Washing in Wadeye

Located in the Northern Territory’s Western top end, Wadeye is home to Orange Sky’s fourth remote community service, where we launched our laundry truck in September 2021. For over two years, we have been grateful to support Wadeye’s culturally abundant and diverse community alongside our partner, Thamarrurr Development Corporation (TDC), building impact through free laundry, local employment and local partnerships.

Since 2020, our services in remote communities have grown from three to 13 locations, as a result of the demand for ongoing expansion and longer-term presence. Higher purchasing costs and limited service support mean that it is extremely difficult to access reliable laundry facilities, resulting in increased critical health issues such as scabies, bedsores and Rheumatic Heart Disease. Through providing access to essential health hardware which helps provide clean bedding and clothing, Orange Sky helps to reduce negative health outcomes in these communities. 

Our remote services are some of our most utilised in the country, with Wadeye’s wash numbers overtaking those in metro Sydney and Melbourne services, which operate multiple vans at once. To meet the increased demand we set up a second van, which our Remote Program Manager Jude visited last December.

It’s really valuable to be able to respond to the extraordinary need in Wadeye and to build on our partnership with Thamarrurr Development Corporation (TDC). We have incredible feedback from TDC and the community about the impact created with the van” – Jude, Remote Program Manager.

Our service expansion would not be possible without the ongoing support from our amazing partner employees (from L to R) Sophia, Terese and Gabriella (supervisor) – thank you for keeping our washers turning and conversation flowing in the community!

Learn more about our remote services

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Pick Up Drop Off Laundry, an Orange Sky Innovation Initiative

From our research and speaking with people doing it tough, we know there are some key barriers that prevent people who are in need of free laundry and connection from using our service. These most notably being distance, accessibility, time commitments and dependants.

Orange Sky is trialling a new service model where we support families who are in motels as emergency accommodation. These motels provide a safe space to sleep but often don’t have access to laundry and connection, which can play an important part in the transition from emergency accommodation back into stable housing.

The new ‘Pick Up, Drop Off’ model will see Orange Sky’s already known and trusted service reimagined – volunteers will attend a location convenient to friends, such as a place of residence, and stay for a chat. This model addresses barriers of travel and time while also ensuring friends can care for dependents in a safe location.  

We have been able to pilot this model at a local Brisbane motel thanks to the support of an organisation who houses families temporarily. This organisation is doing incredible work for families who are transitioning to permanent housing, and Orange Sky is delighted to work alongside them to take a load off for residents. Whilst the conversations are flowing, our volunteers split into teams to wash the items at a nearby location and return them to the shift.

By using a local laundromat we can get through large amounts of washing in a short period of time (1.5 hours for 32 loads). This also allows us to scale faster in areas with limited van availability or access.

“It was amazing to see all the families interacting with each other and children playing together, a real sense of community, and the families using the services provided for them,” – Motel Manager.

“I have been washing the kids’ uniforms in the bath tub for weeks,” – Father of four.

Innovation is part of our DNA at Orange Sky and continues to be the driving force behind our five year strategy. Our target is to triple our impact by 2025 whilst exploring new and improved ways to help more people in the community doing it tough.

Find out more about how Orange Sky uses the power of innovation to help more friends in need  

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How the power of a conversation brought Cass and Casey together

Do you know that feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you just instantly connect with them? The feeling where you just want to continue speaking with them and learning more about them? Well, that is the exact feeling I got when I met Orange Sky friend Cass out on shift a few months ago.

My name is Casey, and as part of my role in the marketing team here at Orange Sky, I have the pleasure of meeting incredible people – like Cass – out on shift and hearing their stories.

I met Cass on a Wednesday morning on the Sunshine Coast. When I first arrived to shift, Cass was speaking with Jan, one of the volunteers who she regularly chats with. Cass was showing Jan some of her artwork that she had created for The Salvation Army as a gift. Cass was holding a number of stones in her hand that she had delicately painted on that shared the beautiful words of ‘hope’, ‘faith’ and ‘love’. I could see the passion and happiness in Cass’s face as she talked about her artwork. As soon as I entered the conversation, a complete stranger, Cass embraced me with a kind, welcoming smile and began proudly showing me her artwork and explaining the finishing touches she was to make.

As Jan busily began doing loads of laundry and welcoming other friends onto shift, I sat down and chatted with Cass some more. I began to learn that Cass has lived in her van for more than two years. Two years without her children. Two years without her family surrounding her. Two years without a safe and stable place to call home. 

