A safe place for gig workers launches in the CBD

A safe place for gig workers launches in the CBD
Sean Car

A “Gig Workers’ Hub” where riders, drivers and cleaners can come together and have free access to food and drinks, has opened in the CBD.

Based at the Melbourne Multicultural Hub on Elizabeth St, the initiative is an Australian-first, providing a safe space where gig workers can find respite.

Delivery and rideshare platforms have reshaped life in Melbourne, but until recently there have been no spaces designed for gig workers themselves.

Founded by a group of volunteers, the hub is supported by migrant and refugee agency AMES Australia and the City of Melbourne.

Andrew Copolov, a former delivery driver and now an Architecture PhD student, was the driving force behind the hub, which also supplies relevant information on visas and work rights, as well as phone chargers, and other amenities.

“Gig workers are largely unseen and unappreciated. You are barely conscious that there is a human being performing the role,” he said.

“And there is widespread abuse and underpayment. Ninety per cent of these delivery drivers are migrants and this migrant community faces a variety of challenges.”

Mr Copolov said the hub, which was previously based at temporary Testing Grounds at Queen Victoria Market, helped new migrants by providing a safe space.

“It’s effectively a first port of call for people who may have been here just a matter of weeks,” he said.

“There are immediately useful things like free drinks and snacks. But we also have gear – water bottles and lights."


Gig workers deserve dignity, and they deserve respect and it’s on all of us to help them achieve that.


“To the gig workers, I would say here’s a space that is yours. Come here and enjoy it and meet other people.”

Satyam Jayani, who worked for almost a year as a delivery driver in 2022 and 2023, said the work could be exhausting and dangerous with his scooter being stolen at one point.

He now volunteers at the hub, which he said was a place where people could come together to meet one another and feel supported.

“When I was working as a delivery rider, the pay was okay, but now it’s much less. It’s also hard working in bad weather,” he said.

“The hub will be really useful for lots of people. It will be somewhere people can rest in safety and with some comfort and amenity,” Satyam said.

Multicultural Hub manager Maria Tsopanis said AMES was delighted to be able to support gig workers.

“These workers, who include delivery and ride share drivers as well as cleaners, are doing difficult and often dangerous work serving the people of Melbourne, so it’s nice to be able to make them feel welcome and valued,” Ms Tsopanis said.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the gig economy was worth $6.3 billion to the city.

“We want our gig workers to feel valued and supported,” she said.

The Gig Worker Hub is open Wednesday to Sunday between 4pm and 9pm. •

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