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  • 20 October 2021 9:47 AM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    Social Procurement Success with a Telco Enterprise! ASANA team looking at computer screen

    Procurement for social enterprises can be a long and windy road. 

    It was a journey that Australian Spatial Analytics recently undertook with one of the largest essential service providers in Australia and New Zealand – Ventia Utility Services. With the help of many, we have commenced a partnership recently with Ventia and look forward to a long-term relationship. Here were some of key learnings we will take with us and hopefully can be of benefit to others:

    1.  Find Champions within the Organisation

    Build relationships with individuals within the organisation. It may not be with the procurement team necessarily. We were actually connected with Ventia through an Advisory Board member of ours (Thank you Evan Shellshear!) We established a great alignment with one of their business units that suited our the neurodiverse strengths of our team and an area we wanted to develop their skills in. 

    2.  Understand how you can Build Trust

    While you may have found a champion, support is often needed from multiple stakeholders and decision makers. For our engagement with Ventia, we would also needed help from the technical team to upskill. To build trust and move forward, our team, with the support of Ventia’s technical team members spent several weeks learning the basic foundations of design. To the team’s credit and amidst lockdowns which prevented in-person training, the team were committed to the task. While this period of time was unpaid, it was an investment in the relationship and increased the client’s trust to move forward with procurement and signing contracts.

    3.  Be available to the procurement team and seek support when needed

    Offer help and keep in touch with the procurement team. This may be their first time in procuring a social enterprise which can lead to the need for extra clarifications on their end to their leadership and from you. During the procurement cycle with Ventia, we invited our CFO to the call to help explain some of exemptions we have as a DGR Registered Charity and Social Enterprise.

    With time, we commenced work with the Queensland Telecommunications business to undertake design work on the NBN project which will later roll out to other states. Specifically, the team is currently working on ‘As Built Designs’ which are the revised set of drawings that a subcontractor submits upon completion of a project factoring in all modifications and changes required during the build. “With this, there is great alignment with our business in data analysis that suits the ASA team’s areas of focus, and we are delighted to have commenced working with them on this project”, said Matthew Swan who is the Senior Project Manager ODM in Queensland for Ventia. 

    Finding champions within the organisations, building relationships with them and demonstrating the team’s ongoing commitment to improvement has been key to getting this relationship started. We are grateful to Ventia, as a larger corporate enterprise in Australia to be a pioneer for social procurement. 

    For Australian Spatial Analytics, will look to leverage Ventia’s support and the teams’ skill development to help us open the door to more corporate entities in future.


    To read the full article announcing the partnership from Ventia:

  • 31 August 2020 1:57 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    My name is David Carberry, I am the Producer for Shock Therapy Productions. We are a Gold Coast based not for profit performing company, we have a huge youth program, and our work is mostly social and issue based. During the restrictions from covid-19 we have taken the opportunity to pivot our business and create a Live Online program which has enabled us to continue to deliver our work to students and audiences in Qld and now beyond. In a project supported by the Consulate-General Mumbai we are now partnering with HOTA on the Gold Coast and Qld Live Streaming to broadcast our performance of Viral to students in Mumbai.

    The broadcast went out to almost 200 students and teachers from 7 different schools in Mumbai and Pune who are currently on full lockdown.  It was a huge success, with immensely positive feedback from the students and teachers. In addition to this we also had a number of dignitaries including; James Middleton, Vice Consul, Australian Consulate-General, Mumbai and Hema Singh Rance, Manager, Cultural and Public Diplomacy, Australian High Commission. As well as members of various arts organisations and festivals in Mumbai who were looking at examples of ways to connect with their audiences in new ways during this time of full lock down.

    The post show discussion was then facilitated by Dr Chetna Duggal, a clinical psychologist and a faculty member at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Priya Srinivasan, the head of the Pomegranate Workshopwho helped connect the 7 schools in Mumbai with Shock Therapy. There were 130 students involved in the post show discussion which cantered around the themes in the production with an aim to help students deal with the stresses and potential dangers of doing everything online during this time of full lock down.

