Eddie's Story

It's birthday week for Orange Sky Australia and New Zealand so who better to yarn with than, the living legend, Eddie Uini who is the brains, the brawn and the heart of Orange Sky New Zealand. Every time Eddie speaks to the Orange Sky Australia team there is not a dry eye in the house. We hope you enjoy his reflection as much as us.

I first found out about Orange Sky when I was living in an apartment in Melbourne. I had recently moved in with two of my friends and they had similar passions for supporting people that were doing it tough. Without much of a plan, we found ourselves walking around the city at night in with the hope of finding people that we could help in some way.

We met some really cool people on our walk and just as we were about to call it a night we noticed a couple of tents set up under the bridge. We walked over to see if we could say hello and were greeted with open arms.

We had only been chatting a few minutes when they invited us to come along to a regular food service nearby. The first thing I noticed when I got there was a bright orange van. There were two people in front of it with orange shirts on and I had no idea what they were doing. My housemates went inside while I stayed behind to chat with the guys ‘orange shirt people’. They explained how they provide free laundry and it was clear that they had a passion for giving people a place to chill and have a genuine conversation. It was the first time I had seen anything like it really struck a chord with me. As much as I loved the idea of Orange Sky, I ended up volunteering at a night shelter instead…but it wasn’t to be the end of my story with Orange Sky.

I’ve know Nic and Lucas for almost three years now. The best way that I can explain our connection is that we are three opposite sides of a triangle in terms of personality. But, at the center is a common purpose and passion to help positively connect communities.

Nic is the explorer – I’m amazed daily by his constant ideas and creativity. I have no idea how he is able to cram so much activity into a single day.

Lucas is the anchor – he brings everyone who believes in this vision together. I could never thank him enough for all the work he puts in behind the scenes. He provides the security that ensures everyone has the chance to continue our work supporting our friends long into the future.

Me? – Well, I am the passion. My life revolves around supporting people. Orange Sky has provided me with the tools and resources to make this happen. Every day I get the chance to build a positive connection with someone that might be struggling and build a community of volunteers that can make it scale to hundreds and thousands of conversations every day around New Zealand.

I will never forget Hugo’s (our van) first was with our friend Mike in Onehunga. There had been so much work behind the scenes to get Hugo on the road but, in the blink of an eye, we had made an impact on one person’s life. Mike was so excited to wash his clothes, have a shower and, most importantly, have a genuine chat with people that were passionate about scaling this to as many people as possible across New Zealand. Every wash is important but, as I’m sure all our volunteers can attest, you never forget your first wash!

As a team we have accomplished a lot in two years, but, all I can really think about is all of the friends I have made along the way. I now know the impact a wash or shower can have on someone’s day but it’s always been the connections and conversations that have kept me coming back. I’ve shared heart breaks just as often as I have shared victories. Everyone who has thrown washing in one of our machines and sat down for a chat are not just a nameless face. They are genuine friends that I have now come to know and appreciate.

Our growth has been steady and our mission remains the same. I’m sure we are not alone in the challenges that 2020 has brought us and we are learning to adapt and continue to safely provide our service during these difficult times.

There are still too many people in New Zealand that don’t have access to a hot shower or clean clothes. My dream is a New Zealand where everyone that is doing it tough and has access to a washing machine or shower in the form of a bright orange van.

I am proud of the efforts of Orange Sky New Zealand and know that we will continue to adapt our service to fit the needs of our Kiwis doing it tough. Sometimes I get emails from people in random countries around the world asking about this crazy idea. It is obvious we have something important to offer and I can’t wait to see where we can end up!

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How do I continue connection and stay healthy during this time?

Natalie is the HR Officer at Orange Sky HQ. She loves home decorating, op-shopping and vintage inspired fashion, gazing longingly at shoes, being in or near the water and spending time with her family.

Each night, I snuggle up in bed with my seven-year-old and we talk about our day. Usually our talks are filled with tales of adventures of school ground mischief, occasional disagreements with our sibling and ping pong games.

However, since COVID-19 first hit Australian shores in January 2020, our world has slowly been shrinking. Our trips to beaches, playgrounds and to visit grandparents have dwindled down. In place of sleepovers, we have Facetime calls. Instead of playgrounds, we build cubby houses out of blankets. Instead of bike rides, we jump on the trampoline in our backyard.

So here we are after more than a month of isolation and I’m preparing myself for our usual nightly conversation. As the days have started to blur, I decided to not just to ‘summarise’ our days and what we liked the best, but rather to shift our conversation to what we are most thankful for.  

I thought I would share with you all what I am most grateful for at the moment.

More time

Since mid-March, Orange Sky has asked all employees who are able to work remotely to do so.  It might not be much, but skipping the commute has given me extra minutes every day; minutes I can spend on my own family, on myself or getting that final thing done for my Orange Sky family.

My husband and I, in that first week where we were both found ourselves at home but still sending the kids to school and daycare, got to have the first walk by ourselves in SEVEN YEARS! We walked every day that first week and actually got to have a conversation that was not interrupted by children saying “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me!”  Yes we spoke about the kids (a lot), but we also planned out future travels, our career paths, our hopes and also our fears. Even speaking about the scary, unknown times ahead made everything feel just that little bit better. As the old saying goes – a problem shared is a problem halved.  For that I am grateful.

My health

On March 26, I woke up with a sore throat. I was terrified. Could I seriously have contracted this virus so quickly?  We immediately pulled the kids out of school and daycare.

Never have we ALL been more aware of our breathing.  Even my husband, who is normally super calm, has said to me, “Every once and a while I will sit there and just ‘check’ that I can take a deep breath.”  Now, I am a bit of a hypochondriac at the best of times, but I am thankfully my slight cold-like symptoms resolved within 48 hours after resuming my hayfever tablets.

