Social Impact

Hack4homelessness Photos

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed

The CareConnect Team Win #Hack4Homelessness

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed

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.

Hack4homelessness Crowd Funding Supporters

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed
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We’d like to give a shout out to the amazing sponsors of our Start Some Good crowdfunding campaign!

Toby Eggleston, Teamsquare Pty Ltd, Jack Skinner, Adrian Stone, Sam Rotberg, Nayeli Brancaccio, Asher Tan, Nat Swainston, Rob Voase, (In memory of) Habib Barbara, Adrian Stone, Annie Parker, Tom Fleming, Alan Riva, Himal Randeniya, Usman Iftikhar, Adam Joseph, Maya Marcus, Mark Cohen, Carolin Lenehan, Tom Dawkins, Colette Grgic, Natalie Wadwell, Joao Medrado, Martin Hesse, Lakshmi Balasubramani, Alex Scandurra, Kate Powl, Roy Green,  Alex Harrington, Monica Wul , Alan Jones,Paul Wallbank,Liz, Jakubowski, AyalaDomani, Tully Rosen, Anna Robson, Anne-Marie Elias, John Dobbin and Gavin Heaton.


Thanks to their help we have been able to put together a great event and we look forward to seeing the innovative ideas from our hackers!

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Meet Peter Valpiani

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed
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#Hack4Homelessness starts tonight at Vibewire! (Running 15-17 September 2017) We spoke to Peter Valpiani, Chief Operating Officer for The Exodus Foundation, who is constantly working to find new and innovative ways of supporting people in the community.

Getting involved with our Hack4homelessness was natural fit for Exodus Foundation given their focus on innovation and design thinking. The Exodus Foundation has been working in the homelessness sector for nearly 30 years, providing over 3 million meals to the poor and homeless. While founder, Rev. Bill Crews has dedicated his life to improving the life of people who are homeless or in crisis, and has worked on the frontline in this space for 50 years.

The unique combination of free meals alongside the suite of health and outreach services provides a proven pathway out of poverty.  The Exodus Foundation’s emergency health & outreach services supply food parcels, housing assistance, and primary healthcare with the help of doctors, dentists and other clinical providers.

Peter believes ‘making a difference’ to homelessness is “about using empathy to understand the core needs of people who are experiencing homelessness, and designing programs and solutions that make a meaningful difference to their lives.  The challenge comes from establishing processes and procedures whilst keeping the organisation kind. Without constant monitoring the processes and procedures take away from the kindness”.

The Exodus Foundation’s team of staff and volunteers do inspiring things every day, from case workers who work tirelessly to advocate for a person in crisis, to dentists who make dentures that help people to smile again, to chefs who prepare up to 800 free meals every day of the year.  Peter “hopes that from this hackathon, a range of new, innovative, and human centered approaches to responding to homelessness are developed.  We hope that some of these ideas can be adopted and utilised to make a difference to people in need.”

Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness brings Australia’s leading technology, engineering and social impact students, social entrepreneurs and startups together to tackle the challenge of homelessness. Running from 15-17 September 2017, you can register as a participant here.

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Who are SGCH?

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed
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With our social impact hackathon, #Hack4Homelessness kicking off tonight! (15-17 September 2017) We thought we’d go behind the scenes to talk with our sponsors SGCH (St George Community Housing). With over 30 years experience, SGCH are a community housing provider who develop and manage sustainable, safe and affordable homes to create vibrant, inclusive communities. They have provided a place to call home for more than 8,500 people across 4,4000 properties in the Sydney metropolitan area.

SGCH knows the people impacted by homelessness and housing affordability. They’ve listened to their stories and know their families and their pain; “It is heartbreaking to fathom that over 105,000 individuals are homeless on any given night in Australia”.

SGCH were motivated to come onboard as a sponsor as they think Hack4homelessness is an important way to amplify the voices and the stories of people who have experienced homelessness and to shed light on the disturbing link between homelessness and Australia’s acute lack of affordable housing. As young people are disproportionally represented in these figures they resonate with the “particular focus on connecting young people with opportunity. It is about bringing creative thinkers together to come up with solutions.”