    Overall this was a huge success, with many firsts, and many important steps towards positively evolving and progressing how we connect with audiences and with each other during this time.

  • 31 August 2020 1:56 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    Like most other businesses, it was like we went to sleep one day and the next everything was crashing around us. We thought, ‘people are still going to need to market their business, perhaps now more than ever’. But we were so wrong. Each and every client was affected and in turn we were as well. Just like our Social Enterprise having this beautiful second hand positive impact through our clients, the ripple can also affect us in the other direction.

    Every day I asked myself, how can I stay on my vision?

    My vision statement for House of Eden Studio is ‘Together We Thrive, Leading Better Business’. It’s about bring socents and purpose led business together to help grow everyone in a positive direction.

    On day three I thought to myself, I can still connect with like-minded individuals and inspire more do to better business during this time. So I conducted a group of 10 interviews online with social entrepreneurs, of whom most I had never met.

    They were so much fun, full of inspiring conversation and valuable tips that we are about to launch the series. To check it out and get a download of all the tips visit

    Since the videos were filmed, House of Eden Studio is proud to say that we are re-emerging out of the pandemic better than ever. We have expanded our team and so happy to able to be helping fellow Social Entrepreneurs find their feet again. 

    We are offering a free 1 hour mentoring session to any social enterprise that was affected by COVID-19 too as well as launching our next round of matched-funded programs in September so we encourage everyone get in touch to take advantage of these offers 

  • 31 August 2020 1:55 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    The Good Beer Co – like a lot of social enterprises and, in particular, like businesses in the independent beer and hospitality sector, has had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. And collaboration has been the way to keep things going – which has been heartening, enjoyable and worthwhile!

    First up, with borders closed in Australia and the UK we obviously had to park our planned UK launch – a new beer for the Jo Cox Foundation to be launched at their Great Get Together event (which normally involves 3 million people at over 35,000 local community events across the UK). So we held a “beers from both sides of the world” online event to celebrate and mark the Great Get Together with people in the UK and in Australia – I was joined by our good mate and fellow Queensland social enterprise,  Clinton from Sobah Non Alcoholic Beverages in Australia and by Catherine the CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation and Fergus, the Head Brewer at The Good Beer Co’s brewery partners at Adnams in the UK.

    Here’s the blog I wrote about my friend Jo Cox and the Great Get Together for that event:

    As we all went into lockdown and The Good Beer Co wasn’t able to brew or sell beers I teamed up with my friends Matt and Jos from Hop On Brewery Tours (also on a COVID-19 pause – with breweries in lockdown and tourists not allowed to travel) and eight fantastic independent craft breweries from across Australia (including fellow social enterprises Sobah in Queensland and Sparkke in South Australia) to launch and run the ‘A Good Beer Always Helps’ campaign to raise funds to shout Aussie essential workers a 4 pack of local beers. 

    I was also helped by Leigh Grigaliunas from fellow social enterprise World’s Biggest Garage Sale, who took over setting up our website forms and back end and everyone tech related – working in the evenings and at weekends to make sure it was ready and it worked. And by a bunch of amazing creatives who produced video, social media and other content for the campaign for the love of social enterprise, local beer and the campaign. 

    The campaign took off quickly raising over $20,000 in donations in its first two weeks and I was interviewed live by ABC News 24 from my home and by Channel Ten Studio Ten from Newstead Brewery and our brewery partners at Van Dieman and Moo Brew in Tasmania and at Capital Brewing in Canberra also did live television interviews. It was a lovely positive campaign that not only provided support to independent craft breweries doing it tough but also thanked our essential workers the Australian way – with a round of local beers!

    The Pozible campaign raised $52,000 enabling us to thank 2,600 nurses, aged care workers, posties, refuse collectors, supermarket workers, teachers, home care workers, ambos, police, fire fighters and more a gift of beers to thank them for their care, courage and generosity in keeping us all safe and keeping the country going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Here’s the team at our BCorp crowd funding platform partners Pozible writing about the success of phase one of ‘A Good Beer Always Helps’:

    Following the success of the crowd fund campaign I was approached by Founders First and another 8 independent craft breweries to join ‘A Good Beer Always Helps’ by putting together a campaign case of 16 independent craft beers to sell nationwide in BWS and Dan Murphys stores (and online).

