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Top Stories: Australian Social Entrepreneurs of 2018

Just like we did last year, here’s our attempt to wrap up 2018 with some of the year’s most worthy headlines. Skim them again or read for the first time for some social change inspiration. A big thank you to all those brave individuals who are committed to working on innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. We can’t wait to see what happens in 2019.
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Obviously we couldn’t read everything and there will no doubt be stories that we missed. If you read about an Australian social entrepreneur kicking butt in 2018, please add your suggestions (along with the URL to the original article) in the comments section.

Bold Workshirts Designed to Start Mental Health Conversations among Australian Men

Ed Ross, formerly of Longreach, and Dan Allen, are taking a light-hearted approach to the serious problem of mental health with their one-of-a-kind workshirts.

Don’t Call Me Uber: Why Disability Support Startup Hireup Is Ditching the Gig Economy Model

Jordan O’Reilly’s online disability support provider has won national awards, saved clients millions, and is growing like crazy. But one thing he’s adamant it’s not is the ‘Uber of disability’.

Rural Communities Turn to Social Enterprise to Create Jobs and Keep Residents from Leaving

A small rural town in north-east Victoria is turning to social enterprises to create new jobs and prevent locals from having to leave in search of employment opportunities.

Perth-based Mechanical Engineer Darren Lomman Is Working to Stop Plastic Waste Ending up in Our Oceans by Converting It into 3D Printer Filament

After six months of research, Lomman launched GreenBatch, a social enterprise that is building a system to reprocess plastic bottles into 3D printer filament. The plastic will be collected by a broad network of secondary schools in Western Australia and the filament will be returned to the schools for their 3D printing projects.

Buy a Dress, Buy Empowerment

Maggie McGowan talks to Pro Bono News about Magpie Goose, a loud, funky fashion brand she co-founded hoping to share Aboriginal stories and empower remote communities.

Nine Startups Making the World a Better Place

Whether for-profit or not, these nine Australia-based startups are all making a positive impact the world around them.

At The Vanguard of Social Enterprise

Since the social enterprise was officially opened by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in January 2017 Vanguard Laundry Services has achieved rapid growth and gone on to have a significant social impact.

Social Enterprise Yaru Water Looks to Expand

Natural spring water business Yaru Water is investing in building a new factory to expand its water bottling capacity and workforce. The expansion will allow the Mt Warning-based social enterprise to offer jobs to more local Indigenous people.

These 5 Cafes Serve up Care Alongside Cake and Coffee to the Homeless

From pay-it-forward coffee schemes and free breakfasts, to helping at-risk youth learn life skills, these enterprises are doing good.

Wayside Chapel opens Heart Cafe in Bondi

Bondi needs another cafe like it needs another soap opera actor resident. But there’s always room for a new arrival with some soul. Heart Cafe opens its doors on Roscoe Street on November 15, a clever tie-in with the Wayside Chapel’s Wingspan Project. The social enterprise venue will give disadvantaged youth 12-month paid hospitality traineeships, hopefully creating a production line of budding cafe owners and staff.

Australian Eco-friendly ‘clothes Library’ Fights Fast Fashion

In a small shop along one of Sydney’s busiest streets, Sarah Freeman is encouraging Australians to slow down and break their addiction to fast fashion.

Project Rockit Partners with Social Media Giants

Facebook and Instagram are investing $1 million into an Australian anti-bullying social enterprise to create a network of young people driving social change.

Coffee Van Serves up Second Shot at Life for Homeless Woman

Second Shot is a social enterprise started by Brisbane man James Christie last year. It operates two mobile coffee trucks across the city and trains and employs young homeless and disadvantaged people to operate the vans.

Meet the New Social Enterprise Battling Poor Mental Health Within the Performing Arts Industry

Cherri On Top want to boost industry support and opportunities for performers.