Our Home

Small business owners have resurrected their previously-failed fruit, vegetable and eggs delivery service, local butchers are delivering meat packs and cafes and restaurants have switched to takeaway. Even our local family-owned IGA is available to us within walking distance through a secluded shaded pathway, so for weeks we can get away without leaving our house and yet still have an abundance of high quality food… for this I am very thankful.

My Connections

Now, more than ever, I am also grateful for the connections in my life.

Grandparents who Facetime daily to read stories to my kids, my sister-in-law who bought us extra nappies when the shelves were literally being stripped bare, our neighbours – who we now catch up on our afternoon walks from across the street, and my personal trainer – who has shifted her bootcamps to online sessions five days a week (I’ve literally never been so sore in my life!). 

I am so thankful to have a strong network of people in my life who look out for me and give my life meaning.

But what about the people that don’t have these things?

All in all, this crisis has made me intensely aware of my privilege in having a safe place to hunker down, a roof over my head, good food, clean clothes and access clean, running water to wash my hands whenever I need to.

Our friends on the street who rely on Orange Sky’s services don’t have a lot of these things.

This pandemic marks the first time in the five years since Orange Sky was founded that our service was paused and we were unable to provide our friends with free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

But thankfully not for long.

As we rejigged our safety procedures and found new ways to deliver our service whilst keeping everybody safe, we’re now more committed than ever to our mission to positively connect communities.  

The fact is though that I’m not on that front line delivering these services. Given that my own medical history and those of my children put us in the ‘high risk’ bucket, what – when trying to socially distance and halt the spread of COVID-19 – can I actually do?

I can help to #continueconnection by starting conversations with people in my community and spreading awareness about the work of Orange Sky.

I can also donate. As I sit here safe in my home, I can pledge to donate to Orange Sky’s efforts for as long as I have the ability to do so. Along with all the other things I am thankful for, I still have a job and an income and I can use this to help keep our vans running.

We are one community experiencing the impact of COVID-19 together – and we need your support to help us #continueconnection


As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect families, communities and countries around the world, Orange Sky has been monitoring how best to support the health, safety and well being of our friends, volunteers, supporters and staff.

Orange Sky has a strong and embedded health and safety culture, and we will do all we can to avoid risks that could negatively impact the people in our community. We are currently implementing a measured approach to support as many of our shifts to stay in operation as we can. We will notify of any changes to shifts as required and provide as frequent updates as possible through our channels.

Important information:

1. Orange Sky Headquarters closure:

As COVID-19 continues to challenge our communities, Orange Sky’s leadership team has made the decision to close high risk environments such as HQ for the next 14 days, requesting staff to work from home until Monday, 30 March. We will update our community if any of this information changes.

2. Orange Sky shift delivery:


If you are a volunteer, we’d encourage you to work with your local teams to assess your shift situation and determine the level of risk for your attendance.

Service providers:

If you are a service provider, please communicate any changes to your service provision or environment that may have consequences for us partnering with you at your location by completing this form

Friends accessing our services:

If you are looking to access our services real time information will be available via our website as to whether services have been cancelled . You can find this at orangesky.org.au/locations

3. Recommended source of information:

For further, specific information on COVID-19 please visit the Australian Government Health website or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

A special shout out to our friends doing it tough, who might have limited access to services during this difficult time. Stay safe everyone, and please take care of yourselves and each other.

Many thanks,
Orange Sky Australia


Orange Sky, along with our communities, operates in a world that continues to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but what remains the same is our commitment to innovating and supporting our friends on the street.

Our mission to positively connect communities is as important as ever right now; we remain focused on ensuring we can deliver our service to friends and volunteers in safe environments.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions, and should you require any further information, you can get in touch with our team on the details listed below.

Using our Service and Shift Information

For the most up-to-date information on whether shifts are operating, please visit the Find a Shift page. The ‘latest updates’ below also provide the most recent COVID-19 information for our services across Australia.

Orange Sky has put in place a COVID-19 Risk Management Framework and local management plans in line with public health measures issued by state health authorities, the Department of Health and Safe Work Australia to create the safest environment possible with the changing circumstances. The safety measures within this plan are outlined below. We ask for all individuals who attend shift to adhere to the health authorities advice.

To keep our community safe, we would appreciate it if you don’t utilise the service whilst experiencing any cold and/or flu like symptoms. We understand this is a hard time for many. Doing what we can to minimise the spread of the virus will ensure that our orange vans can continue to show up each week to deliver free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

It is currently not a requirement to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend an Orange Sky shift and access our services. However, we encourage our community to follow the government health advice. During times of increased risks from COVID-19, some services may require volunteers to be vaccinated to be on shift.

Regardless of where in Australia you live, if you’re experiencing homelessness, support is available. Homelessness Australia has pulled together a list of relevant resources for every state and territory.

Another resource is Ask Izzy, a free, anonymous website that connects people in need to everything from housing, a meal, financial help, domestic violence support, counselling and more, with more than 350,000 services around the country. If you’re on the Telstra or Vodafone mobile networks, you can access Ask Izzy on your phone even if you don’t have credit or access to wifi. You can also now use any public telephone in Australia which is free. 

You can also visit the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service provided by Beyond Blue for information and advice about managing your mental health or find a health professional to speak to.

Service Partners and Operations

The best place for the most up-to-date information on whether shifts are operating is via the FIND A SHIFT page. The ‘latest updates’ below also provides the most recent COVID-19 information for our services across Australia.

Keeping the community safe is one of Orange Sky’s highest priorities and we take this seriously as an organisation. We have created a COVID-19 Risk Management Framework and local management plans consisting of multiple controls to support keeping the community safe. While several of these will be in place for the foreseeable future, other control measures are activated based on the current risk levels based on the state and territory. 

