Right to Repair Workshop 2022

Celebrating International Repair Day 2022 with the Right To Repair Workshop

Earlier this year UNSW Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation, Michael Crouch Innovation Centre (MCIC), UNSW Environment and Society Group and the UNSW Science and Society Research presented an exciting free repair workshop as part of International Repair Day 2022. 

This session was hosted by Professor Matt Kearnes, Stream Leader of Right to Repair at the UNSW Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation and current convenor of the Environment and Society group, the Environmental Humanities programme and the Geographical Studies programme, based in the School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW. Matt is also the current president of the Geographical Society of NSW.

On the day, the event began with a lively panel discussion and audience Q&A, leading into practical demonstrations of repairing bicycles, textiles and personal electronics by guest contributors:

Guido Verbist of Revolve Recycling, Australia's first platform for helping riders, bike shops, Personal Transport Vehicles fleet operators and importers rekindle the lives of old bikes for reuse. So far, they have recycled nearly 3000 bicicles and redeployed close to 500 more. 

Annette Mayne of The Reconnect Project, a social enterprise committed to the repair and provision of pre-loved technology, such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets. Their focus is to actively bridge the digital divide, by bringing these essential technologies to people in need. 

Kate Wake of Unwaste, who works with communities, educating members about waste prevention. In her presentation, Kate spoke about the value of textiles and their repaid repairing textiles from a personal and environmental standpoint. 

More about the Right to Repair:

Over the last ten years, a curious coalition of tech entrepreneurs, farmers, repair enthusiasts, motor vehicle owners, designers and environmentalists have formed a global Right to Repair movement.

In the face of numerous barriers – commercial strategies that limit the availability of spare parts, proprietary tools and fittings alongside often confusing consumer warranty conditions and the increasing sophistication of everyday consumer projects – this movement has made important strides in advocating that a right to tinker is essential to contemporary material culture.

Repair is also increasingly being recognised as an urgent response to toxic legacies of contemporary consumer culture; one way of increasing the lifecycle of consumer goods and addressing the global concentrations of waste. In this context, the right to repair could be considered as one element of constructing more regenerative cultures of consumption, adding a social dimension to the growing interest in circular economy initiatives that are pushing the boundaries of physical production cycles in more regenerative directions.

In recent months, policy makers have begun to consider how a right to repair might be incorporated into intellectual property and consumer law. In December, the Australian Productivity Commission released the results of a major economy-wide inquiry into consumers’ rights to repair everything from agricultural machinery to domestic appliances. Finding that “there are significant and unnecessary barriers to repair” the Commission recommended a range of measures designed to ensure independent repairers have access the spare parts and tools they need, improvements to product labelling and warranty conditions and amendments to product stewardship schemes to address the growth in e-waste. At the same right to repair advocates suggested that the Commission report didn’t go far enough, in providing a policy context for the DIY and third-party repair sectors.

A huge thank you and congratulations to Matt Kearnes for organising this fantastic event and to our wonderful guest contributors for making it such an engaging and dynamic workshop for International Repair day this year. 

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