One Year on the Orange Sky Board

It’s been 12 months since Andrew Fraser joined Orange Sky Australia as Chair of the Board, and he’s helped steer the ship during the most challenging year in Orange Sky’s history. Andrew is a former Deputy Premier of Queensland and was previously an executive at the National Rugby League. He has since taken on a number of board and advisory positions including the Chair of Sunsuper and Motorsport Australia, advisory board member at Ernst & Young, and board roles at the New Zealand Rugby League, BESIX Watpac, 3rd Space and Hear and Say. Over the past year, he’s worked closely with Nic and Lucas to ensure Orange Sky’s sustainability and resilience as we work together to set Orange Sky up for long term success.

“When stepping into my role as Chair of the Orange Sky Board in November 2019, the success of the organisation was obvious; growth, commitment to the mission, innovation and a culture that is its best asset. 

Orange Sky is now an organisation that engages with people from all walks of life who are connected and committed to our purpose. We’ve got an obligation to stakeholders, starting with the people who rely on us, to continue to deliver our service when times are tough. That’s about building resilience, particularly from a financial perspective… but I very much see my role here as not interfering with the ‘secret sauce’.

Having more mature governance processes doesn’t mean suffocating the original entrepreneurialism, innovation and agility that has defined Orange Sky. It means we need to be calculated about the risks we take and have a view about long-term sustainability, but it also means we should absolutely keep front and centre how we got here in the first place.

What’s being built here by the Orange Sky team is a really different proposition to how it originally began in a garage six years ago. The maturity of a governance system has got to match the maturity of the organisation, and Orange Sky today is a different beast to Sudsy, and Nic and Lucas with two washing machines in 2014. Everything needs to evolve and mature, and that’s the same with the board structure.

As Director and Chair of the Board, my role is to make sure that, as an organisation, we’ve got the systems and strategy in place to ensure that Orange Sky can keep doing what it’s doing and evolve.

Earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our world and we were confronted with a real-life drill on the organisation’s resilience. We are far from the end of this pandemic, and even further away from dealing with its many consequences, but for Orange Sky – we know that we will be part of the solution. The team responded with agility; problem-solving, re-designing and re-imagining the way we operate from the ground up. It was distressing to make the call to pause our services, but heartening to see how quickly we re-established them again.

When you’re asking people to pledge their money or provide their own resources towards a charitable effort, you need to give them the comfort that the effort they’re making is going to be directed to what it says on the tin. And what I mean by that is we’ve got to deliver on that trust and ensure that if people give money to support this organisation, it’s going to go and do good things.

I think as the donor market becomes more exacting and demanding, people have an expectation or a desire to see how an organisation is structured, how it’s run, how it’s going to ensure that their money is being applied in a way that they expect. And so it’s really a community expectation now, and I think as time rolls on, that expectation is only going to increase.

There’s thousands of charities out there who are all well-intentioned and at various levels of capability. The distinct proposition for Orange Sky, I think, is that it approaches its task in a way that is innovative and agile, and seeks to keep the people who it serves at the forefront. And when you have that singularity of purpose, that’s when you can truly achieve great things. When organisations become organisations for the sake of themselves, then you can lose the focus. I think the focus here remains the same and that’s why you’ll still see Nic and Lucas, and the Board members out on shift. The job isn’t to sit inside the boardroom. The job is to actually live the values of the organisation.

Orange Sky is a people business. We need to think about everyone who’s a part of the organisation and keep that at the forefront of our understanding; that’s the single biggest asset that we have.”

Andrew celebrates one year on the Orange Sky Board alongside Non-Executive Directors, Paula Holden and Sommer Davies. You can learn more about Orange Sky’s Board of Directors here

Want to know more about Orange Sky’s Board of Directors?

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Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

Community Recovery Support

“We’ve seen big fires but we’ve never really seen fires this big and this fast before.”

This is what my new friend, Macka, told me when I asked how the recent fires in East Gippsland compared to previous fire seasons. Macka has spent the last 30 years of his life fighting fires, both as a volunteer and a professional. He currently volunteers at the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Johnsonville.
When I asked what motivates him to run towards a fire, when everyone else is running the away, he shrugs and says, “It’s just the Aussie way to get in and help someone else out”.

That sentiment was something we saw over and over again on our trip. We visited communities all the way from Bairnsdale to Mallacoota. At every stop along the way, we were welcomed with open arms. Communities that had lost so much couldn’t wait to share cups of tea and swap stories.

