Mikey Goes Double the Distance for Orange Sky

There are not many people who would finish a half marathon, and wake up the next morning to run a full marathon! Well that is exactly what dedicated Orange Sky volunteer Mikey set out to do and completed at the Gold Coast Marathon earlier this July. Over two days and 63.3km later, Mikey raised an amazing $2,827 for Orange Sky, which will help positively connect Australians doing it tough through access to free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

Mikey is a passionate volunteer with Orange Sky, recently taking on the position of team leader in Surry Hills, Sydney. As a regular on shift, he sees first hand the impact our bright orange van has on our friends. 

“I’ve previously volunteered with other organisations and although I knew what I was doing was helping, I couldn’t see the impact that I was having. With Orange Sky, talking to our friends while they wait for their washing, or after they’ve had a shower and are feeling refreshed – you can see how appreciative they are and are happy our service makes them. It makes it so easy to give up my spare time.

One of the things that I didn’t fully anticipate with Orange Sky was the actual connection we’d make with our friends. Especially our returning friends. We really get to know them and they get to know us. We arrive on shift and are greeted by name and asked how we are. It’s so great.

Chatting with fellow volunteers is something I really enjoy. It’s great getting together with a group of likeminded people each fortnight to help our friends in need. I’ve met a lot of inspiring people and a lot of great friends.” – Mikey 

Whether you’re eager to smash your fitness goals or just want to give something new a crack like Mikey, you can take on your next active challenge for Orange Sky and help provide clean laundry, warm showers and genuine connection for people doing it tough. 

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Meet Salin: The person behind the stat

Homelessness Week (7-13 August, 2023) is one of the most important events in the Orange Sky calendar – a time to raise awareness and shine a light on the 122,494 Australians doing it tough right now. 

Sadly, that’s one in 210 of us, but behind this statistic are complex and diverse life experiences, proving that no two people have the same journey. By sharing the stories of hardship from the voices of our friends, we can better understand the person behind the stat, and how we can support those doing it tough in our community…

Like Salin, who Orange Sky has supported for the past three years through access to free laundry and shower services, as well as a place to connect. 

Salin works a few shifts here and there unloading shipping containers, however income can become unreliable when the days are quiet and there is no work to be done. Orange Sky has been able to support Salin by providing access to free laundry and shower services, as well as the opportunity for connection.

“I am homeless at the moment and sometimes I don’t have enough money to use the laundry facilities. Orange Sky helps me, I bring my washing here maybe every two weeks. After a shift I feel good, not just because of the washing, but it’s also because I talk to the team who’s here and they are friendly. I live by myself and I don’t have too many close friends, my family is back in my country, Afghanistan.” – Salin, Orange Sky Friend.

In the times where Salin faces loneliness and unemployment, he knows that there will always be a group of welcoming people at his regular shift ready for a laugh and a long chat.

And so, every day, Orange Sky is there in locations across Australia, ready to support people doing it tough. In every one of our vans, pods and laundromats, there are six orange chairs that are pulled out at each shift to create an opportunity for volunteers and friends to connect through non-judgemental conversation.

The Sudsy Challenge is an amazing way to start a conversation, and raise funds and awareness this Homelessness Week so that friends, like Salin, have access to the essential services that Orange Sky provides. 

Whether you get a workplace team together, join your classmates or fly Sudsy solo, we’d love to have you on board for Sudsy September! By not changing clothes, you can help change the narrative around homelessness – and the lives of people doing it tough.

This Homelessness Week, grab your pals, keep your kit on and talk about Orange Sky with your community. Sign up today!

Don’t Change Clothes, Change Lives!

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Yarns from the Road With Judith Meiklejohn: GAPUWIYAK, NT

Nestled at the top of the Northern Territory, in north-eastern Arnhem Land is Gapuwiyak. This remote community is roughly 872 kilometres from Darwin, and interestingly, Gapuwiyak is 219 kilometres closer to Papua New Guinea than it is to Brisbane, Queensland (where Orange Sky HQ is located). In the Yolgnu Matha language spoken by the community, ‘Gapu’ means water, and ‘Wiyak’ means salty or brackish, reflecting the community’s deep connection to the surrounding environment.

The road for Orange Sky to join the Gapuwiyak community was as smooth as they come. Odd, considering this was Orange Sky’s (often unlucky) number 13 Remote Service Rollout! The Remote Vehicle was entrusted to Orange Sky Service Leader (Northern Rivers), Dave Paulsen and his wife Joanne, to travel 3,509km from Brisbane to Darwin.

