All Posts By


Two Ways to Make NSW a Better Place for Young People

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing | No Comments

Over 9000 young people experience homelessness in New South Wales.

In 2017, we ran our first social impact hackathon – on homelessness. We brought together a range of partners, peak bodies and companies and connected them with young creatives and entrepreneurs from the Vibewire community. We had great mentors from, Jewish House, NSW Council of Social Service, SGCH, QBE Insurance, Minerva Collective and Exodus Foundation.

People with the lived experience of homelessness shared their stories, our hackers, hipsters, hustlers and humanitarians “hacked” solutions.

Two years later and we’re still seeing the same or similar challenges. And the problem seems to be getting worse. Youth homelessness has increased at a rate of 92% since 2006.

What we learned through the hackathon process was that homelessness disproportionately impacts young people. And because it impacts early, it changes their future.

Yfoundations are running a petition in the leadup to the 2019 state election. They have a simple ask – make NSW a better place for young people. Sign up and share your concerns.And if you want to go a step further – put your passions, skills and experience to good use and join us for our Hack4Homelessness in April 5-7. We’d love to see you there.

Hack4Homelessness 2017 Report

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed | No Comments

“We may not solve homelessness for all, we may never see a day where homelessness is a just a rough patch in our country’s history … if we can work together to exit one person at a time from homelessness, that’ll be just as fulfilling as if we solved it for all, because in that person’s world, we did solve homelessness.”
— Maddie Wacher, Link Housing

Maddie Wacher from Link Housing perfectly captured the focus and attention of the 80-plus participants at Vibewire’s social impact hackathon – Hack4Homelessness. Run over the weekend of 15-17 September 2017, it brought together a broad range of participants from across the community.

Inspired by deeply personal stories of those who have lived experience of homelessness, shared over the course of the weekend, teams formed, friendships were forged and new businesses were created.

There were community supporters and collaborators from Jewish House, the Exodus FoundationSGCH, NSW Council of Social Service and New Horizons.

As well as real estate property portal, Domain Group, who provided mentors, data and expertise to help teams understand technology and data in completely new ways.

Check out the full Hack4homelessness event report here on slideshare.

The CareConnect Team Win #Hack4Homelessness

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed | No Comments

Can there really only be one winner in a social impact hackathon? Over 80 people worked tirelessly over the weekend to hack together solutions to social, technological and behavioural challenges of homelessness – presenting 9 solutions to the judging panel. We were fortunate to have Ricky and Lawrence – regulars at Martin Place – join us to share their insight and personal journeys.

All of the solutions were of an amazing quality – and with only three prizes, the judges work was cut out for them. After almost 30 minutes of discussion and debate, the decision was made:

  • 1st Prize – CareConnect a solution creating a centralised booking system for unused capacity in accommodation
  • 2nd Prize – Doti a solution matching young people, at risk of homelessness, with a community of aunties and uncles
  • 3rd Prize – shared between Good Mates and Blend.Co.

We’ll have videos and photos available soon – but in the meantime, enjoy our Facebook feed for the event.

Hacking Data to Solve Social Challenges

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed | No Comments

They say that “data is the new oil” – that it is becoming the world’s most valuable resource. For years, policy makers have been capturing data and using it to make decisions – that’s the concept behind the Census. More recently, businesses and social networks have been using data to make organisational and marketing decisions – changing their supply chains, investment plans and sales strategies.

But what if we could use data to solve social problems?

Back in July, when we were first planning Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness – a new and creative attempt to solve the social, technical, cultural and behavioural challenges of homelessness, we knew we would need data. Having run dozens of hackathons and innovation programs for large enterprise clients over the last few years, we knew that data wasn’t just an option. It was THE oil that makes the difference between a good idea and an amazing solution.

So when the Minerva Collective came on board as a partner, we were very excited. It is clear that homelessness is an intractable problem – programs have been developed and resources created. People work tirelessly to solve it. And yet, it persists. We need a different approach.

Last week, the Minerva Collective assembled over 60 data scientists at Stone & Chalk to explore how data may be able to be used to create new solutions to homelessness. Breaking into “swarm” groups they were able to draw upon the public data sets that we found and were able to access. They were also able to register for access to the new Domain Group APIs to find data about agencies and listings, content from the Domain Group editorial team and properties and their locations.