    During phase one of the campaign (the crowd fund) we registered 10,000 essential workers who requested a gift of beers via a form on our website and I was determined to shout them all a beer. Thanks to the campaign case and the generosity of Founders First and all 16 of the campaign’s independent craft brewery partners we’ve been able to let all 10,000 workers know we’ll be thanking them with a beer!

    Here’s Beer and Brewer writing about the campaign and our campaign case – now available in over 1,000 BWS and Dan Murphys stores nationwide:

    ‘A Good Beer Always Helps’ was inspired by a campaign set up by UK social enterprise Brewgooder (who, like The Good Beer Co work with breweries to create and sell beers to sell for good causes) called #oneonus which donates a 4 pack of Brewgooder beers to NHS workers on the frontline of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic there:

    The campaign has helped us to forge new friendships and relationships at a very challenging time – like our brand and campaign going into BWS and Dan Murphys nationwide. But most importantly it’s done some good – for the independent craft beer industry in Australia that has supported us for over 4 and a half years and for hard working essential workers who don’t ask to be thanked but definitely appreciate it.

    I’m looking forward to watching all of our 16 partners and the wider independent craft beer industry in Queensland, Australia and the UK, emerge from a difficult period of time and am standing by to offer support as a friend and partner and social enterprise.

    Like our mixed case of beers in BWS and Dan Murphys, COVID-19 has brought together organisations and people who haven’t previously collaborated and they’ve benefitted from teaming up and working together  – stronger collectively than they are individually. 

    Find out more at

  • 31 August 2020 1:53 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    OUR COVID STORY: The Caboolture Co-op

    The Caboolture Community Work Cooperative, modelled off the legendary Nundah Co-op, is a grass-roots social enterprise which employs people with disabilities in the Moreton Bay region through a small lawn mowing enterprise, and the Lagoon Creek Café and Function Room.

    The speed at which the COVID-19 crisis completely shut down the operations of the Lagoon Creek Café on 24th March, was quite shocking for all connected to the Co-op and most particularly the 15 people with disabilities employed by the café, who were stood down overnight with little warning.

    The cafe had proudly increased its catering and function room turn-over by 50% in the previous nine months leading up to the crisis and was providing up to 80hours per week employment to its members with disabilities. So, to see this hard-won success disappear overnight was devastating for all concerned.

    Because of its out-of-the way location, with no drive-by or walk-in traffic, it was not viable to offer a take-away service or to try to remain open serving coffee with minimal staff.

    During the shutdown period of two months, management and support staff worked hard to stay connected to our members to try to minimise the negative impact of social isolation on their mental health. It was a very difficult time, and people responded in varying ways to the isolation.  Through video calls and positive conversations about the future, members were prepared and trained for the eventual re-opening of the café and how to implement new procedures and routines to comply with government requirements specific to the restaurant industry.

    During this time, management and the board also applied for small hardship grants and received the ATO cash boost.  The Co-op was also eligible for Job Keeper which enabled the café to open doors again on 26th May, providing 30-50 hours of employment weekly to date.

    Since re-opening, there has been an increased amount of café foot traffic as people gladly start getting out and about again.  One of the regular users of the function room has returned three days per week but the main income, being the catering for meetings and workshops from large corporates and the university, is not likely to return in the foreseeable future.

    Yes, we are open, and we are grateful for the government grants and specifically the Job Keeper which allowed the café to open and pay its staff. We remain hopeful that if the catering contracts do not return by the end of September, and the hospitality sector is still suffering, the government will implement a further period of Job Keeper to prevent the inevitable loss of jobs and/or closure of small businesses like ours.

    Deb Griesheimer, Chairperson of the Board

    Caboolture Community Work Cooperative

  • 31 August 2020 1:51 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    Like the now all too frequent droughts, floods and fires in this country have shown, COVID-19 has again demonstrated that Australia’s food system teeters like a house of cards waiting to collapse.