From there, myself (pictured, left) and Aimee Tyson (Orange Sky Remote Coordinator, pictured right) made our way along the Central Arnhem Highway from Darwin to Gapuwiyak. We had planned to make this leg of the trip by barge with the vehicle but were unable to (maybe this was that 13th roll-out luck kicking in?). We were welcomed into the community with people clapping and cheering as we drove in.

As with all of our services in remote communities, our shifts are run by local people employed by a local community controlled organisation. This fulfils Orange Sky’s Reconciliation Action Plan commitment to facilitate and promote self-determination. Access to clean laundry facilities is an essential service to promote wellbeing in remote locations of Australia.

We are so grateful to be welcomed into the Gapuwiyak community, to wash, yarn and connect together with ALPA and Gapuwiyak residents.

Find out more about Orange Sky’s ‘innovate’ RAP

Orange Sky's RAP

NAIDOC Week 2023; celebrating how Elders pave the way for meaningful connection

This NAIDOC Week 2023 we reflect upon and celebrate the role that Elders have played, and continue to play, in our communities. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ‘Eldership’ is more than age. It is a title of honour and respect, given to those that are entrusted with “maintaining the cultural well-being of family, community, and country” (Gibson, Dudgeon, & Crockett, 2020). The theme, ‘For Our Elders’ reminds us of the deep connections that First Nations peoples have had to Country and culture for an unparalleled span of millennia. We pay homage to the work of Elders that have been, those today and those to come. 

(Nagurrgurrba, 2023)

Orange Sky’s work in connecting people doing it tough with everyday support and meaningful conversation is not new to these lands. For thousands of generations, Elders have used their roles as cultural knowledge holders, nurturers, advocates and leaders; to bring people together.

Today, Orange Sky continues to work with, learn from and be guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders. They are within our committees, on shifts and supporting communities in which we operate. The decisions and knowledge of Elders have shaped our work, particularly within remote communities where we operate 14 services, spanning across QLD, NT and WA.

(Nampijinpa Hudson, 2023)

Our Program Manager of Remote Services, Judith Meiklejohn, reflects on the role of Elders in her work. “We had been operating in Lockhart River for 10 months when I started working with Orange Sky in 2018. I remember setting up a community meeting to learn how the service was tracking. Elders in the community helped me understand that we needed to entirely rethink our remote service model,” Judith said. 

Judith attributes a great deal of Orange Sky’s growth in remote services, to the words and guidance of those Elders. Each of our current and new services works alongside local organisations, Traditional Owners and Elders to ensure we are providing positive and culturally safe connections within communities. 

“In my work, I have been fortunate to see the way that Elders thoughtfully consider age-old cultural protocols, whilst contemplating impacts several generations ahead. There is much that non-Indigenous people and organisations can and should learn from Elders,” Judith said.

(Nagurrgurrba, 2023)

The role of Elders cannot be understated. It is a crucial component of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; for the betterment of all Australians. This NAIDOC Week, and beyond, we celebrate and thank the Elders who pave the way for a better future, for Orange Sky and our wider Australian community.



Gibson, C., Dudgeon, P. and Crockett, J. (2020) ‘Listen, look & learn: Exploring cultural obligations of elders and older Aboriginal people’, Journal of Occupational Science, 27(2), pp. 193–203. doi:10.1080/14427591.2020.1732228. 

Nagurrgurrba, I. (2023) KINGA – SALT WATER CROCODILE, Celebrating Indigenous design with Balarinji this NAIDOC Week. Canva. Available at: https://www.canva.com/newsroom/news/canva-balarinji-partnership/. 

Nampijinpa Hudson, M. (2023) BUSH ONION DREAMING 2, Celebrating Indigenous design with Balarinji this NAIDOC Week. Canva. Available at: https://www.canva.com/newsroom/news/canva-balarinji-partnership/. 

Nagurrgurrba, I. (2023) LONG NECKED TURTLE, Celebrating Indigenous design with Balarinji this NAIDOC Week. Canva. Available at: https://www.canva.com/newsroom/news/canva-balarinji-partnership/. 

Find out more about Orange Sky’s ‘innovate’ RAP

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Learning from First Nations voices this Reconciliation Week and beyond

This Reconciliation Week, Orange Sky recognises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in our community and across all lands. This year’s focus – “Be a Voice for Generations” – deeply resonates with our passion for starting conversations around our orange vans and services. 