Seeing the devastation firsthand was something else. Driving through whole areas of charred forest, passing blackened road signs and driveways with no houses left at the end of them was confronting to say the least. I expected to see grief, loss and mourning but I really didn’t expect to see so much hope, happiness and camaraderie. I didn’t expect to listen to stories that made me laugh followed by stories that made me cry. I didn’t expect to meet people that would have such an impact on the way I thought about my life, and what I can contribute to others.

I think that Louise, who is a former mental health nurse and the wife of the CFA Ensay Captain, summed it up beautifully.

She told me that, “All of our communities are strong but quite isolated in a lot of ways. It’s opened up a dialogue about mental health and started a lot of conversations. Communities have really been able to pull together through this.”

At Orange Sky, we always say that the most important part of what we do isn’t providing clean clothes and warm showers, it’s the six orange chairs we bring to every shift. People can sit down, be part of a non-judgemental conversation and connect. The people we met on our community recovery trip were so grateful for the small gesture of clean uniforms, but they were far more grateful for the chance to share their experiences.

We travelled over 3,000 kilometres. We visited more than 15 communities and washed 50 loads of laundry. I think that the most important part of this trip wasn’t kilometres travelled, loads washed or shifts completed. It was something that can’t be measured with metrics; connection.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

My Experience as an Orange Sky Intern

My time so far as an Orange Sky intern has been one of the most rewarding experiences, both personally and professionally. After hearing about Orange Sky through a family friend, I was immediately intrigued by the organisation and their focus on creating a more inclusive community while supporting those doing it tough. I knew I wanted to get involved with Orange Sky and gain experience in this area – what I didn’t realise at the time is that it would take seven months to come to fruition.

After meeting with Orange Sky’s Chief Operations Officer, Mike Duggan in February, we developed a project and planned for me to start an internship. Unfortunately, like most things in 2020, it was put on hold due to COVID-19. In June, I emailed again with hopes to get things moving, but this time doing it alongside an internship subject for my final semester of my dual Social Science and Political Science degree. With a skill-based volunteering stream project needing to be explored, I began my internship in August (finally!).

Most of my time in the office has consisted of meeting the team and understanding how the organisation operates, working on the project, and continuing with my university research project. While I have learnt so much from my time at Orange Sky, I want to share the five major lessons I will take away from this experience.

1. No two days are the same, so being flexible is vital.
Orange Sky’s environment is certainly vibrant, and every team and employee works on an array of tasks. A revolving door of meetings, reports, presentations and communication with stakeholders creates a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. My methodical approach to uni – where I could plan out the progression of assessment – was turned on its head upon starting. I realise this is not limited to Orange Sky and is common in any job, so learning how to be adaptive but staying on top of tasks is highly beneficial.

2. It’s okay not to know the answer, so long as you know where to go to try and find it.
With many employees saying it took them months to find their feet at the organisation, my 12-week internship became slightly more daunting as it dawned on me that I would need to understand a lot in a short space of time. However, I soon realised the only way to feel comfortable and confident during my internship was to ask questions. I think most people in the office now have seen my head pop up as I start a conversation with “hey, I’ve got a quick question for you!”

3. Nothing, including almost four years of study, compares to real-life experience.
My answer to the question “Do you enjoy your degree?” has always been the same. “I love it, but it lacks real life experience”. My understanding of community development and non-profits stems from literature, theory and whatever teachings my university lecturers thought was necessary for us to know.  However, upon starting my internship with Orange Sky, I soon realised how different theory and practice were, and how important real-life experience in your area of study is. My degree has helped me grow confidence in my researching and communication skills, but after just three weeks at Orange Sky, I already felt like I was building on transferable professional skills that I could use throughout my career.

4. Passion can be discovered.
During my project that focused on volunteering, I was unsure whether I would genuinely enjoy this research topic for the three months. However, after initial meetings with the Operations team and independent research, I quickly became quite passionate about this space. I continually wanted to explore more about how we could create the most positive environment for volunteers to ensure services are delivered to the best of their ability. I feel more confident now that I can find interest in topics I might have otherwise dismissed and make the most of opportunities that come my way.

5. When in doubt, remember the underlying goal of what you are doing.
As I tried to understand what decisions were necessary to make during my project, I quickly adapted the mindset of keeping Orange Sky’s mission, positively connecting communities, as my guiding light.
It’s simple, yet significant (and one that I feel passionate about myself) – so asking myself “How are my decisions contributing to this mission?” helped me when I was in doubt. For any task that might otherwise seem mundane, I found greater meaning and was determined to work hard because I knew it was contributing to something much larger and more meaningful.