Little Dreamers’ Perfect Pitch

Melbourne-based Madeleine Buchner, founder of Little Dreamers – an organisation supporting siblings of sick children, and kids who care for unwell parents – may soon have some big dreams realised after recently winning first prize of $30,000 at JCA’s Jumpstart pitch event.

World First Australian App to Transform Learning for Children with Autism

Autism Swim’s new project is a world first, which will embody their philosophies in a way that’s attractive and palatable for children. A move away from their focus on parents and swim instructors.

Wollongong-based Social Entrepreneur & University of Wollongong Help Develop Cyclone-proof Housing System

Wollongong-based social entrepreneur Ryan Mullaney of Lifting Point Construction Technologies has developed the ‘BuiltQuik’ housing frame system, with engineering design support from engineering company SMEC.

Eliminating Domestic Violence – Social Entrepreneur Chris Boyle Shares His Journey

Chris Boyle is the founder of ‘Commsync’ which harnesses the power of technology to eliminate domestic violence connecting vulnerable community members to their safety network, through the push of a button.

How One Woman’s Love of Art and Design Is about to Make Your Own City More Liveable

Social entrepreneur Lucinda Hartley has pioneered innovative methods to improve the social sustainability of cities. She co-founded Neighbourlytics, a company that uses big data to inform urban development decisions. Here, she shares how she uses technology to harness her creativity.

Meet the Woman Behind One of the Largest Food Rescue Operations in the World

In only 14 years, Ronni Kahn has taken OzHarvest from a small Sydney charity to an international organisation across five continents, and she shows no signs of slowing down soon. A new documentary, Food Fighter, follows her crusade against food waste.

Why Forbes 30 under 30 Member Natalie Kyriacou Left Her Day Job for Business Life

When Natalie Kyriacou started her My Green World business, her passion project was just one of her countless other projects on the go. It might have been an at times painful road, but Kyriacou says she was able to transition into founder life because she had a clear idea of the impact she wanted her business to make.

Toowoomba Woman Employs Inmates as Graphic Designers

Helen Black has prisoners completing real graphic design jobs for customers – now she wants to do the same thing with coding.

Exposing Myths Around a Midlife Career Transition

Maria Simonelli created The Career Redesign Program in a bid to help people, particularly for people aged between 40-60 years old, make a successful career move. In this opinion piece she addresses the myths that surround a midlife career change.

This Founder Started the ‘tinder’ for Suicide Prevention That Spread to 55 Countries

The inspiration for ‘Be A Looper’ began when CEO and Founder Amanda Hart became increasingly concerned with how to manage her deep personal relationships in her late teens following a string of suicides by friends.

Local Florist’s New Hire: ‘Must Have a Disability or Mental Illness’

Nip Wijewickrema started GG’s Flowers with one goal in mind: to provide meaningful employment for her sister Gayana, who has Down Syndrome. Five years on, GG’s has become so much more. With five full-time employees and 20 casual employees during the Christmas rush, Wijewickrema can proudly confirm that all staff employed have a disability or mental illness.

The Very Good Bra

There are around 2 billion women on the planet, and if recent research is to be believed the average woman owns nine bras, which means there are 18 billion bras headed for landfill. But social entrepreneur Stephanie Devine has come up with a solution – The Very Good Bra.

Four Australian Startups Just Won $1 Million from Google: Here Are the Secrets to Their Pitching Success

Google has awarded four Australian startups $1 million in grant funding each to scale-up their offerings and help people in need across the country and the globe.

Ethical Fashion’s So Hot Right Now

Thread Harvest’s managing director, Davyn de Bruyn, wants to make it as easy as possible for people to re-orient themselves in a world that has a warped view of fashion. His role, he says, is to help people become ethical consumers, providing them with what they increasingly want.

Humanitix: Australian Start-up Turning the Ticketing Industry on Its Head

There’s few things more frustrating than forking out a whole lot of money for tickets to a show or festival only to be slogged with extra fees on top of already exorbitant prices. But what if that money was going somewhere, instead of into the pockets of big companies? Enter Adam McCurdie and Joshua Ross.

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Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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