The theme of “Be a Voice for Generations” recognises the crucial role that each of us plays in advocating for justice and equity. At Orange Sky, we understand the importance of being heard. Our mission to ‘positively connect communities’ is more than access to free laundry services and warm showers. It is about creating safe and inclusive spaces to speak and be heard. On shifts, and in offices, across many lands of Australia, we connect with and learn from powerful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. 

Orange Sky’s work is strengthened by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across all sectors of our work. Our 37 services would not be where they are today without Orange Sky’s First Nations volunteers gifting their time, staff’s commitment, donors’ generosity, or our friend’s trust. 

This Reconciliation Week, we are grateful to learn from the voices of leaders and changemakers in our ecosystem. This includes Orange Sky Board Member and Dieri and Mithaka man, Keiron Lander. When asked about respectful engagement, Keiron told us, “respectful engagement is the commitment to having proper yarns with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which is deeply rooted in laws and protocols. Now we can learn, because we are committed to learn,” Keiron said.

During the week, our staff also heard from Dr Tim White, Co-Director of RESET, learning about mental health in remote communities and for First Nations people. Orange Sky operates 13 remote services across Australia, one of which is in the North Queensland community of Aurukun. Our remote services are an integral part of providing access to Australia’s needing laundry and connection. Dr White shared with us that, “Humility is the foundation of all interactions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and that is what Orange Sky brings to our community”.

With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples representing three percent of the population, yet 20 percent of Australians experiencing homelessness (ABS, 2023), more work must be done. We recognise that disparities and reconciliation can only be addressed through “proper yarns” rooted in “humility” and respectful protocols, as outlined by Keiron and Dr White. Through our work and underpinned by our Reconciliation Action Plan, Orange Sky is committed to playing our part in improving access to laundry, and showers, as well as maintaining a culturally safe place to speak and be heard.

Find out more about Orange Sky’s ‘innovate’ RAP

Orange Sky's RAP

From donor to volunteer - Phil's impact at Orange Sky

Each year in May, we celebrate National Volunteer Week at Orange Sky. While we do our best to recognise the hard work and dedication of our volunteers year round, this week is the perfect opportunity to reflect on our wonderful vollies and the incredible impact they have in the community and the connections they’re building with our friends. And what better way to do that than by sharing some of their incredible stories?

Today, we’re turning to Phil who’s been volunteering at our Cannon Hill YMCA shift in Brisbane for the past eight months. Phil started his journey with Orange Sky as a donor, but since retiring as a medical director, he’s been able to join the team on the ground as one of our much-loved volunteers.

Behind the conversations, loads of laundry and laughs that Phil’s regular shift brings are stories of hardship that drive his desire to make an impact.

“It’s not just the clothes that people bring down [to shift]. If they find themselves in a house that doesn’t have a washing machine… they can’t put a big load on. We get a lot of sheets and doonas – that’s a big advantage for people to have clean bedding.

It’s easy for us [to say] ‘oh, just throw that in the wash’, but not if you don’t have that facility. It’s down to the laundromat, 14 bucks for a wash. And then if it’s a miserable day, then you’ve got to put it in the dryer and that’s another six or eight bucks. All of a sudden, that’s your food budget gone for half the week.”

Phil’s no stranger to volunteering, having previously done so overseas in countries like the Philippines and Kenya performing medical procedures. For Phil, volunteering, both in a medical capacity and as part of the Orange Sky team, really puts his life into perspective.

“You get to understand where you are in society and what you can do for society and what the true nature of your contribution to life can be. So I think it’s getting out of your bubble and being able to engage and then being able to see yourself reflected back.”

As Phil points out, Orange Sky is so much more than a laundry or shower service. Coming from a medical background, Phil also recognises the massive health advantages of the Orange Sky service. For many people doing it tough, it can often feel like they’re on their own, which can be incredibly isolating. Phil says, “… it’s not only the physical health benefits. It’s also the mental benefits knowing that someone is actually out there and is caring for you and is willing to be there.”

“We have one mum who just says she just loves coming down and knowing that someone will help her with her washing. She’s on her own and doesn’t have anyone to help her.”

Phil described having access to clean clothes, fresh bedding and a nice hot shower as a fundamental part of life. “… it’s about having clothes to wash and wear and having the capacity to have clean clothes and that reminds you that you’re still part of society.” 

And for anyone considering taking the plunge and signing up to volunteer with Orange Sky Phil says, “if it’s something that you feel that you can do, you should be engaged. We’ve got lots of people from different walks of life, who are employed, who get a day off here or day there and come along, and it’s fantastic.

