool and broaden our service offerings.

In August 1997 WCC began providing emergency relief services following the withdrawal of the Brotherhood of St. Laurence from the area.
A 3-year funding contract was negotiated with the Council in 1998.

In 2005, the agency changed its name from Community Information Whittlesea to Whittlesea Community Connections (WCC).

From that time, WCC has broadened its funding sources and has worked in partnership with numerous other community and government agencies to diversify its service offerings as well as strengthen its advocacy capacity.

We have also steadily increased the number of service points across the municipality and into neighbouring municipalities.

Throughout this time, WCC has continued to rely on the commitment and dedication of its volunteers to deliver an extraordinary range of services and programs across community development, information and education, material and food relief, migrant and refugee settlement, family violence, children and youth activities, legal services, employment and training assistance, volunteer support and community transport,

Some of the more significant achievements over the past 50 years have been the establishment of:

  • Public Access Computer Facilities (2000)
  • Whittlesea Volunteer Resource Service (2003)
  • Whittlesea Connect – Whittlesea’s first Community Transport Service (2006)
  • Thomastown West Community Hub Service (2004)
  • Learner driver education (l2P) program (2009)
  • Women-in-Work Childcare Community Enterprise (2010)
  • Community Legal Services (2013)
  • Mernda Community House (2018)
  • CALD Women’s Group and grants program (2018)
  • Empower and Engage projects with young people (2018)
  • Family Violence Housing Brokerage Project (2019)
  • Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (2019)
  • Whittlesea Farm and Food Collective (2019)
  • OurBus, community bus hire (2019)
  • driver education school DriverEd (2019)
  • Road2Work employment program for migrants and refugees (2019)
  • Whittlesea Anti-Racism Community project with Victoria University (2020)
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Engagement (2020)
  • Bicultural Health Navigators (2021)
  • Wollert Community Engagement (2021)
  • CALD Women’s Driver Program (2021)
  • Jobs Victoria Advocates & Jobs Victoria Employment Services (2021)
  • Carers Employment Services (2022)
  • Nugal biik Indigenous plant nursery (2022)
  • Whittlesea Pride Festival (2023)

2023 marks the 50th year of operation for Whittlesea Community Connections.  Over the years, we have lost touch with people who have contributed to our success. We are using our 50th anniversary to re-connect with past volunteers, staff, board members and supporters. We would love to hear your stories of your experience with Whittlesea Community Connections.

Please use the form below to share your story.

Your WCC Story

Tell the story of your experience of Whittlesea Community Connections to add to our collection which will be shared at our 50th Birthday Celebration event.

Describe your role or roles with WCC.
Share the story of your experience with WCC.