The controls consist of the following: 

    1. Recommendations to stay up to date with your vaccinations and continue to follow the advice from health authorities.
    2. Social distancing (1.5m) and encouraging others to do so as well.
    3. Masks are available on shifts and must be worn at all times when mandated by the relevant state authority. 
    4. If volunteers are sick, they must not attend shift.
    5. Hand hygiene is promoted throughout the shift including washing hands regularly with soap and water and/or using the hand sanitiser on shift.
    6. Increased cleaning during and at the end of shift including touchpoints, orange chairs, tables, door handles, washing baskets etc.
    7. The use of PPE including disposable gloves, masks, and safety glasses.
    8. Instructional safety posters and signage visible on shift including our ‘standards of procedure’ 
    9. A cordon designed to help control the flow of people to ensure we can continue to socially distance safely.
    10. Vaccinations mandated in ‘Level 3’ service locations

We are continuously monitoring the situation and will communicate any further changes in our operations promptly. 


Our team works as quickly and transparently as possible with localised teams as soon as new information around COVID-19 requirements, restrictions and lockdowns  become available. Where possible, we work hard to ensure that shifts keep operating to ensure we can support our friends.

The Orange Sky operations team communicates with local leadership teams, team leaders and service providers, who will then communicate to all volunteers via your pre-determined WhatsApp group chat as soon as possible about whether a shift will be operating.

To find out the current classification for your shift, please visit the Orange Sky Portal (under the COVID-19 category) for an up-to-date list. Please note: it is possible for services to move up and down levels, depending on our current risk assessment at the time.

After extensive consultation with our volunteer community, we have reviewed and updated our COVID-19 Risk Management Framework to consider how and when vaccinations may be mandated across each of our service locations. From the 1st October 2021, a new decision-making matrix was implemented to determine the course of action for each service and/or state and territory. Vaccinations are not currently mandated, however they could be in the future to ensure that we can support our volunteers to deliver our services to friends in the safest possible environments should the risk levels rise, or state governments mandate vaccinations again.

Due to the ongoing risks COVID-19 continues to present in our communities, Orange Sky may choose to prioritise volunteers that are up to date with their vaccinations during times of heightened risk of COVID-19 or as required by government guidelines.

As part of the Orange Sky volunteer onboarding process, you will need to declare if you are up to date with your vaccinations, however, you do not need to provide evidence of vaccination. If you would prefer not to disclose if you are up to date with your vaccinations, simply select ‘no’ when signing up to be an Orange Sky volunteer. Selecting no will not affect your application process, and will not affect your ability to volunteer with Orange Sky, except during times of heightened risk of COVID-19 or as required by government guidelines, where confirmed vaccinated volunteers could be prioritised.

Orange Sky has a responsibility to provide a safe shift environment for friends, volunteers and service provider partners. Declaring if you are up to date with your vaccinations will help us to navigate possible impacts to our shifts in the event of future COVID-19 outbreaks, or new regulations that may be required by State Governments.
By understanding the rates of vaccination within our volunteer community, we can make informed decisions when reviewing risk management policies and processes; as well as being able to easily prioritise vaccinated volunteers on shift if required. By declaring if you are up to date with your vaccinations you will be helping to keep our vans on the road, providing meaningful connection and services to our friends.

Orange Sky volunteer leaders and Orange Sky HQ will be able to see your vaccination declaration response on your profile. However, your status will not affect your ability to volunteer with Orange Sky, except during times of heightened risk of COVID-19 or as required by government guidelines, where volunteers who are up to date with their vaccinations could be prioritised.

Level 2 services – these locations are under review with volunteers and service providers to ascertain how we can re-mobilise shifts in the safest way possible. Currently vaccinations are not mandated in these locations, but are recommended to keep yourselves and the community safe. Vaccinated volunteers in these locations will be prioritised on shift.

Level 3 servicesYes, volunteers need to be fully vaccinated on shifts operating at Level 3.

Your vaccination declaration will not affect your ability to volunteer with Orange Sky, except during times of heightened risk of COVID-19 or as required by government guidelines, where confirmed vaccinated volunteers could be prioritised.

If you are volunteering in a Level 3 location, unfortunately, you will not be able to volunteer with Orange Sky during this time. There is the possibility that a service can get downgraded to Level 2 or Level 1 in the future based on our COVID-19 Risk Management Framework, at which point you may be able to join a shift again. 

Service Leaders and Service Coordinators will see which volunteers have completed the COVID-19 Vaccination Declaration. Utilising this information, they will attempt to fill each shift by rostering volunteers who have confirmed their vaccination declaration in the first instance. Prioritising vaccinated volunteers ensures that we can support teams to deliver our service to friends in the safest possible environments.

If you’re feeling unwell, please make sure you stay home and get tested. Please notify your Team Leader as soon as possible if you are unable to attend a shift. 

If your vaccination declaration has changed since you signed up with Orange Sky, you can email us at volunteer@orangesky.org.au with your details and we can update your vaccination declaration in Volaby.

Orange Sky offers a VESP program to all volunteers which provides a free and confidential mental health support service. The program is designed to help you overcome any issues impacting your mental wellbeing related to your time and experience volunteering with Orange Sky. The program allows volunteers to access up to three support sessions per year. You can book a free session via the Portal.

If you have any further questions, please contact Orange Sky via the following: 

General enquiries: (07) 3067 5800

Volunteer enquiries: volunteer@orangesky.org.au 

Friends accessing our services

To find out if there is a shift near you or access the most up to date information, click the ‘find a shift’ button below or at the top of the page.

Find A Shift

Service providers

If you are a service provider, please keep us updated with any changes to your service provision or environment that may have consequences for us partnering with you at your location in the future.

Contact Us

Latest Updates

In response to surging COVID-19 cases across the country, and to ensure the safety of our volunteers, friends and service providers, all services previously at ‘Level 1’ are now being classified as ‘Level 2’ in line with our COVID-19 management plan.

Please read carefully the information about Level 2 and the ‘Amber’ COVID-19 control measures, which are in place effective immediately.