For four years, I have learnt from textbooks about community development, about theories and theorists, and models of best practice when it comes to development. Yet for the entirety of my degree, I had no certainty that this space was really for me. This internship has helped me realise it is. Knowing each day that I am supporting an organisation that truly helps people has made these past few weeks the most rewarding of any job or experience I have ever done.

So, my advice for anyone thinking about interning? Do it. Put in the time to find a place that is meaningful to you and soak up the experience every day you are there.  My internship was seven months in the making, but I can wholeheartedly say that every email, call and meeting to make this happen was worth it. Nothing in life worth having comes easy, so you need to work hard for the things that matter to you and make the most of it when it’s yours.

Want to learn more about what it’s like working at Orange Sky? Check out Alice’s reflection on her first month as part of the Volaby team. 

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Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

On shift in Melbourne during stage 4 restrictions

“It’s been challenging for everyone going back into lockdown in Melbourne, but even more so for our friends that we see on shift. Leading up to the lockdown, we were having lots of conversations with friends about what might happen, the uncertainty and where that would leave them with access to services, and the impending social isolation.

Those conversations were particularly important – hearing their concerns, acknowledging them, and staying upbeat and positive, reassuring them that whatever challenges lockdown would present, they would eventually pass and life would return to some version of normal.  Many were agitated and anxious, but listening to them and acknowledging their perspective seemed to give them some comfort.

What we have noticed since stage 4 lockdown is that every week, we get a solid contingent of regulars who come.  For many, we are their only social interaction for the day, or even the week.  They come to ‘shoot the breeze’, have some ‘normal’ conversations and then of course the ‘all encompassing’ conversations about COVID and lockdown  – which is the key topic of conversation in Melbourne at the moment!
They come to get their laundry done. To see us and to see each other. They ask about us as much as we ask about them, and on both sides of the discussion, it is reassuring to hear how others are coping with what life is presenting, and calming to have a listening ear to air the frustrations. It feels like it is more important than ever that we are there every week, greeting them with a warm smile (hard to detect behind a mask!) and a wave! We ask how their week has been and they are eager to engage and share what’s been happening.

Some of our friends have told us they have been moved into hotels – which they have appreciated, but it is not without its challenges. Being around many other vulnerable people in the hotels has affected their anxiety levels, so ‘escaping’ that environment for a different type of social interaction has made our shifts and conversations they offer, a welcome experience.

I really feel a strong connection to the friends we serve on shift at the moment. There is a mutual understanding that we are all going through tougher times than usual, but that the conversations, the chatter and the jokes we share is so important to all of us to give us the strength and courage to get through to the other side – whatever that may look like!

We love seeing them every week, and knowing that they are in good spirits and doing ok. And I think they feel the same about the volunteers and each other!”

Denise has volunteered with Orange Sky in Melbourne for the past year and a half – normally with our shower van, Monty, but during COVID, she’s jumped on a laundry shift at Cleve Gardens on Wednesday evenings. We’re very grateful to have people like Denise as part of the Orange Sky team who not only support our mission to positively connect communities, but have empathy and understanding for our friends doing it tough.

Help us continue to ensure that our friends in Melbourne have a place to connect. 

Donate Now

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

Four years of haircuts and conversations with Epic Hair Designs

Q: What does a hairdresser, a washing machine and a big orange van have in common?
A: You can find all three at Ivory Street in Fortitude Valley on a Friday morning!

For the last four years, Orange Sky’s Friday morning shift has taken place alongside a team of stylists from Epic Hair Designs. This means that as well as having access to clean laundry and warm showers, our friends can also sit down for a haircut. With 15 different salons across Brisbane, the team at Epic Hair Designs know a thing or two about conversation – and they fit right in at an Orange Sky shift!

“Conversation is everything. Our stylists always have such a positive experience connecting with staff, friends and volunteers of Orange Sky. Our staff’s main focus at work is always connecting with our guests and the same goes for when our staff are supporting Orange Sky.

“We see a real difference being made when our hairdressers are able to contribute to positively impacting Brisbane’s homeless.”

Four years of cutting hair on shift at Ivory Street has meant that the team at Epic Hair Designs have a made a difference in the lives of more than 6,000 friends.