As I sat and spoke with Cass, I learned that just recently before she had no option but to move out of her home and begin living in her van, Cass was diagnosed with tonsil cancer and underwent treatment. Cass was so brave to share her story with me, but the thing that astounded me most was Cass’ fun-loving, charismatic and optimistic personality. Although she has overcome many challenges, and still faces many challenges ahead, she was kind, thoughtful and keen for a cheerful conversation full of laughs.

Cass asked me about myself; she wanted to get to know me and couldn’t express her gratitude enough for how much the Orange Sky service and the incredible team of volunteers had supported her whilst she currently finds herself in a really tough situation.

Unfortunately, Cass’s story isn’t unlike many stories I have heard whilst working at Orange Sky. What I love about my job is meeting friends like Cass – seeing their determination and resilience is inspiring. Cass was a hard-working single mum – just like my own beautiful mother – but encountered a few turns of bad luck. As Cass shared with me, she has now found herself in a situation that she never thought she would be in – a story that’s more common than you think. 

For Cass, one thing that gets her through and helps her in her dark days is art. Cass hopes to share her love and passion for art with her community. Cass has dreams of creating a mobile art studio from her van – her smile and energy whilst talking about her visions of her art studio was infectious. I just wish I knew how to draw anything other than some shocking stick figures and a weird looking dog! Who knows, maybe Cass can teach me a few things (if she has the patience)…

I connect with Cass regularly. Whenever I am on the Sunshine Coast, I stop by Cass’ shift to check-in and have a laugh. She brightens up the shift and is a joy to be around.

The 2021 Census tells us that 122,000 Australians are experiencing homelessness, but the reality is that so many more people are doing it tough and in need of support. People like Cass who have no other way of having their clothes cleaned, or people who feel isolated or disconnected from their community and come to Orange Sky simply for the connection and conversation provided by our volunteers. People like Cass aren’t a number or a homelessness statistic to us. They are our friends; we get to know them and learn more about them, and be there for them in a simple yet powerful way. I am grateful for my job and the people my role here has allowed me to meet and connect with. It reminds me to be grateful for what I have and to never judge someone based on their situation. 

If you want to hear more about Cass’s story, you can watch this video, and if you want to check out some of Cass’s artwork, be sure to follow her on socials @nozones_mobile_art_studio

Find out how you can help positively connect some of the 122,494 Australians doing it tough.

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Orange Sky’s Youngest Philanthropist Making a Huge Impact For Our Friends

Every day across Australia hundreds of Orange Sky vans pull up beside our service providers across the country, our passionate volunteers pull on a bright orange shirt and six orange chairs are placed, ready for genuine conversations. 

It’s a simple formula, but one that creates loads of impact for our friends doing it tough. However, Orange Sky’s service is not complete without our community of generous supporters who are the fuel that powers each wash, shower and conversation. 

On National Philanthropy Day, we want to take the opportunity to celebrate their contributions, big or small, which allows us to achieve our goal of positively connecting  40,000 people across Australia and New Zealand by 2025.

Since Orange Sky’s first wash back in 2014, our co-founder and CEO Lucas Patchett has seen first hand the impact our generous Philanthropists can have on the growth of our service….

“Orange Sky would not be here without the incredible, continued support and commitment we receive from our philanthropic community. Philanthropy giving allows us to be proactive and to forward plan however also reactive and respond to crises and needs as they change.

In the past nine years, I’ve been lucky enough to interact with philanthropists from all walks of life. It is always humbling to hear their stories and understand why it is so important for them to give back to the community. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went and visited the Quinn family, who have been supporting Orange Sky for the past couple of years. With a focus on getting the next generation of the family involved in philanthropy, their youngest, Charlie, is getting hands on and asking the big questions, like how Orange Sky are working to better the planet. It’s incredible to see the next generation of philanthropists come through and show their passion for making an impact in the lives of others. 

Charlie and I even had the opportunity to sit in one of our vans for a chat….” – Lucas Patchett, Orange Sky Founder and CEO. 

I want to make the world a better place! I heard about Orange Sky from my brother who learnt about it at school. I love the vans and love helping people so it was perfect! – Charlie. 

Charlie is just one example of the power of connection in action and we are so grateful for young people like him in our community who are passionate about making the world a better place for our friends doing it tough.

Find out how you can help positively connect some of the 122,494 Australians doing it tough.

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A simple service with a huge difference this holiday season

The holiday season is a special time of year when families and friends gather to connect, reflect and look ahead to the future. For many, the holiday season provides a much-needed opportunity to pause and appreciate the simple pleasures of life. However amid the twinkling lights and joyful festivities are stories of disconnect and isolation experienced by our friends doing it tough. 