  1. Face masks (surgical or N95) are mandatory
  2. Vaccinated volunteers will be prioritised*
  3. Cordons (sq meter rule) to be used on shift
  4. Limited physical contact (social distance where possible)
  5. The use of PPE (safety goggles for Hybrid/Shower Vans)
  6. Signs with COVID-19 information to be displayed on shift
  7. Pre-start huddle 5 minutes before your shift to cover shift safety and ensure correct set up.
  8. Increased local comms from HQ

*If you are an unvaccinated rostered volunteer, you will continue to be rostered as per normal. Vaccinated volunteers will be prioritised for new shifts and as additional volunteers are needed for existing shifts.

Our Operations Team at HQ will continue to be in contact with a member of your local leadership team to provide further information and ensure the supply of any essential items.

If you have questions, please visit our COVID FAQs (above) before reaching out to your Team Leader.

The Northern Territory Government has announced that from 12:01am today (November 05, 2021), Katherine (including Tindal) will enter a three-day hard lockdown, with the Greater Darwin area going into a three-day ‘lockout’ after the Northern Territory recorded its first community transmitted COVID-19 case.

The three-day Katherine lockdown and Greater Darwin lockout is due to lift at midnight on Sunday November 7, 2021.

To find out more about the Katherine and Greater Darwin snap lockdown and lockout, including exposure sites, please click here.

How the Greater Darwin lockout impacts Orange Sky services:

As Orange Sky volunteers are classified as ‘essential workers’, shifts in the Greater Darwin region will continue to operate.

In line with the Orange Sky Covid-19 Risk Management Framework, the Darwin Orange Sky shifts have been upgraded to ‘Amber’ controls, however the region will continue to remain as a level 1 rating (visit FAQ 2 for more information on classification levels).

The Orange Sky team are working closely with Darwin volunteers to ensure all ‘Amber’ level control measures are accessible and implemented.

The safety of our volunteers and friends is our biggest priority. We will be reviewing Darwin closely to ensure our teams feel safe and supported in delivering services during this time.

Please keep up to date with all of our latest updates via the FAQs above, or feel free to get in contact with our team via volunteer@orangesky.org.au.

Update on Relaxing Restrictions in NSW

The New South Wales Government has announced updates on relaxing restrictions. From 11 October, stay at home orders have been lifted across the state and Local Government Areas of concern no longer exist. All new rules and restrictions are categorised based on whether an individual is fully vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. A fully vaccinated person is someone who has received 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccination or has a medical exemption.

Orange Sky volunteers are no longer required to register their travel to and from shift and can travel anywhere in New South Wales to volunteer. Driver training can now resume for NSW services, as carpooling is now allowed for fully vaccinated people and for those who are not fully vaccinated when using a vehicle for work purposes.

While restrictions across the state are easing, under Orange Sky’s COVID-19 Risk Management Framework Sydney Services are still classified as Level 3, with other services in the state remaining in the Level 2 category. For more information on Orange Sky’s COVID-19 response and risk management, click here to access our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

Click here to access the updated COVID-19 rules for fully vaccinated people in New South Wales and click here to access information on the current regulations for those who are not fully vaccinated.

Update for our Tasmanian Community

The Tasmanian Government has introduced a 3 day lockdown of southern Tasmania effective from 6pm tonight, 15 October 2021. The Local Government Areas impacted include Brighton, Central Highlands, Clarence City, Derwent Valley, Glamorgan-Spring Bay, Hobart City, Huon Valley, Sorell, Southern Midlands, Tasman and Kingborough.

It has also been mandated that anyone over the age of 12 must wear a face mask when they leave their home.

Orange Sky remains an essential service, and as long as our service provider partners remain open or we are in a location where it is safe to operate without a service provider, we will continue to operate our shifts with the approved COVID-19 safety controls in place to support our friends, and keep our community safe.

If you have any further questions, please get in touch via our contact us page.

Update for Victorian Services

The Victorian Government has announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be made mandatory for all workers on the authorised worker list in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

From 15 October 2021, in order to attend an Orange Sky shift, you must be able to provide evidence that you have:

  1. Received at least your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or
  2. Have a booking to receive your first dose by 22 October 2021, or
  3. Have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner.

This means that from 22 October 2021 onwards, you need to have received at least your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (unless you have a medical exemption) to attend shift. From 26 November 2021, the Victorian Government requires you to provide evidence to Orange Sky that you have received your second dose (unless you have a medical exemption) to attend shift.

Orange Sky is working to consult with our Victorian volunteers to implement the appropriate processes to support this mandate. Please keep up to date with all of our latest updates via the FAQ’s above, or feel free to get in with our team via volunteer@orangesky.org.au

After extensive consultation with our volunteer community over the past few months, we have reviewed and updated our COVID-19 Risk Management Framework to consider how and when vaccinations may be mandated across each of our service locations. From the 1st of October 2021, a newly created decision-making matrix will be implemented to determine the course of action for each service and/or state and territory. Vaccinations will now be mandated in ‘Level 3’ locations to ensure we can support our volunteers to deliver our service to friends in the safest possible environments.

Currently, only Sydney is categorised as ‘Level 3’ and all other service locations will continue to be monitored and assessed in conjunction with regular consultation with Service Providers and Service Leaders.

Further communications will be delivered to each of the Team Leaders and Service Leaders and please refer to the above Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

The NSW Government implemented two new rules that will/have come into affect in Sydney.

  1. From 12.01am on Saturday 28 August 2021 if you are living in or entering a local government area of concern to attend a shift you will need to register your travel. This registration is valid for a maximum of 14 days before people will need to apply.
  2. From Monday 6th September 2021, NSW Health has also announced changes in requirements for vaccination of authorised workers (Orange Sky volunteers are classified as authorised workers). If they are attending a shift in an LGA of concern, or are departing from an LGA of concern, they must now have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Although lockdowns across the country continue to impact our services, we were able to provide our friends with 600 loads of washing and 115 showers across 140 shifts over the past week. Due to tougher restrictions in a number of locations, we currently have more than 50 shifts paused across our services in Sydney, Central Coast, Wollongong, Port Macquarie, Northern Rivers, Melbourne and Canberra.

