Open House Melbourne 2018: The volunteers

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Open House Melbourne 2018: The volunteers
Open House Melbourne 2018: The volunteers

Late last month, sat down and spoke to Tim Leslie Studio Director at Bates Smart and Founding Director of Open House Melbourne about this year's event which features a whopping 220 buildings - which you can listen to here

One of the points Leslie touched on was the importance of volunteers and how his experiences in London and volunteering for their Open House program influenced him to establish Open House Melbourne.

With that in mind, and in the lead up to Open House Melbourne 2018, will today focus on the volunteers who give up their time to ensure the event runs smoothly and visitors are guided and informed about Melbourne's built environment.

Open House Melbourne 2018: The volunteers
Volunteers are crucial to the success of Open House Melbourne. Image: Nick Bebbington

Open House Melbourne is an organisation that relies on the long-term commitment of their volunteers. As a not-for-profit architecture organisation, with year-round events, they have a small core team, meaning it takes literally thousands of volunteers and contributions to bring this program together each year.

Since launching in 2008 it is estimated that Open House has been supported by more than 5226 volunteers, donating over 26,130 hours of their time.

The Open House Weekend is where volunteer involvement is at its peak, with around 800 volunteers turning out to assist building custodians to manage visitors and ensure the whole event runs smoothly for all. From students, to retirees, to whole families, the diversity of Open House volunteers is part of what makes the programs so special.

Their dedication to the program comes from a genuine desire to make a better city, and to introduce more and more people to their city each year. Very few free events attract the same level of volunteer participation, and it is very rare to retain longterm volunteers.

- Open House Melbourne

Open House Melbourne's class of 2018 includes a tram enthusiast, a ten-year veteran volunteer, a father-daughter team and a Sydneysider who is travelling to Melbourne specifically for the event.

John Bateman + Stephanie Bateman

John and Stephanie are a father-daughter duo that have been volunteering together at the Open House Weekend for seven years.

We both have a love for our city, a strong interest in both history and architecture, and it’s a great way to be involved in such a wonderful event on the calendar.

It’s quite fun to volunteer together, over the years we’ve had shifts at the same building, but even now that we’re in different roles, it’s great to get together at the end of our shifts and talk about our experiences. We both have busy lives, but it’s a nice thing that we have this one particular weekend every year that we put aside to do this together.

- Stephanie Bateman

Linda Haw

Linda travels from Sydney specifically to attend and volunteer at the Open House Melbourne Weekend. Each year she and her friend get their nails painted to match the Open House colours.

I love the Open House concept because it gives people an opportunity to get inside buildings, homes, substations, churches, offices, museums, to just name a few things, and meet the people who built them, work in them, and live in them ALL for free.

- Linda Haw

Geoff Warburton

Geoff has a very specific interest in the Open House Melbourne Weekend. He worked at the tramway workshops for 28 years, was a committee member at Hawthorn Tram Museum for two years, and has compiled a detailed history of every Melbourne tram. Geoff is so committed to trams, his email address even includes his favourite tram-route number!

My first year [of volunteering] was at a building in Malvern. After this I spoke to the area coordinator and suggested that with my experience, I would be better used at Hawthorn Tram Museum, this year will be my fourth year at this location.

- Geoff Warburton

Jackline Jap

Jackline has been volunteering with Open House Melbourne since 2009, attending each year to provide support and impart a wealth of knowledge. Originally signing up as a way to see more buildings (and jumping to the front of the queues – a volunteer benefit!), she has since come to feel part of something larger.

I love giving back to the community at large, encouraging people to explore our world and learn by starting in our own backyard.

- Jackline Jap

Lead image credit: Nick Bebbington 

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