    Here at Food Connect, we’ve been feeding customers for 15 years, while at the same time paying growers the true cost of production and building a secure supply of locally sourced food and goods. Started by ex-dairy farmer Robert Pekin, the business is built on the concept of community supported agriculture, where a reciprocal relationship between the growers, makers and the eaters goes beyond a simple online transaction. Customers are provided with information about the people who grow and make their food, and pricing is transparent. Growers are supported through a stable price – the last price increase was three years ago before the drought – and so they’re not subject to the vagaries of the market. They grow just enough to service Food Connect and their own direct markets, and have the ability to ramp up and ramp down as the situation dictates.

    When COVID-19 forced the community off the streets and onto our computers to hunt and gather online, Food Connect’s orders quadrupled in a matter of days. Suddenly, Brisbane’s food ‘network effect’ quickly activated in a number of ways:

    • Almost immediately, our networks of buyers clubs, restaurants and cafes pivoted to take on more customers, and we shared our business model to assist many to distribute their own fruit and vegetable boxes to their local community;
    • Local events companies had to shut down and we diverted their vans and drivers to help us expand our delivery runs;
    • Farmers markets started calling us and we shared ways they could set up box deliveries so that their farmers didn’t miss out;
    • Food Connect’s farmers also ramped up their operations and started selling more directly to customers by collaborating with neighbouring growers;
    • The packing and warehouse team employed jobless hospitality staff desperate for work, with 10 extra employees recruited in the first week of lockdown.

    Bringing food back to a relationship-based system is not just a feel good exercise. It’s economically and structurally efficient and equitable – valuing all actors along the supply chain, and decentralising the control and access to good food. Not only that, it reduces the carbon footprint of the huge logistical operations of our current food system, and can encourage farming practices that build healthier soils and regenerate land and water systems.

  • 31 August 2020 1:50 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    Without putting too fine a point on it, coronavirus hit Vanguard hard.

    The vast majority of our business is within the accommodation sector, whose occupancy rates fell to nearly zero almost as soon as restrictions were announced. This resulted in an instant 80% drop in our business, reducing our average weekly volume from 50 tons of laundry a week down to less than 10. The crisis had hit.

    The domino effect, similar to many businesses, meant that more than 30 people faced an immediate reduction of hours and income to effectively zero.

    Vanguard’s first response was to focus the management team to 2 clear issues;

    1. The first and most important factor was to make sure that all of our impacted staff, most of whom had come to us with a lived experience of mental health, were supported in a number of ways. Essentially we had to do whatever we could to keep them safe.

    This included driving people to appointments, going to collect food hampers with them, advocating on our employees behalf with banks and landlords, holding on the phone with them to Centrelink (for hours!), and keeping in regular to contact to make sure everyone was getting through as best they could. We didn’t rest until everyone had been connected with some kind of income stream – whether that be Jobseeker, Jobkeeper, or the Disability Pension.

    1. The second consideration was survival. Thankfully, due to our contracts in the less impacted health sector, but also because of a recent move to diversify away from being so reliant on the accommodation market, Vanguard was able to face the immediate wave and move through with a base level of production. This allowed the business to take a short breath and focus on the next steps.

    This meant we could focus on the discretionary/controllable areas of our operations to reduce the impact of ongoing costs and try to mitigate the pain.

    At this stage Vanguard was also offered incredible support from some of our funding partners, such as The John Villiers Foundation, The Paul Ramsay Foundation, Hand Heart Pocket, and the Douglas Family Foundation. Additionally, and thanks to a wonderful relationship with our commercial banker, we were able to utilise payment subsidies through Westpac.

    These organisations proactively reached out to us to see what they could do to get us through. Without them, our road to recovery would have been significantly more challenging.

    Whilst, like everyone, we try to work out what the ‘new normal’ is, things are moving in the right direction, and we’re not sitting still. Volume is starting to recover, with eased travel restrictions, and an increase in elective surgery from our health partners.

    Hopefully, this will continue with more restrictions being lifted. On June 12, families will be allowed to travel again and holiday within Queensland, which will make a huge impact in the accommodation sector.

    We have taken a couple of lessons from this crisis, which will place Vanguard in good stead as we look to the future.