We are an essential service and can continue to operate, but we need to adapt and monitor the shift environment, volunteer voice and potential impact for our friends. We are continuing to monitor all health advice and ensure our COVID safe controls and procedures reflect the most up to date information.

We continue to monitor outbreaks in service locations across NSW, Victoria and Queensland and meet with local volunteer leaders on a regular basis. From time to time we may pause shifts or change locations to ensure shifts are able to run safely and friends can continue to access our services. We will continue to update this ‘Covid-19 updates’ page and where feasible provide as much notice as possible if there are any impacts to our services across the country. Orange Sky is classified as an essential service and will continue to endeavour to deliver as many shifts as possible.

Under the latest restrictions, volunteers who attend shift and live in the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA are required to have a COVID-19 test every 3 days. If you live in this area and are currently rostered onto shift, we ask you to get tested every 72 hours and send results to volunteer@orangesky.org.au. A screen shot or photo of the results is all that needs to be sent. You do not need to get the results of your test before going on shift. You do not need to isolate while waiting for the results, as long as you have been tested you are fine to attend.

The QLD Government has introduced a 4 day lockdown effective from 4pm tonight, 31 July 2021. Orange Sky remains an essential service, and as such as long as our service provider partners remain open or we are in a location where it is safe to operate without a service provider, we will continue to operate all of our shifts across the impacted areas with the approved COVID-19 safety controls in place to support our friends. If you have any further questions on this, please get in touch via our contact us page.

After ongoing discussions with our local leadership teams, Orange Sky has made the decision to trial a number of shifts in Wollongong and the Central Coast this week. For the moment, shifts across Sydney will remain paused. This decision was made in line with government advice and recommendations; it is important that we take a measured and safe approach in returning to shifts. Orange Sky remains an essential service, and although we want to be back out there supporting friends, our number one priority remains the safety of our community. If you have any further questions on this, please get in touch via our contact us page.

Following the news today from the NSW Government and NSW Health on tightened COVID-19 restrictions across Greater Sydney including Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour we have made the difficult decision to pause all shifts from today across the above regions until next Friday, 16 July 2021, unless notified otherwise. This will allow us the time to ensure that we can support shifts operating in as safe environment as possible for our friends, volunteers and the greater community. You can read about the key principles that guide our decision making at the top of this page. If you have any further questions on this please get in touch via our contact us page here.

Keeping the community safe is one of Orange Sky’s highest priorities and we take this really seriously as an organisation. Throughout COVID-19 multi-layered controls (cordons, social distancing etc) have been put in place to support keeping the community safe. Some of these controls remain and some have changed depending on the current state of the community and restrictions. We regularly monitor and review to determine whether these controls suffice according to the latest advice from health regulators. The COVID-19 vaccination is another new control that is now available to the public at no cost. The vaccine will help to contribute to the safety of our volunteers, friends, staff and wider community. Our recommendation continues to be to listen to the public health authority advice and make informed decisions on how best to proceed. If you have any further questions on this please get in touch via our contact us page here.

Ways to Support

Donate funds to help Orange Sky continue to deliver our mission and support our friends doing it tough.

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Media Enquiries

Get in touch with our team via the link below.

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March 2020 Safety

Flu season can be a particularly hard time of the year for our friends. While we continue to offer free laundry, warm showers and great conversation out on shift, we wanted to take the opportunity to keep you informed with recommended preventions you can take to protect yourself this flu season.

These suggestions are useful to help limit the spread of germs found in the common cold, flu and widely publicised Covid-19 (Coronavirus) currently in the headlines. We don’t want to create alarm, rather we want to ensure that you – our volunteers – are kept informed and can make sensible decisions around your health this flu season.

While we intend for our services to continue operating, if you do feel sick please stay at home and inform your Team Leader. Resting up and consulting your GP is advised.

Tips to help limit the spread of germs

• Remember to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior to commencing work or volunteering, after sneezing and coughing, going to the bathroom, or after touching objects that may have been in contact with people exhibiting flu-like symptoms;

• Use hand sanitiser available on shift;

• Wear gloves while on shift and handling any washing or cleaning items.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick;

• If you feel sick, please stay at home, rest up and visit your GP;

• Know the signs of a flu – fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath; and
Be mindful of physical contact with people displaying flu-like symptoms – consider replacing handshakes with the Orange Sky approved fist bump!

• If you have been in, departed from, or transited through mainland China, Iran or South Korea in the last 14 days, you should:
Self isolate yourself from others for 14 days from the day you departed China, Iran or South Korea. Feel free to roster yourself back on shift at the conclusion of your 14-day self-isolation period; and
Monitor yourself for symptoms.

For further, specific information on Coronavirus, please read through the link from the Australian Government Health Department website. You can also contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for any other guidance as well. https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

Stay safe this flu season, please do not panic, look out for yourselves and each other and if you have any questions, please contact your Service or Team Leader or Service Support on 0488851113 for guidance and advice.

International Women's Day at Orange Sky

Our first ever staff member at Orange Sky was a web developer. We knew back then that technology would be key to helping us expand – and we couldn’t survive today without the programs our tech team has built.

This International Women’s Day (IWD), we are highlighting three super talented and diverse women who are writing their own #girlsintech narrative through their passion for helping others.

One of the missions of IWD is about celebrating women in tech and championing those who are ‘forging innovation through technology’.

Kaira, Bandita and Alice are part of the Volaby team at Orange Sky. They all bring different backgrounds and skill sets with them, but share the same goal – improved outcomes for our friends.