A haircut might not seem like much, but it can make the world of difference to how our friends feel about themselves. Walking away from a shift in clean clothes, after the chance to have a shower, a haircut and a conversation, can mean so much to a person who might often miss out on everyday basics and human connection.

As with Orange Sky’s volunteers, Epic Hair Designs acknowledges the special relationships that form between their stylists and our friends on shift.

“Our stylists have such strong relationships with their guests, so being able to make sure our guests continue to be looked after is fantastic. Our teams also have such a strong bond with each other, Epic Hair Designs is a big family so we are grateful our teams are continuing to learn and do what they love.”

In fact, some relationships are so strong that friends will often stop by for a chat, even if they don’t need a haircut. The team told us, “There’s always a bloke who sits down for a haircut every fortnight despite not needing one just to take advantage of a chat – which we think is lovely.”

The Epic Hair Designs team loves that they can make such a difference, doing what they love and supporting Orange Sky and our friends on the street along the way. Although they haven’t been able to get out on shift since the COVID-19 pandemic, they are hoping to be back later this month – watch this space!

You can learn more about Epic Hair Designs here.

If you enjoyed reading about how the Epic Hair Designs team supports Orange Sky, we think you’ll love this story about The Streets Barber in Geelong

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Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

A nine-year-old with a big idea

In October last year, we received an email from a nine-year old boy named Archie. He told us,

“I really want to work with homeless people when I grow up. I only found out about homeless people and why people are homeless this year and it made me really sad. When I go to Adelaide, Mum lets me talk to homeless people near Rundle Mall and sometimes if I have some money, I give them some to buy something to eat. I hope that when I am 18, Orange Sky is still going so I can come and work with you.”

We’re lucky enough to receive a lot of messages from young people – like Archie – who just want to find a way to help. It’s one the best parts of working at a place like Orange Sky where big dreams and crazy ideas come to life.

For Archie, it all started on a trip to Adelaide with his Mum, Jayne.

“Arch noticed a homeless person for the first time. He asked lots of questions [and] we talked about the kinds of things that can lead to people being homeless, such as drug and alcohol abuse, loss of employment, domestic and family violence, mental health, and breakdowns of relationships.

Driving home a few hours later, Archie suddenly burst in to tears. When I asked what was wrong, he responded with ‘I just can’t believe someone’s family would turn their back on them, and they’d have nowhere to go.’

Over the next couple of months, there were often discussions about homeless people and what Arch could do to help. Every time we went to Adelaide, where we often had a treat for lunch, he would ask to forego his lunch, and donate the money instead. I tried to talk him out of this, but over time his logic and determination to help others would win, and he would skip off with $10 in his hand to find a homeless person to help.”

With a passion to support people less fortunate than him, Archie had a big idea.

He wanted to build a free laundromat for people experiencing homelessness, but his vision didn’t stop there – he wanted to offer clean and dry sleeping bags for people to swap out, and employment opportunities for those doing it tough to provide laundry services to the community. Not a bad plan for a nine-year-old!

Like any innovator, Archie knew not to re-invent the wheel, and after hearing about Orange Sky and what we do – he decided that he wanted to come and work for us instead.

“All he wants to do is talk to the people doing it tough, hear their stories and work with them to help make their life better. He was gutted when he found out that you had to be 18 to [volunteer] out with the vans,” Jayne said.

“He wanted us to donate as much money as we could, so we talked about ways he could make money to help out Orange Sky. He decided he would collect bottles and cans (worth 10c per item in South Australia) for recycling, do jobs for people, and ask people to donate their small change.”

When Archie contacted us, he was just about to start an Everyday Hero fundraising page with the goal of raising $1,000 for Orange Sky by his 10th Birthday in May.

Every weekend, he did jobs for others, ranging from gardening, car washing and pool cleaning, right through to picking up dog poo (his least favourite, but highest paying chore). He collected bottles and cans, sorting them and taking them to the recycling depot every couple of weeks, and was humbled when other people began donating their bottles and can takings to his cause.

By his 10th birthday, Archie had raised $1,509.32 for Orange Sky.

To put that in perspective, Archie’s hard work and persistence helped to provide five entire shifts of clean laundry, warm showers and genuine connection for our friends doing it tough.

Jayne said that even though the fundraiser had ended, Archie was still collecting bottles and cans to support Orange Sky and wants to keep raising money until he is old enough to volunteer in eight years time.

“We were blown away by how hard he worked, forgoing many things he would have liked to have purchased with pocket money that was instead given to Orange Sky,” Jayne said.

