About Us

The Welcome Dinner Project is an initial platform to spark connection between people who are new to Australia with established community members over a shared meal in someone’s home or a trusted community space. Everyone brings a plate of food to share and our highly skilled volunteer Facilitators encourage guests to share the story of their food and other areas they may have in common, throughout the dinner.

These events are powerful ways to build trust, belonging and connection between people and break through cultural, social and other barriers, as we share food and stories.

The project was founded by Penny Elsley in 2013 as part of a broader organisation called joiningthedots. On 28 June 2018, the Welcome Dinner Project became its own non profit Company which you can read more about here. You can also read more about joiningthedots at www.joiningthedots.org 

Since WDP was founded in 2013, we have trained over 400 facilitators, run 500 Welcome Dinners in people’s homes and trusted community spaces around Australia, reaching 10,000+ people. We also have been supporting organisations in Rome and London to run Welcome Dinners.

The purpose of WDP is to enable people of all cultural backgrounds to share their food and their stories in a space of love, respect and listening so they feel valued, discover their connection to the broader community and are animated to take action from that space.


The primary objective is to create opportunities for meaningful encounters which not only foster positive relationships between community members but also promote necessary shifts in perception and values. The effect of these shifts will be a more connected, peaceful society. This in turn will result in the emergence of collaborative endeavours which embrace our collective diversity to sustain positive change towards happier, more resilient and productive communities.


Watch the The Welcome Dinner Project on The Project TV:

Read about our Values here


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Having a simple dinner at someone’s home helped me become part of something bigger and gave me a sense of belonging.

– Tereza (newly arrived Migrant)

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