Their stories are unique, but often too common – especially over the holiday period. There’s no good time of year to be experiencing homelessness, but it’s particularly rough when you see other people celebrating and having family holidays – and you’re not even safe or comfortable. 

We can’t solve homelessness alone, but we know that a place for connection and a listening ear can make the world of difference for someone doing it tough. 

Orange Sky is a non-profit that provides a simple, yet essential service that supports people who are experiencing homelessness or hardship through access to free laundry, warm showers and most importantly genuine, non-judgemental conversation. Our focus is on creating a safe, positive and supportive environment for people doing it tough, helping to ease their sense of isolation and disconnection from the community. 

From sitting down on our orange chairs and chatting with friends, we’ve learnt that access to clean laundry services is what commonly brings people to Orange Sky – but connection is what makes this a life-changing service.

Our main aim at this time of year is to operate as consistently as possible, providing our friends with a trusted, reliable place for free laundry and shower services. But even more importantly, a friendly yarn will be there when they need it most. Orange Sky won’t pack away our orange chairs for the holiday period, and with your support, our volunteers can be there for our friends – just like Cass.

Cass was a working mum looking after two kids when she was diagnosed with cancer. The side effects of her treatment made her incredibly sick. She couldn’t work, and when she was late with paperwork, her Centrelink benefits were stopped. Cass couldn’t afford her rent any more. Cass was “absolutely devastated” when she had to send her kids to live with their dad – so they’d have a home. She moved into her tiny hatchback car.

The holiday season can be hard for our friends, because it reminds them of things they may lack – like family, safety, and the comfort of home. That’s how Cass felt last year.

“It’s really hard to be in my car alone. It hurts. The hardest thing is not being with my kids. Last Christmas, I didn’t even get to speak to my children.”

Cass is just one of the 122,494* people experiencing homelessness – up from 116,000 in 2016. The Census provides a snapshot of Australia in August 2021 – but the reality of the past 18 months indicates the rates of homelessness may be even higher now.

Connection is important all year round, but is heightened over this important holiday period. We all deserve this very basic human right. You and Orange Sky can make a difference.

We’ll be there when people need us– but we really need your support to keep our services running and volunteers ready to connect. Any support you can give to our holiday appeal would assist Orange Sky in offering a reliable service that provides our friends with a place to feel welcome over the holidays.

* That’s the number of Australians experiencing homelessness last Census night. It’s probably even higher now. (ABS Estimating Homelessness, 2023)

Help provide connection these holidays for people like Cass. Make a donation today.

Please, donate today

Orange Sky’s Vehicle Upgrade Project, Fuelled by Innovation

Innovation is part of our DNA at Orange Sky and continues to be the driving force behind our five year strategy; to triple our impact by 2025 whilst exploring new and improved ways to help more people in the community doing it tough.

Orange Sky was founded in a Brisbane garage in 2014 by 20-year-old mates, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett. The duo pushed the limits and hatched a world-first idea to provide a simple, yet essential service to support people doing it tough.

They threw two washing machines and two dryers in the back of an old van, with a plan to visit parks around Brisbane and provide access to free laundry services. Eight years on, Orange Sky now operates in 36 locations across Australia, providing over 300 shifts every week, and is supported by over 2,500 incredible volunteers.

In everything we do, we’ve strived to think outside the box; from our expansion into mobile showers, to building a software platform that supports other not-for-profits to manage their volunteer operations, and most recently, innovative engineering to upgrade our entire van fleet across Australia to significantly reduce environmental impact and maximise service reliability. 

Two key features included in the upgrade project have been the removal of diesel generators that have now been replaced with solar-powered equipment and battery banks. In addition, all vans have been fitted out with the innovative Orange Sky Waru Dryer – the world’s first clothes dryer to use fuel-powered air heaters and solar-powered batteries. Gary, one of our long-standing volunteers in Townsville, is just one of many who is already seeing great impacts from the vehicle upgrade project. 

“I love using the upgraded van.  It is easier to use, and more reliable for everyone.  The vans now have brand new washing machines and dryers that work more efficiently. They are solar powered as well, which is great for the environment and without the noisy diesel generators, the new vans are wonderfully quiet.”  – Gary, Townsville Volunteer. 

With innovation at the forefront, backed by the continued support of our volunteers, friends and partners, the vehicle upgrades will reduce Orange Sky’s electrical consumption by up to 90%. Additionally, we can help an estimated 1,000 additional friends across Australia every year, and continue our mission to provide the best experience for our friends and volunteers.

