Unison's very own Santa Claus


“If I was rich, I'd be giving away money, but I’m not! I’ve only got time.” 

Andrew is a Unison renter who enjoys giving back both to the wider community through volunteering, and the community of renters in his building. From helping to keep the place tidy and being on call to help elderly neighbours, to organising fun surprises for the youngest residents, Andrew is as community-minded as they get. 

"I enjoy putting others first and doing stuff for others. Some people say, oh you’re too busy! You always put others first! It’s just the way I’ve been brought up.” 

Last Christmas, Andrew decided to play the role of Santa Claus for his building, saving money from his own pension throughout the year and buying one or two kids presents a week which he stored in his apartment waiting for the holiday season.  

To kick off the festive cheer, Andrew strung a set of fairy lights over the Unison sign in the entrance of the building. The next day, he noticed someone had put out a Christmas tree to accompany his lights. Recognising the serendipity, Andrew decided it was the perfect spot to showcase the presents he had lovingly collected. 

“I thought, I’ll wrap them all up and put them under the tree so when the kids get up they can grab a present. I wrote a little sign Help yourself, Merry Christmas, and put lollies and stuff like that. They were all gone by 11 o'clock in the morning!” 

Before moving into his Unison property, Andrew had been living in the same private rental for 15 years when the owner gave a notice to vacate due to upcoming renovations.  

“We were going to be on the street with two dogs, and it was a scary thought when you’re over 50. I was referred to Unison, and then it all just fell into place.” 

Andrew says he enjoys the social aspect of living in a Unison building and that it’s given him a new lease on life. 

“I think it's just brilliant. It’s changed my life for the better because I was just such a hermit. I was depressed, I've been suicidal - too much just staring at four walls. This place just changed me...I was lucky. If I can pay it back in some way like Christmas or whatever, that just makes it worth it, really it does.” 

Andrew started volunteering on a part time basis as a Community Worker in Wyndham, a role which includes calling bingo, playing the role of “MC” at community markets, and helping out whenever the other volunteers require an extra pair of hands. 

“If it's anything with a microphone and a speaker, I'm out the front! Just a couple of hours doing that a day is worth more than a million bucks. It’s just rewarding.” 

And does he have any other surprises planned for his building? 

“Oh, yeah, I've got a few things...but I like to keep them secret!” 

Watch this space! 


The Christmas tree with presents ready to go

The tree on Christmas Day with presents ready to go



If you or anyone you know needs mental health support, assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:  


Unison’s IAP (Initial Assessment and Planning) service for people currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Melbourne's west: 

Seddon office 

Phone: 03 9689 2777 

Werribee office 

Phone: 03 9216 0300 

Victorian Statewide Homelessness Line (free call, open 24/7) 

1800 825 955 to be connected with an access point in your area. 

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