Aussie social impact innovators

From designers who create recycling based puns to taxi drivers who deliver food to the needy, we’ve rounded up the ‘all-stars’ of social impact in Australia.

Nic Marchesi & Lucas Patchett- Orange Sky Laundry

Orange Sky Laundry is more than the world’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless, it’s testament to the power of simple ideas with big impact.

Since launching Orange Sky laundry in 2014, founders Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett have been named 2016’s Young Australians of the Year and have amassed 270 volunteers and a range of donors, both corporate and independent, who currently support Orange Sky Laundry’s work.

When quizzed on what aspiring not-for-profits can do to bring their ideas to life, Patchett says ‘to just give it a crack,’- it’s about getting up and doing something about the idea. It’s really where the impact can be had.”


Vanessa Morrish & Caro Shields- Be an Unfucker

‘The planet’s fucked but we’re optimistic we can turn things around. Be An Unfucker and start by changing one un-eco-friendly habit at a time’ – this is the philosophy behind the website Be an Unfucker, founded by writer Vanessa Morrish and designer Caro Shields.

Using colourful graphics, cool images and cheeky calls to action [like Cut the scrap, Go eco fool and Recycle responsibly, damn it), Shield and Morrish want to encourage people to make tiny changes that collectively have a larger impact.

The action element of how to ‘Be an Unfucker’ is delivered through their weekly facts and blogs and shared across their growing social media communities. It’s a great example of how to inspire individuals into action with easy everyday tips and suggestions that aren’t hard to implement.

Eva Mackinley- The Last Straw

Eva Mackinley is the passionate and determined founder of The Last Straw, a campaign to reduce the use of plastic straws in venues across Australia (and beyond).

Having worked in hospitality for a long time, Mackinley’s ‘light bulb’ moment occurred while she was dumping a bucket load of used straws into a bin and asked herself for the first time where they would actually be going.

“These straws don’t just disappear when they’re put in the bin. They either go to landfill or they go into our waterways,” she says.

The Last Straw targets both venues and consumers. It asks consumers to ‘sip, don’t suck’ and forgo plastic straws when they order drinks out, while encouraging venues to give out less straws and help reduce waste through responsible disposal of used straws.


Ravi & Della Parsad- Parliament on King

A cosy cafe/bar on King Street in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, Parliament on King runs a hospitality training program for refugees known as The International Shift. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, cafe owners Ravi Parsad and his wife, Della, along with occasional volunteers, work with asylum seekers and refugees (referred to them by organisations like the nearby Asylum Seeker Centre) teaching them coffee making and food preparation skills to aid them in finding hospitality roles.

In addition to this, every Saturday evening between 6pm and 9pm the kitchen is handed over to the most talented of their trainees for Local Family Dinners. The trainees cook and serve dinner to patrons as part of this unique dining experience/social enterprise initiative.


Tejinder Singh

An air conditioner mechanic by day, a taxi driver by night and a social innovator on Sundays- Tejinder Singh shows us just what it means to be selfless.

Singh and his son spend the last Sunday of every month cooking and distributing vegetarian meals to any and all who are hungry – no matter what race or class. During his monthly food drive, he feeds up to 100 or Darwin’s neediest.

Having rejected countless offers of monetary support from people, Singh simply wants to encourage others to begin their own food drives within their local community.

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