Kaira Wong

1. What is your role in the Volaby team
I am the UI/UX Designer in Volaby’s product team.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I spend my days gathering research, hunting for bugs on existing features and designing exciting new additions to expand Volaby’s offerings.

3. What excites you about being in not-for profit (NFP) tech?
The NFP industry is one that has faced many challenges in being able to find technology that truly understands its needs, and has often had to adapt its way of operations to fit the mould of commercial platforms.

Just as people need to wear shoes that fit well to walk comfortably, each sector also needs technology attuned to their needs and wants – and being a part of this journey to create technology tailored to the NFP industry is a huge source of excitement and motivation for me.

Bandita Sharma

1. What is your role in the Volaby team
I am a front end developer.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I am responsible for implementing the visual elements of Volaby. Although I am known for my love for detail and pixel perfection, I also love to learn everything web-related to stay relevant to the ever-changing tech landscape.

3. What excites you about being in a NFP tech?
My interest in combining technical skills with social good and social impact comes from my background in social work and software development. Technology and digital transformation comes with the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe in harnessing the good of technology to empower communities and tackle some of the challenges of the NFP sector. I am committed to bringing about change in the NPF sector… one line of code at a time.

Bandita Sharma

1. What is your role in the Volaby team?
I am a front end developer

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I am responsible for implementing the visual elements of Volaby. Although I am known for my love for detail and pixel perfection, I also love to learn everything web-related to stay relevant to the ever-changing tech landscape.

3. What excites you about being in NFP tech?
My interest in combining technical skills with social good and social impact comes from my background in social work and software development. Technology and digital transformation comes with the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe in harnessing the good of technology to empower communities and tackle some of the challenges of NFP sector. I am committed to bring about the change NFP sector needs one line of code at a time.

Alice Spies

1. What is your role in the Volaby team?
I am the Customer Success Coordinator.

2. What does a typical day look like for you?
I liaise with our current partners of Volaby to ensure that everything is running smoothly, but also to on-board their volunteers successfully. This is a dream role for me, as it combines a lot of different experiences I have had over the years and piles it into a job in which I wear a lot of different hats (and love it!).

3. What excites you about being in NFP tech?
NFP tech is so different to anything I have ever worked in before – from the founder stories of our partners to the vision and dream of their missions. But it doesn’t stop there – the amazing people that make the vision and mission possible are the volunteers.

Being a volunteer is a commitment of time and character, and finding a way to recognise and reward those volunteers can be a struggle for our partners. Enabling this through technology is incredibly powerful and the most rewarding part of my job.

Kaira, Bandita and Alice are just three of the incredible women at Orange Sky who are making a difference every day. We’re grateful for all the women in our community who help make Orange Sky a place where everyone feels connected, included and genuinely welcome.

Help us support the 116,000 Australians who are doing it tough.

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Providing Connection These Holidays

As we get close to the summer holidays, many people are wrapping up at work and looking forward to some well earned time off and connection with close friends and family.
At Orange Sky, our main aim at this time is to operate as consistently as possible so our friends know that the free laundry and showers and, even more importantly, a friendly yarn will be there. Nic and I both know that services can drop off over the holidays, and our friends can feel even more isolated and disconnected from the community than throughout the year.
When we first started Orange Sky, it was just Nic, myself and a few friends and family members supporting the operation. We didn’t really even think of it as volunteering – it was just about getting out to do something we thought would help people doing it tough.
We now understand the power of volunteering and the dual role it plays in not only helping our friends on the street, but also the volunteers themselves. We have heard so many amazing stories from our volunteers that highlight the well-being, as well as sense of belonging, that volunteering provides them.

[vc_headings style="theme2" linewidth="500" borderwidth="1" borderclr="#000000" title="Key Statistics" titlesize="30" titleclr="#000000"][/vc_headings]

In 2010, 36.2% of people aged 18+ (6.1 million) had volunteered. 

In 2010, formal volunteering (excluding travel) was worth $25.4 billion to the Australian economy.

96% of volunteers say that it “makes people happier.”

Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health.

Over the last few months, I have come to know one of our friends, Ros, really well. I have had many conversations with her about her life and how she came to use the Orange Sky service. She is an amazing women that has been regularly coming to Orange Sky shifts for over three years. She now provides support for fellow friends through a simple thing like a conversation. I think she really embodies our mission to Positively Connect Communities.
I would encourage you to listen to her story and please consider whether you may be able to support our friends like Ros these holidays.
Any support you can give would assist us in offering a reliable service that provides our friends with a place to feel welcome over the holidays.

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I want to wish all of our supporters a safe and happy holiday period and an amazing new year ahead.
A special shout out to everyone that contributes to keeping our vans on the road – we are continually blown away by the passion of our volunteers and their willingness to give up time to support our friends. Also to our incredible donors, who believe in our mission and help keep our washers spinning and showers flowing. If you’d like to make a donation and support our friends these holidays, please click on the button below.
Thank you so much for your support.
– Lucas

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Joe's Story

Hey, my name is Joe and I’m the team leader for the Orange Sky free laundry service at Musgrave Park. I’ve been doing some type of volunteering with Orange Sky since 2015, so coming up to four years now. I love it.
I find that since I finished university and starting work full time, I can get a pretty narrow focus on work and life. Coming out on shift with our friends and having genuine conversations with people that have a different life experience helps me after a busy day to get a bit of perspective. I go home feeling a bit lighter, feeling like I can sort of check in with my life and my place in the world and it just puts me in a better mood I think. That’s what keeps me coming back. 
Before starting to volunteer with Orange Sky, I had a pretty stereotypical view of people experiencing homelessness. I would see the people on the side of the street begging for money or people who looked like they’re down on their luck, and that was the extent of my exposure to the issue. Coming out on an Orange Sky shift, you learn that everyone who comes to shift is very easy to chat to and there’s plenty of characters. Hearing their stories always highlights to me that most of our friends are really just one or two bad breaks removed from my own experience. They have made me see everyone, no matter how they appear at face value, as real people and part of the community just like anyone else. 

