B4R – History

How “Bikes for Refugees SA Inc” started

The scheme had its origins in 2002,  in people who were members of the Bicycle Institute of South Australia (BISA) –  a long established community group that advocates for use of bicycles for every day transport, promotes cycling, and aims to improve facilities for cyclists in S Australia. Many BISA members also had interests in social justice, environment and sustainable development.

In 2002, the sister of a Bicycle Institute member met some African people speaking French, which she also spoke. They were from Congo, and expressed interest in cycling here, as they didn’t have cars.

Bicycle Institute members responded with 18 bikes: 4 for the Congolese people; 14 to the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) to help others. The scheme continued for a number of years, supplying bikes to other welfare organisations to give out.

2003-2010: The scheme ran from the back yard of a suburban home, informally, small scale, but expanding over time.

2011-2014 In 2011, Ianto Ware, Jeremy Miller and others of the Bicycle Institute of S Australia, set up Adelaide Community Bicycle Workshop, with a grant from State Govt Dept of Premier & Cabinet. West Torrens Council offered use of a room at Hayhurst Community Centre, Long Street Plympton. The Workshop was a shared community resource, where many Adelaide cyclists and bike clubs, could use, to work on bikes. Bikes for Refugees used it to work on its own bikes, and also managed day to day running of the workshop.  The workshop was mainly open Saturday mornings.

2013-4 – incorporatioin and formalization of arrangements – The scheme had grown to the size where it was no longer appropriate to run informally, and where its scale justified the effort and time involved in formalizing arrangements. The scheme adopted a constitution and registered as an incorporated association, not for profit, and with strictly charitable aims in line with legislation. It  registered business names, and acquired an ABN. It formally took on responsibility for running of Adelaide Community Bicycle Workshop. It also registered with State and Federal government as a charity, and obtained a licence to obtain funds for charitable purposes.

2015 to present. In Feb 2015 the workshop moved to become part of the Conservation Council of SA’s “Joinery” precinct, in the old bus depot, Franklin Street, Adelaide. The joinery is shared space used by several community organisations and small businesses, with a common focus on sustainability. The Workshop consists of 2 shipping containers plus work space, sited in an attractive community garden run by Common Ground. Opening  hours are Saturdays, Mondays and Tuesdays. The scheme currently handles around 12 bikes a week, or 600 bikes a year, most of which are put back into use.