“We are super proud of him and hope that he never loses the desire to help out people doing it tough.”

Today on International Youth Day, we wanted to celebrate the contribution of young people like Archie in our community.

The theme of International Youth Day 2020, ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’ seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people has a meaningful impact in communities across the world. You can learn more about International Youth Day here.

If Archie’s inspired you to set up your own fundraiser, you can set up your own event page here.

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Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

Conversations Across Cultures

It was a bleak, winter night in Parramatta but we had been having fun with several friends who had warmed themselves with a BBQ dinner, hot showers, freshly cleaned clothes and lively conversation. We had started to get ready to pack up, waiting for one load of clothes to finish its drying cycle. A few friends remained chatting with volunteers but there was one man seated alone on an orange chair. He was quite an old man, well into his seventies I think, and he looked lonely sitting there by himself. I decided to sit down beside him and see if he wanted to chat.

It was pretty obvious from the outset that he spoke little English. He pointed to the van and I understood that his washing was still in the dryer, which was obviously why he was sitting, waiting. Through a combination of a few English words, hand signals and a trusty iphone, I soon learned that he had come from Syria and was staying with relatives while trying to figure out where to live.

He animatedly talked about the dangers of living in Syria and the everyday terror of living in a war torn country. He showed me photos of several of his children who were dotted all over the world. His eyes filled with pride over the beauty of one of his daughters, and the fear was etched on his face when he showed me one of his sons, who must have still been in Syria. It was an extraordinary conversation, made so much more special somehow by the absence of a shared language.

After about 15 minutes, a volunteer who had been helping with tidying up around the van came up and spoke to me and asked if the man spoke Arabic. Of course he did! I’d been struggling to communicate for 15 minutes and here was a young woman who could speak the man’s language!!! I was then able to ask so many more of my questions and find out so much more about his life. He asked us about Orange Sky and what we all did. We all chatted and laughed about nothing and everything.

Another of the volunteers removed the man’s belongings from the dryer and put the still warm clothes carefully into the man’s shopping jeep. The man spoke softly to the volunteer who spoke his language and said, “you people provide a beautiful service”. He pushed his little jeep forward and shook hands with each of us, then waved goodbye as he walked away. It struck me that this interaction typifies the magic of Orange Sky, the basic but respectful act of washing someone’s clothes, engaging with them in simple yet powerful connections, and parting company from them knowing that they, and you, are enriched by the experience.

Help to positively connect some of the 116,000 Australians doing it tough.

Donate Now

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

The silver lining to isolation

As I sit here writing this in my home office after a few months living in this ‘new normal,’ I’ve started thinking about what the silver linings are to all of these new challenges.

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented its fair share of challenges, but I’ve found that changing your perspective during these times can turn a dumping wave into a chance to hang ten and surf through some pretty awesome experiences!

One thing I have come to learn in life is that when we go through change, its inevitably followed by a wave of stress. We learn to adapt and mould with all our new surroundings, but one thing that typically gets missed when trying to keep our head above water is the sudden influx of new and exciting opportunities that come with it. Here are just a few that I’ve encountered…

1. We might be physically distanced, but we're more socially connected than ever.

Having some time on my own, I have begun to think about all the great people in my life who I had wanted to catch up with but had been too ‘busy’ to do so. Whilst being isolated, I have found the perfect opportunity to call these people up to reminisce and get an update of what has been happening in their lives – something I may not have done if hadn’t it been for all this pesky isolation! In fact, one of these calls turned into an online games session (that lasted for hours) and left as all laughing and feeling much more connected.

2. Being alone (sometimes) is the best form of self care

In a world were we are addicted to being busy, doing more and accomplishing more – I have found it super refreshing and highly valuable to take time away from ‘doing things’, and instead spend time listening to my own thoughts, thinking about where my life has been and what I am thinking of next.

Some of these thoughts were more surprising than I expected! Without getting too philosophical, it’s helped me connect with myself a little more, which has (ironically) helped me connect with others around me more authentically – and for that I’m thankful!

3. An appreciation for the little things in life

Once we overcome this pandemic, one thing I know for sure is that isolation will give all of us a much bigger appreciate of a face-to-face connection – something we may have previously taken for granted. I feel the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ will be very much evident when we are released back into the big wide world! A couple of months ago, the idea of having a drink with a friend in the city was neither here nor there. Now, this is something people are yearning for and will no doubt be cherished and truly satisfying when we experience it again.