Every organisation can take little steps to reduce their impact on the environment, and this vehicle upgrade is just one small step in our journey to be better for the environment” – Nic, Orange Sky Co-Founder. 

Dreaming about new and better ways to do what we do, and then making it happen speaks volumes to us at Orange Sky, and continues to be the fuel that powers our impact. We see innovation as an opportunity to create impactful change, and with the rising cost of living making it harder for everyone to get by, Orange Sky wants to be there to support the growing number of people doing it tough by creating a safe space for connection -our mission since day one. 

Learn more about innovation at Orange Sky

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Meet Orange Sky’s newest Board Member, Keiron Lander

Orange Sky is excited to welcome Keiron Lander as the newest Non Executive Director. Keiron brings to the board table his expertise in preventative health and youth advocacy, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ outcomes.

A proud Dieri and Mithaka man from South West Queensland (Quilpie), Keiron is passionate about leaving a legacy of progress in his footsteps. 

We sat down with Keiron to learn more about his background, values, and what drove him to be a board member for Orange Sky Australia. Yarning under the fig trees in Brisbane (Meanjin), Keiron’s passion for community, deep thinking and knack for storytelling became clear. 

“How do you think people learn anything important?” Keiron asked. 

“Storytelling,” he said. 

Orange Sky is grateful to share an aspect of Keiron’s story and benefit from his voice in supporting Australians experiencing homelessness.

Background

Career highlights:

  • Deadly Choices – State Operations Manager | 2010 – 2022
  • Rugby League – Coach Ipswich Jets | 2016 – 2021
  • Young Guns Container Crew – Head of Indigenous Impact | 2022 – present

Keiron’s professional history represents an exceptionally hands-on approach to supporting his community. Keiron was instrumental in the early development of one of Australia’s most successful preventative health programs, Deadly Choices. As the State Operations Manager for over a decade, Keiron and his team played a role in growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples health checks by 762% (since 2010, source: Deadly Choices).

Keiron’s work at Deadly Choices was alongside a successful decade in professional Rugby League, as a player and coach. In both roles, he honed his leadership craft, ultimately learning his passion for improving youth engagement. Since April 2022, Keiron has channelled this passion at Young Guns Container Crew, leading their Indigenous impact strategy aimed at getting young people into the labour market.

Values

Keiron’s character and drive were shaped by a childhood of strong family ties and sport. Growing up in and around Mithaka Country, Keiron’s connection to Country and sporting success developed his commitment to teamwork, reciprocity, and camaraderie. Whether it is his teammates on the field, disengaged youth or people sleeping rough, Keiron won’t rest if people are left behind.

“I grew up working hard for my rugby teams, workplace and my community. I don’t do things in halves,” Keiron said.

Values

Keiron’s character and drive were shaped by a childhood of strong family ties and sport. Growing up in and around Mithaka Country, Keiron’s connection to Country and sporting success developed his commitment to teamwork, reciprocity, and camaraderie. Whether it is his teammates on the field, disengaged youth or people sleeping rough, Keiron won’t rest if people are left behind.

“I grew up working hard for my rugby teams, workplace and my community. I don’t do things in halves,” Keiron said.

Orange Sky Board

Despite already undertaking significant professional, family and community roles, Keiron says that a strong value alignment drew him to Orange Sky. Orange Sky’s focus on community-led engagement and improving safe and inclusive spaces, is of key interest to Keiron. 

With Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples over-represented in the homeless population, we acknowledge the considerable work yet to be done. Keiron is passionate about Orange Sky growing our social impact with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Not only in remote settings, but in all locations in which we operate, and, most importantly, enriched within our policies and culture. See Orange Sky’s Reconciliation Action Plan – click here

The decision to apply for and accept the Orange Sky Board role was not taken lightly. Keiron shared the importance that his community played as he considered the opportunity.

“I discussed the opportunity at great length with my old people. They walked with me on the journey and reassured me that this was a good path,” Keiron said.

Among his interest in governance and training, Keiron made his eagerness to visit Orange Sky shifts clear. He hopes to don an orange shirt and connect with our friends and volunteers.

“We learn through stories. So, for me to learn the real stories of Orange Sky, I need to speak to the people we serve,” Keiron said.

What’s next for Keiron and Orange Sky?

Keiron was appointed as a Board Member at the 2022 Orange Sky Annual General Meeting in November 2022. Keiron joins a committed Board including Andrew Fraser, Paula Holden, Lucas Patchett, Nicholas Marchesi, Nick Miller, Sommer Davies and Lachlan Mitchell. 