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In 2010, 36.2% of people aged 18+ (6.1 million) had volunteered. 

In 2010, formal volunteering (excluding travel) was worth $25.4 billion to the Australian economy.

96% of volunteers say that it “makes people happier.”

Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health.

I first met Ros at Musgrave Park on this shift. She was probably one of the first washes we did and has been a constant presence ever since. She’s a real connector on shift between volunteers and friends. She knows everyone, checks in with everyone and helps build this sense of connectivity and empathy for everyone. I think she’s someone who really brings everyone together and creates a big sense of that community. She knows everyone by name and has a specific little question for everyone to make them feel welcome. I think she really fosters that sense of community that we have going here now. She’s a big part of getting that going and a reason why people come back.
I don’t necessarily have any idea of what our friends have been through to get to this point, but I know that Christmas can be a difficult time. Personally, I really look forward to catching up with my family and people I haven’t seen in a while. It reminds you that you’re part of a bigger group of people who all care about each other and a lot of our friends on shifts don’t have those connections. They don’t always have people around them they can go and be with over the holiday period. I think that could make someone feel pretty lonely, and I’d like to think that the sense of community that friends like Ros help create goes some of the way to filling that void. Everyone can be there for each other and say g’day and catch up. We’ll try and operate right through the holidays so we can maintain those connections and be there for our friends.

Coming out around the Christmas period is always a highlight of my year. I came out last year and just felt like I was part of Orange Sky’s mission to be a consistent presence for our friends. It’s a good feeling to be able to come out with the team at a time like Christmas to show our friends we really are committed and it’s no skin off our back. I mean it’s a couple of hours a week or fortnight and I think it is much more powerful to be consistent and reliable then just come when you can. It’s good that Orange Sky works hard to operate right the way through and it really helps strengthen how genuine the community is.

I get a lot out of it for myself, to be honest. To come and spend time with our community down here was a great way to finish Christmas for me. I got a lot out of it to come and say Merry Christmas to everyone and put a smile on all their faces and it puts a smile on my face. I wouldn’t keep doing it if I didn’t get a lot out of it. I think something that the volunteers and supporters can take comfort in is that you’re getting out what you put in. If you come along and get involved, you really do create genuine connections and it’s no longer just an obligation to turn up to a shift. You want to go and catch up with friends like Ros and I think just knowing that you provide a bit to them makes you feel good for coming.

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Ros' Story

In 2013, I became homeless. Before this I was very secure with two children who were both about to finish school. Then when the marriage broke up and I was the odd one out. That was really hard because the children and I had been really close. We had to be close in the household, and so it was really hard to not be there for important things. My daughter was in grade 12, so she was just finishing school. My son was at university. Then my daughter got married, and I wasn’t really part of her preparation, which as a mother, I should be.
Sometimes you need to separate yourself to find out who you are. I guess I had to go through that as well.
It was really hard, because to work out who I was I needed to get rid of all the negative influences over my life. I was growing differently and I wasn’t conforming to what people thought I was. So, a lot of people close to me thought I should be crazy because I was coming out of a bit of a mess.
My son became engaged and he was married in December 2013. I wasn’t a part of it. I wasn’t even invited to the wedding, so it was a real separation. It was heartbreaking because these things are only a one-off opportunity.

[vc_headings style=”theme2″ linewidth=”500″ borderwidth=”1″ borderclr=”#000000″ title=”Key Statistics” titlesize=”30″ titleclr=”#000000″][/vc_headings]

One in seven homeless Australians are 55 years or older

A third of people over 55 are living on less than $400 a week

Between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of older people who were homeless increased. 

Older people living in severely crowded dwellings increased to 44 per cent in 2016, from 35 per cent in 2001.

I guess I knew it had to happen and I had some good positive people around me at that stage. I used to have a conversation with a friend every evening. This evening, I phoned him and he told me his news for the day. I said, “Now,have you finished?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “I just came home and the house is empty. I can’t get in and I wasn’t sure what would happen next.”
My first step to finding a place to stay was a room in Sunnybank and the bedroom was 10 meters from a six lane highway that sounded like planes taking off every few minutes. So I didn’t sleep for a little while.
I did have a roof over my head for a while. One time I stayed at the back of a shop, but I was inside the shop, not outside. And then, I used to hitch every weekend up to Hervey Bay to see my mother who was in aged care up there. She’d been shifted from Beaudesert so I would sleep out up there on the TAFE college veranda, in a park or even in the facility grounds.
It was very isolating. I have two sisters, but I didn’t see them. So it wasn’t just my children I lost. It was my siblings as well. I guess further than that was the cousins. Then in 2015, mum died and that made a big impact on my life. One more connection gone, and a feeling of loss to deal with. This was when I realised that I needed to find a connection with other people, other people that were by themselves.

After this I realised I needed to find places in Brisbane where I felt safe at night. In Brisbane, there are people around, so you’re always a bit alert at night. I used to stay close to Musgrave Park in a spot that was probably only about six foot from the footpath. People would walk past all the time but I could hear people coming because of their steps on the bitumen or the talking, I just had to not move. Wherever you are, you hear different noises, so you’re sort of alert. You don’t know always what the noises are.
I never slept with other people and I would walk further than most people to find a place where I could stay. There’s been some interesting situations where I have stayed. I seem to keep moving further and further from the city because more and more people seem to be sleeping out in the city. It’s interesting because when you’re walking around you think, “Oh,that’d be an all right place to sleep.”