Out of this “swarm”, the data scientists some great ideas to help the the solving teams during the hackathon. These include the following:


We were told that it takes several years for a homeless person to get affordable housing and therefore off the waiting list. One idea that came to mind (but might not be feasible) is to make use of available (and under-used) living spaces rather than waiting for more apartments to be built. I was thinking of matching up elderly people living in big houses/apartments with homeless people who are willing to work and get free accommodation in return.

I can imagine that there are many elderly people in the Sydney area who’d rather stay in their own home rather than moving into an old age village. However, they are often lonely and need help around the house. This is where homeless people could come in. An app could be built that matches up profiles of homeless people with elderly people. This whole process would of course have to be monitored (as many homeless people deal with mental illness). Also, this would most likely only provide short-term accommodation, but gives the homeless people more time to focus on finding a job without having to live on the street.


One member in our group mentioned that it is difficult to reach homeless people and that they are often not aware which documents are needed to be added to the list to get affordable housing. Maybe an app for homeless people could be built with all the important information available. This could consist of check-lists of forms needed, GPS locations of food-trucks, and lists of help services available for the homeless.


Our concept is already made progress. At Refugees Welcome we aim to connect people seeking asylum or people of refugee backgrounds to homes with spare rooms, so that it is a more affordable (or sometimes free) living arrangement where they can have a sense of belonging, be treated with dignity and feel safe.  We currently are doing a lot of this work manually ourselves but envision technology to play a bit part of the screening and filtering process.


  1. Housing theme :
  • Consider how to provide a fixed address, for people to maintain their ids.  (i.e fore Work with Services &  AusPost to ensure that a place is available to receive and collect mail.
  • A co-op body with access to rental properties and allow for price control rental (i.e. Similar to Defence Housing Co-op).
  1. Community theme:
  • Access to unused land for a community garden to grow and farm to address issues of access to fresh and healthy food services and the potential to provide employment.
  • Consider the issue of Youth without a place to call “Home”, young people with no permanent place to call home during critical education period Year 10 to HSC. These are young people not yet sleeping rough, but a moving from home to home. How are these young people identified and what can be done to prevent permanent homelessness.
  1. Identification theme:
  • Consider tackling how people could maintain a 100 pts check with no fixed address to allow access to services such as bank account, apply for a private rental.
  1. Data Unification Theme:
  • We propose a close look at how to bring the various data sources together to give a complete and holistic picture of homelessness, to allow research and policy maker to map, identify, understand & take action to prevent or circumvent homelessness.
  • A visualization of the various issues related to homelessness to be highlighted these infographics/data visualization could be made available various agencies or peak body to use to highlight homelessness

We are looking forward to seeing how the hackers, hipsters, hustlers and humanitarians at the hackathon bring this all together. Be sure to follow along with the #hack4homelessness hashtag during the event.


Gavin Heaton is the founder of the Disruptor’s Handbook, the strategy and innovation firm that helps enterprises shift mindset, innovate products, and transform their organisation. He is also voluntary President of Vibewire.

How to Hustle at a Hackathon

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, The Feed | No Comments

They say that every startup needs a hacker, a hipster and a hustler. The hacker to build your technology. The hipster to make that great tech shine. And a hustler to package up and sell it. For our upcoming #Hack4Homelessness hackathon, we also need the fourth “H” – the humanitarian. It’s a vital role within any social enterprise.

At almost every event we have run, seen or participated in, these core roles are on display in the hackathon teams that win.

But even if you don’t have the confidence of the hustler, there are some ways that you can really make a hackathon work for you – and it’s not only about winning the pitch session.

Here are some tactics you can use to put your best foot forward:

  1. Solve the problem: At the heart of every hackathon is (or should be) a clear problem. Use the Disruptor’s Handbook’s Problems Worth Solving handbook to question the organisers, mentors and subject matter experts to drill down into the heart of the problem and then work to solve it with their help. (Note: One hackathon super power that you should develop is collaboration. Ask for help. Leverage expertise. Take every offer available.)
  2. Make mentors your friends: A good hackathon will have the support of respected industry mentors. These people give up their time and lend their expertise to help you make the most of your hackathon experience. Listen to them like you would an old friend. Remember, that beyond the intensity of the weekend, these are people who can help bring your idea to life. Impress them with your willingness to learn and creative approach to implementation.
  3. Ask for help: It’s amazing how often a hackathon team can close down during an event. The combined pressures of a fixed timeline and public scrutiny can challenge the most confident hacker. As soon as you hit a road block, find a way around it. Tap the mentors. Ask for insights from subject matter experts. Chat to other teams (you might be surprised how collegiate a competition can be). But don’t go around in circles – the hackathon spiral of death can be fatal to your team’s chances.
  4. Divide and conquer: You each have your roles and responsibilities. Get on with it. Let the hustler hustle, the hacker hack, and the hipster stroke his funky beard.
  5. Seek out the best opportunity: Hackathons are fertile grounds for networking. That’s where you put your best foot forward. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date. Bring a copy of your resume. Bring business cards. And when you see someone walking around observing the action, casually ask, “what brings YOU to this hackathon?”
  6. Find your people: Sometimes you have to take a chance – turn up to a hackathon where you don’t know anyone and join a team. Speak with others. Offer to help. Get a vibe for the other people in the room. And track down those who seem “like minded”. These are your people. And together you will do great things.

Hackathons are not just about the prizes

Hackathons are more than just a chance to test out your ideas and win some prize money.

Hackathons are a great way to showcase your skills to potential clients, meet other developers and collaborators and even kickstart your new startup social enterprise. Be open minded and you’ll find that deep inside, there’s a hustler waiting to get out.

Other hackathon hustling tips?

Be sure to share in the comments.

Announcing the #Hack4Homelessness Prizes

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed | No Comments

We’ve been working very hard behind the scenes to bring the right people, mentors, supporters and experts to help you build the most amazing solutions to the challenges of homelessness. But right now, we’d like to share information about the prize pool for the #Hack4Homelessness. Remember, you can register to participate here.

The prizes will help extend your project well beyond the weekend of the 15-17 September. They include:

1st Prize

  • $1500 in cash
  • 3 months co-working space at Vibewire for up to 6 members (valued at $3000)
  • 1 free part time AcademyXi course for one of the team members or ($1,250 credit for each member)
  • $100 AcademyXi Bootcamp ticket for each winning member
  • Premium membership to Social Change Central

2nd Prize

  • $500 in cash
  • A copy of ‘SPRINT: solve big problems and test new ideas in just 5 days’ by Jake Knapp for each member
  • $100 AcademyXi Bootcamp ticket for each winning member
  • $1,000 credit for each team member  (part-time courses)

3rd Prize

  • $100 AcademyXiBootcamp ticket for each winning member
  • $750 AcademyXi credit for each team member (part-time courses)

Conditions of AcademyXi credits:

  • 12 months expiry
  • Non-transferrable to others
  • Can’t be used with other offers

Check out the AcademyXi courses available including growth marketing, virtual reality design and product management!

Don’t forget to register!

If you have not registered as yet, you can do so as an individual or as a team.

Good Vibes with Vibewire: Round 2

By | The Feed | No Comments

Welcome to Good Vibes with Vibewire, your regular dose of the fresh and the fun. The entrepreneur world can be pretty ruthless at times so here are a few positive points to get behind.

vibewire logo

+ PRESSing news — Channel 10, which went into receivership in June, has been bought by US broadcaster CBS. The offer is still pending regulatory approval, but if successful, hopefully we’ll be seeing more creative stateside content coming to down under free-to-air. CBS is home to some great productions (looking at you The Good Wife), and it will be interesting to see how the future of free to air broadcast changes with the influence of foreign ownership. Fingers-crossed that Australian-made and locally produced content doesn’t get the cut! What will happen to our favourite-soap-that-nobody-watches, Neighbours??

+ Look What You Made Me Do, a shout-out to Taylor Swift! The famous songstress has released the first single for her upcoming album Reputation (release date Nov 10). It’s been getting some mixed reviews, but no doubt we’ll know the words in no time (whether we want to or not). With inspiring lines such as ‘I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams’, now we all have a new anthem to sing next time we’re bathing in a tub full of jewels or robbing a bank in a cat-mask.