The Orange Sky family welcomes Keiron as part of the Board, helping us to positively connect more communities. In his role on the Board, he will directly contribute to our strategic goal of providing fit-for-purpose governance to deliver our mission. 

Want to know more about our Orange Sky Board members?

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Yvonne reflects on why volunteering is more important than ever before

December 5th marks a very special day in the Orange Sky calendar – it’s International Volunteer Day. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our remarkable team of volunteers and the work they do each day to positively connect communities across Australia and New Zealand through washing, showers and most importantly, genuine, non-judgmental conversations. 

Each week, teams of volunteers gather in communities across Australia to provide a safe, welcoming and reliable space for our friends doing it tough. In these times of financial uncertainty, our remarkable volunteers are needed now more than ever before. One such Volunteer is Yvonne, who reflects first hand on this need, and explains how important it is to ease the load for our friends doing it tough. 

Delassa (Gemai’s Mum) and Yvonne (Orange Sky Volunteer)

“My name’s Yvonne and I’m a Team Leader at Orange Sky. We are a really busy shift with about five people who are volunteers that assist with the laundry on a Monday. None of the little houses have any laundry facilities at all so we are a really highly desirable service for the area. I have an appreciation of the situations some of our friends find themselves in, where they don’t even have six dollars to go over to the laundromat to wash their clothes. The $6 that they saved by doing their laundry with us at Orange Sky meant that they ate lunch that day.”

Gemai is one of those women, who as Yvonne explains, lives right next to where they park the van. 

“Gemai has a number of children, two of whom are autistic which places a lot of extra demands on her time and money. Gemai knows we’re here, she accesses us on a weekly basis and she’s the most pleasant, polite, engaging lady that you could get. Her Mum [Delassa] also lives in the complex too, she’s just a delightful lady, we really enjoy engaging with her and providing a service for her.

We’re making their lives a little bit easier by doing what I think is a fairly small thing, but to them is something really huge. I don’t think we should underestimate that, I think it’s a great thing that we do to help them”. 

With the rising costs of living affecting so many communities across Australia, it’s more important than ever for volunteers like Yvonne to be there to help #EaseTheLoad. 

Learn more about volunteering at Orange Sky

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A YEAR IN REVIEW: 2022

At the close of 2022 year, we can reflect on the enormous challenge of the past 12 months.

 

From COVID-19 through to the floods in South East QLD and NSW Northern Rivers, Orange Sky worked hard to positively connect communities, supporting people with access to free mobile laundry, warm showers and genuine conversations.

 

This year Orange Sky saw growth in services, innovation and impact.

We launched new services - including four in remote communities (Aurukun, Yungngora, Yakanarra, Galwinku) - and led a number of successful ventures, including vehicle upgrades that will allow our fleet to be more reliable, user-friendly and better for the environment. As an organisation, we are committed to being an ethical, sustainable and inclusive charity leader, and we’re proud to have a Reconciliation Action Plan.

 

We want to say a massive thank you to our partners, donors, volunteers and friends who have stayed with us, trusted us and supported us throughout the year.

 

Orange Sky cannot have an impact without you!

Hear from our community

"Lots of people think homelessness is mostly of their fault. From volunteering I understand there are so many factors impacting on people being homeless. The awareness is better now and sadly before there was no real action at all, it was considered a very hidden thing. Our friends take so much pride in their appearance and clean clothes are a big part of that"


- Greg, Orange Sky Volunteer.

"I come down and do my washing once a week. It makes me feel better - better in myself, to be able to have a shower and put clean clothes on. Otherwise, I would have no way to put fresh clothes on, I would have to wait until payday - but then I wouldn't be able to afford much."


- Matt, Orange Sky Friend.

"You don't know what everyone's going through or what they're facing, outside of work or walking past them in the street. Sometimes all someone needs is a conversation and it makes their day immediately better, and that puts them in a better head space for better things to come their way."


- Kate, Orange Sky Volunteer.

Lean more about Orange Sky's

Reconciliation Action Plan

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OUR NATIONAL PARTNERS

OUR PARTNERS


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.

Orange Sky acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional custodians of the land across Australia. We pay our respect to Ancestors and their descendants who hold a continued cultural and spiritual connection to the land, seas and community and would like to recognise and uphold Indigenous knowledges and contributions of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We are committed to working together to create a positive future through our Reconciliation Action Plan.


Spin Cycle - Volunteer Newsletter

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