A lot of places I stayed would obviously had been used by others, because at different times I’d found syringes there. I used to go past where I slept before I went in to make sure there was no one else there. One night, there was a couple of people sitting on the steps and I thought, “Oh, what am I going to do here? I thought about it. I thought, no, this is my camp. So I went in and I said, “Okay, you guys. Out of here. This is my camp.” And they just left.
That was in this area. I guess that was a more prominent place, but there’s a lot of noise and flashing lights and sirens all night. But where I go  otherwise, it’s generally not as noisy. But sometimes it’s hard to find a place when it’s raining. It’s easy when it’s not raining, but a bit of rain makes it really hard.
I am still sleeping in different spots at the moment. I move around a bit so I can still operate my business selling flowers. It is nice to have a little bit of money for different things but it doesn’t provide enough money to pay for a place to stay. I need to depend on homelessness services around the city and that’s what led me to start getting my clothes washed with Orange Sky.
I can get my sleeping bag and my sleeping gear washed and dried within the hour. So that means that I can wash it and use it the same night. It makes me feel good to be able to do that.

The Musgrave Park shift is a safe place to come to, it’s a regular thing, and it’s consistent. We need consistency. We need routine in our lives, and even if only coming twice a week to here, that’s a plus. At least it’s a start.
I come to the Musgrave Park shifts twice a week and now feel like this is my family. I talk with the volunteers and get to know everyone that attends really well. I think I am known as a bit of a nosy parker, but also think that everyone likes talking to me about what is happening in their lives.
The connection it provides is massive and even if a friend of the service may not be here and a volunteer asked about them I will tell them, “Oh, they asked after you at Orange Sky.” They will then think “Oh, well, I’m just not a nobody. There’s someone that’s thinking about me.” That has to start a value system that, hey, there is someone that’s thinking about me. And for people that are separated, that’s a huge thing. And then you see steps that they do to change or to be more connected, and for normal people, that might be so small. But for some of these people, it’s a huge step and you can see changes then.
It’s important for Orange Sky shifts to keep happening, for the vans to keep coming out because that’s the connection. For some people, it may be the only connection that they have. The volunteers come out every time to the different locations and they know the people that are regularly there and they can interact with them. And it’s great that the people that haven’t got families, that are disconnected, have got somewhere that they can go. People can ask them what’s changed, you know, where it’s going, what’s going on and so forth, and build up a relationship with them. The volunteers are so important.

My life is on the up now. I am back in touch with my children and I am working enough to feel like I have some purpose. In those times when things are not gelling, you have to be patient. I knew it would turn around, but you can’t push it. You can’t push it. You’ve just got to wait for it to turn around.
I always find Christmas to be an interesting time of year, especially when I was very disconnected from my family. Everything you see is family related, people celebrating and you don’t see the sad stories. New Years Eve is the same. People are out there celebrating, but if you’re not part of a group or society or whatever, you become very disconnected. So to have the services available where people can still come together is great because that’s your connection. That’s your stable and that becomes your family.

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One year on from winning $1 million

Jay Almaraz, Volaby Product Lead

If ever the Orange Sky story was one that begged to be shared, 90 seconds was far from the ideal length of time – but that was the challenge we were tasked with if we wanted to walk away with $1 million from Google.org.

We landed in Sydney before the sun had set the day prior and met up for dinner with an expectedly casual Lucas and an uncharacteristically anxious Nic. Tomorrow was the day of the Google Impact Challenge (GIC), an initiative by Google.org to power community minded projects. For the rest of us, the day was an opportunity to explore the Google Sydney campus and bump shoulders with other bright and interesting people. But for Nic, the day centred on a single performance; the pitch. Show them what you’ve got, pitch your idea, tell them where we’re going, and why Google.org should be the ones to help us get there.

It wasn’t a red vs. blue competition, everybody was there for the same reason; hoping to make the biggest possible impact for the community. Still, the panel of judges had the challenge of selecting three organisations out of the ten finalists. Eventually the time came to announce the winners: Xceptional – helping people with autism overcome employment challenges, Humanitix – a platform turning ticket surcharge into social impact, and Hireup – a platform for people with disabilities to connect with the perfect support workers.

Each winner accepted their position with a quick word of thanks, then returned to their seats. We all remained glued to ours, the pit in my stomach was so big I mightn’t have been able to stand up even if I tried. It wasn’t over yet though, as there was another award to be presented… the People’s Choice: Orange Sky.

Our mission is to positively connect communities, and that mission goes beyond vans and laundry. Community is a symbol of connection, conversation and depends entirely on the people within. It makes us so proud to think that our Orange Sky community, the people we connect with, backed us through the Google Impact Challenge. It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to an exciting new Orange Sky story.

Volaby is a platform built to empower other volunteer driven organisations with the tools to amplify their social impact, and connect with their volunteers. Volaby delivers features that have been derived from systems Orange Sky has been using and developing every day since 2016. The Google Impact Challenge award money has allowed us to fast track the development of Volaby, starting with finding the right people.

Growing Volaby from the stem of Orange Sky’s technology is an engineering problem, and to solve it we needed engineers. We set our sights on recruiting software developers who were talented in their craft, tenacious in their character and passionate in their purpose. At each point along the way, we found someone who fit the bill, and the result is a tremendous trio who have since joined myself and Tony on the engineering team. Tom, Lewis, and Bandita are all onboard now to help build Volaby to be the best platform possible.

Without a design team, Volaby was at risk of being a splintery ship; painful to look at and hazardous to board. The amazing Kaira joined the crew and is our User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) designer. Thanks to her guidance, Volaby is a pleasure to use and a beauty to behold. We are establishing an experience that is as frictionless as software can be, for every volunteer and manager, every step of the way.

With the addition of Mike to help us lead the project, we had a team ready to power our ship and we set sail. Inheriting some early work, our captains were at the wheel and Volaby was well underway. With the GIC award filling our sails and a crew founded under Orange Sky’s mission, we are steering Volaby to the destination that we imagined one year ago. A platform to give the for-purpose sector a new edge through technology, to ultimately amplify their social impact and help to positively connect the community.

A huge thank you must go to Google.org – without their support, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have to date in building Volaby and creating a tool to help volunteer organisations around Australia and the world.