    • A reminder of what our core focus is, and what our key assets are – our people. It is the reason why Vanguard exists, and one we are very proud to have put as a top priority during recent times.
    • The importance of taking a step back and planning, not just for the now, but also for the soon to come. One thing the Vanguard team did not face at any point of the last few months was panic. This allowed us to calmly approach each problem as it arose, and discuss a solution, and collectively move forward.
    • Rather than retreating, we are looking to grow. We are bringing new people into our team who are going to equip our staff to reskill and create new opportunities for them to work in businesses within our community.

    Through hard work and out of the box thinking, we can get our entire workforce back to work in the next 12 months – either at Vanguard or somewhere else.

    We endeavour to battle through, put our arms (socially distanced of course) around our staff, even those who have been let go, to ensure Vanguard is stronger than ever in the post COVID world.

  • 31 August 2020 1:48 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    Nice Coffee Co. – Adapting to Change

    I have always been told the importance of staying nimble and the ability to pivot to meet the ever-changing market – especially for a startup in the social enterprise space. But I never thought we would be applying these very principles only 12 months into launching Nice Coffee Co.

    We founded the enterprise to give offices and organisations across Australia the opportunity to support school projects through the coffee they drink every day. Using the profits from our coffee and machines supplied to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, in 2019 we managed to re-build St Johns School in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum – not far from where my family lives.

    However, as COVID-19 swept the globe and offices made the switch to working from home, we found a 80% drop in orders. We couldn’t ride out the wave of Coronavirus as we knew it was places like Kibera that are hit the hardest in these times. Our team had been discussing a coffee at home model for a few months, but this was the perfect chance to develop and launch it. A new coffee delivered monthly, and for every household that signs up, we are able to provide 125 days of high-school education.

    Looking back, we never would’ve thought that a global pandemic would completely change the game for a given period of time. As this is just the start of our social entrepreneurial journey – it’s been a great learning curve which might just help us in the decades to come. We would also like to thank Minter Ellison and Social Traders for their assistance in these times. 

    For anyone interested in getting involved or signing up, head to or shoot us an email to

    Jim Chapman, Founder

  • 31 August 2020 1:46 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    “Oh, we are in big trouble here.”

    These were the first few words that went through my mind when restrictions started to be put in place. From businesses being forced to work from home, all the way through to schools closing their doors. Our revenue for the foreseeable future had all but been lost.

    However, my words were not directed towards my business, my first initial thoughts were for all of humanity – we’re all in big trouble here. The proposed restrictions brought with them exponential levels of social distancing and self-isolation. A cocktail of all the wrong ingredients and one that is going to leave us all with a terrible hangover.

    It was with this realisation that I stumbled across the notion that perhaps my focus had shifted from where I started. You see, I entered the mental health and human connection space many years ago with an insatiable passion and drive to develop stronger connections between community members. I envisioned doing this by providing proactive support and platforms for society to make sure no one feels isolated and alone.

    However, over the years my energy had shifted from the charitable organisation into the commercial facing business and all the many overheads and KPIs that needed to be met. Instead of counting impact, I was counting invoices due and money in. The equation was never quite balancing which led me to chase the next shiny object in an effort to save our business and our mission. While in the meantime the charity sat there idle, an impact-lead, highly engaged and purposefully driven vehicle sitting in the garage.

    It wasn’t until the revenue dried up due to COVID-19 and the lack of SME’s and schools who either needed or could afford our workshops and programs that I thought back to my first feeling of ‘oh, we are in big trouble here’ and this time it was in direct relation to my business. Decisions needed to be made and they needed to be made then and there.

    Like the flick of a switch, the choice to shut down the commercial business was made. This allowed us to put all of our energy and resources back into the charity, where they belong. Capital and time invested would now be redeployed into the foundation. An exciting opportunity to forge deep ties with our initial mission of bringing communities together to develop psychological resilience and emotional wellbeing.

    Like all things in life, what you look for you will find. If you look for stories of devastation and hurt right now across the globe you will have no trouble finding them, on a mass scale. On the other hand, not to discredit or shy from those that are hurting, if you look for stories of hope and positivity you will still find your fair share of these stories as well.