Don’t do it to make yourself feel better, do it to engage with people around you and to really be part of your own community. I think that’s where you’ll find the greatest benefit.”

Interested in volunteering with Orange Sky?

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One Year Since Launching Our RAP - Here's What You Need to Know

It is the first anniversary of Orange Sky Australia’s ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), and we wanted to take a moment to reflect on our progress and reaffirm our ongoing commitment to celebrating culture, acknowledging our shared history and improving the health and social outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We acknowledge the inequities that continue to exist in Australia, and that organisations like ours should not have to implement a RAP to address them. However, we remain steadfast in our belief that we can make a difference, and we are committed to doing our part to deliver the objectives of our RAP as a tangible mechanism for driving change within our communities.

So, where are we at with our RAP outcomes?

We are proud to say that 88% of our deliverables are completed or remain are on track, and we are committed to addressing the 12% of tasks that are yet to be completed in the next year of our plan.

RAP Working Group Chairperson, Jo Senz commented on her pride in the Orange Sky team’s approach to progressing the deliverables.

It has been a pleasure to see how earnestly and authentically our team have committed to reconciliation across all pillars of the organisation,” Jo said. 

“From the outset, it has been important for our team to acknowledge that reconciliation touches all aspects of our work. We wanted our team to make a difference, not only in remote communities or for our friends, but in every place we operate and every person we work alongside,” Jo continued. 

What have been the key highlights?

The expansion of our remote services has been a key highlight throughout the year. We have almost doubled our remote services since launching our RAP – now operating 12 services across Australia. Our new services include a further three in Northern Territory, three in Western Australia and one in Queensland. This growth is allowing us to reach more people in more places, and to provide support to communities that are often overlooked.

We have also made important progress in increasing the representation of First Nations people and voices in our community. 8% of our staff and 3% of our volunteers identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, as well as Dieri and Mithaka man, Keiron Lander, joining our board earlier this year.

Cultural learning is of significant importance for our friends on orange chairs to our staff throughout Australia. That is why we have provided several tailored cultural training opportunities for our staff, to ensure our team is equipped with the resources to facilitate safe and inclusive operations and policies. 


For true reconciliation to exist, it is evident that there is much more work to be done. In the context of homelessness, the recent Census reported that one in five people experiencing homelessness identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ABS, 2021); considerably higher than their non-Indigenous counterparts. We recognise that reconciliation is an ongoing journey. One that must amplify the strength, voices and aspirations of our First Nations communities. 

Orange Sky is committed to being open, honest and transparent about our progress while striving to make tangible change through our RAP. We would like to thank and acknowledge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, staff, board and committee members, volunteers, partners and supporters. Orange Sky community is strengthened by your voices and perspectives.

Find out more about Orange Sky’s ‘innovate’ RAP

Orange Sky's RAP

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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Friend Voice Survey FAQ

You might be wondering, what is the Friend Voice Project Survey?

We’ve put together some of the frequently asked questions for this survey. If you’re not able to find the answer to your question, please reach out to our team by emailing volunteer@orangesky.org.au.


Orange Sky’s mission is to positively connect communities. By measuring the impact of our services and understanding you and your experiences, we are able to help more people.

This survey will help us to gather feedback on your experiences with Orange Sky services, what’s going well and uncover where there are opportunities for improvement.

It will also allow Orange Sky to gather more information for supporters of Orange Sky, whilst still pushing to innovate and support our communities.

No, all of the questions in the survey are optional and not required. You can fill in as much or as little as you would like. We want to know all about you and your experience, but if anything makes you feel uncomfortable in sharing, you can complete the survey with unanswered questions.

The survey is wholly administered by our impact measurement consultancy, Rooy, on a secure external website and the survey data will not be stored on any local computer. You can rest assured that your individual responses cannot be viewed in isolation and all data is deidentified. If you would like to know more, please email us at volunteer@orangesky.org.au.

Anyone who uses Orange Sky’s services are encouraged to participate!

You can complete the survey by clicking here.

You may see the survey pop up in other places like on Orange Sky shifts, in our service provider partners and on this website!

The main things we are asking are what services do you use, how are you getting to shift, how often do you use our services, and other useful information that can help us learn more about you!

Orange Sky will be tracking and measuring progress with the goal to translate the survey data into tangible actions to further help people doing it tough.

Tell us about your experiences

Take the survey now!

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.


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.


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.


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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