About Us

Building connections that bring about the changes we want to see in the world….

joiningthedots is a non-profit organisation and registered charity, founded by Penny Elsley in 2010, operating as a grass-roots movement for social change.

joiningthedots was founded on a conviction that at the root of all issues is DISCONNECTION and therefore what is needed most in our times is to re-mem-ber (knit back together) our inter-connectedness with all things.

joiningthedots is based on the belief that we can ALL build connections that bring about the changes we want to see in the world.  We can achieve this by reconnecting to our inner-self, our community and our sense of place (land/country/earth)

THE VISION of joiningthedots is ignite humanity,s connection to the whole of life in ways that are transformative and generate well being for all.


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.

A secondary objective is to hold spaces for existing organisations and change makers which fosters new understandings and nurtures a tangible sense of our inter-connectedness.


Initially joiningthedots is focused on affecting meaningful change in Australia, while simultaneously connecting with communities working in similar ways throughout the world. In this way we hope to address some of the disconnection – the dots not yet joined – and in turn expand the opportunities for transforming society.

Three focus areas have been chosen for Australia:

1) Social justice issues being faced by newly arrived people, including refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia

2) Social justice issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities

3) Sustainability: the essential need to prioritise care for the earth, the transformative power of re-connecting with the natural world, a central principle for living and an essential foundation principle in planning and enacting effective social change process

joiningthedots is aiming to address these areas not as isolated issues but by uncovering the connections and the wisdom that lies in the spaces in between them.

The Welcome Dinner Project is our primary initiative. It’s a simple concept which taps into something most people are looking for: a sense of community. The Welcome Dinner Project assists local residents to host both newly arrived and established Australians in their home over dinner and food is the icebreaker: a universally shared connector which transcends social and cultural boundaries.

In the four years since the Welcome Dinner Project was launched, a grass-roots movement has emerged. From a series of one-off projects in Sydney, we have now held over 250 Welcome Dinners nationally and we have tireless volunteer coordinators, hosts and participants numbering over 7000 plus over 350 facilitators who have completed our training and who dedicate their time to lead the dinners.


Hear Penny together with Hamed (volunteer) speak about The Welcome Dinner Project at the Funding Network pitch night, Sydney, Nov 5, 2014:

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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