    You see, for most of us our vision hasn’t changed, especially those in the social enterprise space, we are still driven by purpose and outcomes not associated with profit. If we look at the word ‘pivot’ from an anatomical position it essentially means to rotate, to change direction. I would hope for most of us, we have not changed our overarching mission and the destination we are headed. Rather than a change in direction, we have simply changed the vehicle in which we are travelling. For the Human Connection Project, we have made some large structural changes, gone through days where we had lost hope and experienced many moments where we were overcome with anxiety and fear for what might happen. However, we made hard decisions, realigned with our purpose and are now more energised and driven than ever before. Not driven to meet due dates on invoices, albeit they are still there, but driven to impact and save more lives and it’s a very, very good feeling.

    If you are experiencing tough times right now, be it personally or in your business, know this – We will get through this and the world we go back to will never be the same, nor should we want it to. The old world was never normal, we now have the opportunity to reshape what normal looks like. A world of giving, impact and the realisation … #howgoodsliving. This is at the heart of positive psychology. Fixing what is wrong does not automatically lead to wellbeing. We must not remove stress, rather understand how to manage it. This is our key to overall wellbeing and the key to our happiness.

    “Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive” – Martin Seligman

  • 31 August 2020 1:38 PM | QSEC Admin (Administrator)

    We saw COVID-19 have its effect on local’s and the services which supported them. Scaling back services and working from home were necessary protective health practices but created further uncertainty in an already uncertain future. That’s why it was important to us here at Substation 33 to keep our doors open, as we see ourselves as an essential service in the Logan community. Substation is a place where people can come, be included, find a friendly face, share what’s going on for them and get involved in some work or upskilling. We thought it was important to provide a sense of normality for our volunteers and be a source of reliable information. We knew we had made the right decision when after the Work for the Dole work requirements ceased and social distancing was recommended – many of our volunteers chose to continue to come down and volunteer independently of their requirements.

    Needing to keep our dedicated volunteers and staff safe, we set up designing and creating a handwashing station using recycled materials such as a sewing machine peddle, sink, hose and metal barrel. Standing in line, adhering to social distancing requirements, giving each other handwashing tips began to be our own conversations around the water cooler, offering much needed social supports during a scary and isolating time. We also provided safety upgrades to the YFS (Youth and Family Services) head office, installing a clear protective barrier from repurposed perspex which started its life as part of a flat-screen TV donated to Substation 33.

    Quickly, we realized that completing school work from home was going to be difficult for some local families. After offering $100 refurbished desktop computers on our Facebook ( page we’ve reached 59,048 people and had 1,828 reactions, comments and shares since the 1st of April. We don’t know what ‘going viral’ is but this could be pretty close in Logan! To date we’ve delivered 3004 computers to families in Logan, allowing 600+ children to be online – that very night, learning from home. We’ve had some fantastic community partners who have sponsored computers for families in need or distributed to their own families including Logan Together, Logan City Council, Access Community Services, YFS, Gunya Meta Inc, Logan East Community Neighbourhood Association, The Family Place, Village Connect – Hosanna Logan City,Beenleigh Housing Development Company, Logan Youth Foyer Support Service and the Rotary Club of Logan. It has been amazing to see local services and organisations coming together to make sure children don’t fall behind with their school work.

    We heard from volunteers how it was increasingly difficult to obtain regular groceries items and they were forced to purchase more expense brands on already decreased funds. We have been thrilled to offer additional OzHarvest deliveries every 1-2 days so volunteers at Substation and families supported by YFS can have access to fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. Items also contributed to the Logan Community Recovery Hotline where locals could request assistance if they needed to self-isolate. A crowd favourite has been the pallet of high end chocolates – just in time for Mothers Day!

    The last 8 weeks have been tough and things at time have seemed shaky but this community is resilient. In line with Substatons ethos of a circular economy, our social enterprise exchanges the usual cycle of make, use, dispose in favour of recycling, skills and innovation. Providing an alternative option for electronic waste we empower people to develop skills, be part of a community and find new solutions to old problems.

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