40 years of support: WIRE celebrates major milestone

4 August 2023

In 1983, a group of remarkable Melburnian women were united by a single ambition: to empower women with information, resources and education to help them lead their best lives.

Their “radical” vision of a free service run by women, for women became the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE). The team trained volunteers and stocked phone rooms with information on racks of index cards.

Women contacted the service in droves with questions about major life choices and basic human rights. WIRE provided non-judgemental, rights-based support to help them find solutions.

A black and white photo of women working in a call centre, with a large rack of information cards
Volunteers at work in the WIRE phone room in the 1980s

Forty years later, the index cards have long been replaced by computers, but the service is still going strong.

Jane O’Hanlon, Service Delivery Coordinator, said WIRE is a safe place for women, non-binary and gender diverse people to talk about any issue they wish to share, including family violence, financial abuse and housing.

“You can access confidential and anonymous support through our phone line, web chat or in person at our Walk In Centre on Bourke Street,” Jane said.

“I love that people can come to WIRE and get support finding information that meets their needs – that’s very empowering. Over the years, WIRE has been flexible in responding to the challenges and needs of the community. We are small organisation but have a very big impact.”

An early training session for WIRE volunteers

Over the years, the City of Melbourne has supported WIRE to run important programs in the community and deepen its impact.

“WIRE has been calling the City of Melbourne home for the past 40 years. Even though we have moved offices multiple times, we have always stayed within the city,” Jane said.

“The City of Melbourne has been, and continues to be, a major supporter of WIRE by providing funding for our projects, in-kind services, and space for many of our events.”

If you need support, visit WIRE at 673 Bourke Street (Level 1 of Donkey Wheel House), call 1300 134 130 or visit

WIRE has supported local people with kindness and helpful information for 40 years

Helping Out guide

WIRE is one of the organisations featured in the City of Melbourne’s Helping Out guide, a comprehensive list of free and low-cost services in and around the city.

You can pick up a copy at homelessness agencies around the municipality, or view it on our website at Helping Out Guide.

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