+ With the postal-vote plebiscite making its way to our mailboxes very shortly, there’s no time like the present for some great think-pieces about equality. Check out the upcoming Quarterly Essay by Benjamin Law, Moral Panic 101: equality, acceptance and the safe schools scandal, (release date Sep 9) for an insightful look into homophobia in contemporary Australian society and how we are failing vulnerable youth.

+ “To read every article the Australian has published on Safe Schools is to induce nausea. This isn’t even a comment on the content, just the sheer volume … And yet, across this entire period, the Australian – self-appointed guardian of the safety of children – spoke to not a single school-aged LGBTIQ youth. Not even one. Later, queer teenagers who followed the Safe Schools saga told me the dynamic felt familiar. At school, it’s known as bullying. In journalism, it’s called a beat-up” —Benjamin Law, Moral Panic 101.

Photograph: Picture courtesy of Taylor Swift/Big Machine 

Forget the Politics – Help Us #Hack4Homelessness

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed | No Comments

Young changemakers step in to co-create a solution to homelessness

NSW has the highest rates of homelessness in the country. A third of homeless resulting from domestic violence and relationship issues, a third resulting from accommodation issues ( including people leaving care) and 22% resulting from financial difficulties.

Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness brings Australia’s leading technology, engineering, data and social impact students, social entrepreneurs and startups together to tackle the challenge of homelessness.

Into this mix, we bring:

  • Leading experts in the field of homelessness
  • People with the shared or lived experience of homelessness
  • Local and international leaders seeking to address the myriad challenges that face those dealing with homelessness.

“This is not just a political issue and it can’t be solved in isolation without speaking to people who are or have experienced homelessness. Our hack brings people and organisations together whether you’re in tech development, social policy, finance or architecture. We’re determined to drive change”, says Susan Shi, Executive Director of Vibewire.

“Young people are disproportionately represented in these figures.” explains Susan Shi. “It often starts as couch surfing away from a family conflict before falling into a cycle of homelessness and stressed mental health. We need to refocus on early intervention”.

Big names, real people

You can’t create real solutions at a distance. Vibewire has been co-creating innovative solutions to social challenges for almost two decades, and it has learned that co-creation – working with the people who experience the problem is the fastest way to a lasting solution.

Jewish House came on board early – helping us frame the challenges that we wanted to work on. Telstra Foundation, QBE Insurance and St George Community Housing are sponsoring and providing expertise and support. Our friends at the Minerva Collective will help with data analysis and expertise feeding into the hackathon teams.

Why a hackathon?

“Hackathons and innovation techniques solve massive international challenges every day. There is no reason we can’t take the same approach to the challenge of homelessness – after all, the current approaches are abject failures.”

Today we are calling out for Hackers, Hipsters, Hustlers and Humanitarians to join us for the weekend 15-17 September. People can sign up on our Eventbrite page. Those who register will receive more detailed information over the coming weeks.

Good Vibes with Vibewire: Round 1

By | The Feed | No Comments

Welcome to Good Vibes with Vibewire, your regular dose of the fresh and the fun. The entrepreneur world can be pretty ruthless at times so here are a few positive points to get behind.

vibewire logo

+ Podcasts are all the rage right now and keep them coming we say; check out On Being with Krista Tippett and her June 23 episode with Martin Sheen, Spirituality of Imagination, for a thoughtful discussion on faith and his extensive artistic career. Did you know Martin Sheen’s real name is actually Ramon Estevez? Here’s a cute quote from the interview:

…what we do for a living — that is, artists — is, we live on the energy of our imagination. Our imagination projects us to fulfil our work, and it is the one sure measure of authenticity, is to use your imagination to explore realities.”

+ Fresh film recc with The Big Sick (released in Aussie cinemas from August 3). This heart-warming, cross-cultural tale is already being hailed as one of the best rom-coms of the year and has a 98% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With Kumail Nanjiani — who you might recognise from Silicon Valley — as leading man and co-writer, The Big Sick is making a big splash towards greater diversity on our screens.


+ A recently leaked internal Google memo has highlighted some of the glaring inequities that are part of the current tech environment — read this excellent August 6 write up by Ian Bogost on The Atlantic — while it’s a pretty heavy topic, let’s keep the good vibes coming by throwing support behind the women and people from minorities (some of whom are part of the Vibewire community) who are working hard to circumvent the traditional narrative and paving the way for change.

Photograph: Photo by Nicole Rivelli/StudioCanal