There is a law of physics that says, ‘energy cannot be created nor destroyed’, instead it just changes and takes shape in different forms. I like to think that this is a pattern in nature, and the same stands true for positive experiences and opportunities – they never go away, they just take different forms and may require us to step back and look at things in a new light to see them again.

Being isolated shouldn’t mean a loss of connection, it just gives us an opportunity to connect differently.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

The Next Generation of Innovators

No fundraising effort is too small. Here at Orange Sky Australia, we see and appreciate every little thing that goes towards growing our community and helping our friends doing it tough.

We recently spoke to Eloise, who manages all of Orange Sky’s incoming messages through our emails, website and social media accounts. From participating in The Sudsy Challenge, gifting Orange Sky merchandise, selling toys to donate the proceeds to Orange Sky or aspiring to be the next Nic and Lucas, Eloise has heard some pretty cool stories.

“It is always a different day when I come in to work and I love that I can speak with many people from different walks of life. The best part about my job is hearing amazing stories from our supporters, and being able to provide support to our friends in need of a wash or shower,” she said.

We asked Eloise for three of her favourite stories of people doing amazing things in support of our friends…


Our friends and volunteers might be physically distanced at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that the connection has stopped. Nine-year-old Sebastian has taken it upon himself to make soap and donate 30 percent of profits to three charities – including Orange Sky. We are blown away by Sebastian’s hard work and dedication to helping others during this tough time.

“My name is Sebastian, I am nine years old and I have been making hand made soap and donating 30 percent to charities. I have chosen three charities, they are Orange Sky, Beyond Blue and Mission Australia. I chose these charities because what they do is amazing.”

Sebastian now has his own website, which you can check out here and buy some soap to support Orange Sky.

Grace & Evie

Grace and Evie spent the day at their Grandma’s work when they were home sick from school. They decided to set up a shop of their own to raise money for Orange Sky, selling office supplies, stationary and stuffed toys.

The girls raised $7.60 and were thrilled to be able to donate it towards our friends doing it tough.

St Rita's College, Clayfield

More than 120 girls from St Rita’s College, Rosa House took part in a belated Sudsy Challenge. Their goal was $1,000 and they absolutely smashed it by raising $3,888 by reaching out to friends, family and the other school houses.

The Sudsy Challenge will be back later this year, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook to find out how you can get involved!

Eloise told us that every dollar donated to Orange Sky was important.

“Each person had their own idea on how to make a difference for both Orange Sky and our friends doing it tough. Every little bit counts and we’re so grateful for any support from the community.”

At Orange Sky, we are constantly inspired by the next (and current!) generation of innovators – their social conscious, creative fundraising ideas and desire to constantly give back the community.

We’re excited to share that you can now host your own online fundraiser to support Orange Sky and ensure that we can keep delivering our service.

Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office

What Reconciliation Means To Me

My name is Judith and I am the Program Manager for Remote and Indigenous Communities at Orange Sky. I’ve worked across remote communities in a range of contexts for a number of years, and have heard many stories and seen firsthand the consequences of past action at an individual, community and government level – but this does not make me an expert.
Reconciliation is important to me because without it, reaching an equitable and harmonious Australia will be less likely. The beauty and strength of our country needs to be reflected for and among all its people, not only some.

For me, reconciliation means acknowledging and doing our bit to right the past. It’s about coming together, getting to know one another and working alongside each other now and into the future.

It’s about keeping equity in the front of our minds at all times, which means sometimes we should preference others voices over our own or step aside to let others come forward.

Reconciliation is important to Orange Sky because we support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across all our services; metro, regional and remote. In remote areas, we work alongside communities and organisations and have a commitment to ensuring our services are appropriate and relevant. One of the most important things for us is taking the time to listen to as many people in a community before setting up a new service.

While Orange Sky’s focus is on providing a space for connection through our laundry and shower services, we are committed to providing employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s important that we work alongside employees to provide a locally appropriate service and help to improve health and well-being outcomes for the community as a way of working towards reconciliation.

During Reconciliation Week and beyond, I encourage you to learn and grow your understanding by reading, reflecting and talking with others, and acting at all times to build an equitable and positive future for all.

At Orange Sky, we’ll continue to provide ways for staff and volunteers to learn, grow and act on reconciliation to help improve outcomes for Australia’s First People.

Here’s some resources we’re diving into:

Learn more about Reconciliation Week

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