SGCH are in the midst of delivering more than 800 new, social and affordable and energy efficient homes, across Sydney by 2021, providing more housing and more opportunities for low income families and have worked with other services providers to house people who are homeless through a number of different programs. In 2014, they launched a pilot project with the Mercy Foundation, called Project Sustaining Tenancies Around Youth (Project STAY). This provided subsidised private rental accommodation and wrap around support services for homeless/at risk youth in the Bankstown area.

One of the great challenges is there is simply not enough affordable housing for lower income and vulnerable households to rent. The sheer length of social housing waiting lists across the country indicate precisely how many people in Australia are struggling to cover their full living costs and survive in the private rental market (currently, there are 59,000 applicants on the NSW Housing Register and this number continues to grow).

In a country as prosperous as ours SGCH believe “it is simply unacceptable that we do not have an adequate supply of housing to cater for the needs of all people in our community and are looking forward to hackathon participants “coming up with ideas and solutions that may give more people the opportunity to access what is a basic human right – a safe and comfortable home”.

Vibewire hope that we can make a difference by bringing together the community, like-minded businesses, government, the private sector and housing providers like SGCH to deliver more social and affordable housing and connect people to opportunity.

Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness brings Australia’s leading technology, engineering and social impact students, social entrepreneurs and startups together to tackle the challenge of homelessness. Running from 15-17 September 2017, you can register as a participant here.

Introducing Jackie Coates

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed
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Our social impact hackathon, #Hack4Homelessness kicks of tomorrow night! (Running 15-17 September 2017). In the lead up, we asked Jackie Coates, Head of the Telstra Foundation, why she was keen to get involved and support the event.

Homelessness is an issue that affects all ages, all genders and all backgrounds. As a seasoned corporate social responsibility leader, Jackie is passionate about “tech for good”, which she describes as the intersection of social innovation and digital technology. Advocating for the transformative power of tech to help solve social problems, (particularly challenges impacting young people) is why she was motivated “to support this co-design process that brings different sectors together to work on solutions”.

Jackie will be on Sunday’s judging panel and as head of the Telstra Foundation manages a community investment portfolio that supports young people and the non-profits that help them. Understanding that homelessness is a complex issue connected to affordable housing shortages, domestic and family violence; financial poverty, long term unemployment, exiting prison, mental illness, addiction, and disability – to highlight just some factors.  She believes “to make a difference, we need to pull together as a society and create better scaffolding for people as they face into tough life challenges so things don’t escalate to homelessness”.

Telstra Foundation is committed to working with non-profits that support vulnerable people and helping to skill up these organisations in service design to drive better outcomes. This includes design thinking, user experience, research and prototyping, and also business design; digital design and product development.

Jackie is looking forward to us “busting some myths about homelessness through empathy and understanding; getting more people connected and engaged around this issue; and bringing to life some innovative solutions that have been co-designed with people who have lived experience of this challenge”.

Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness brings Australia’s leading technology, engineering and social impact students, social entrepreneurs and startups together to tackle the challenge of homelessness. Running from 15-17 September 2017, you can register as a participant here.

Introducing Mark Cohen

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed
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#Hack4Homelessness, our social impact hackathon, begins tomorrow night! (Running 15-17 September 2017) We spoke to Mark Cohen, CTO for our sponsors Domain Group, who has always been bothered by the lack of energy our society puts into homelessness.

Domain Group sees getting involved with #hack4homelessness as a light bulb moment!  They offer an ecosystem of leading multi-platform property solutions and provide a service to help people get themselves and their families into homes – whether buying or renting.  Therefore, supporting our #hack4homelessness is a logical extension of who they are and what they do. It sits perfectly at the intersection of personal passion and Domain’s mission.

Mark is a vocal champion of innovation and capital-A Agile as cultural values, and believes all business needs a higher purpose. He was also motivated to get involved on a personal level as whenever he walks through the CBD he gets “the feeling we spend way too little energy on homelessness within our own community – As the old saying goes, charity begins at home – and this is a problem in our own streets, affecting our own people”.

Mark will be on Sunday’s judging panel and believes homelessness is not a problem that requires a big bang solution – every little bit can help, so “If we can help one person find their feet and get them off the streets, we’ve made a difference to the world.  If we can get a few people who were queuing to get into a shelter every night to get into a share house together, we’ve made a difference to them and the people who take their places in the shelters. That’s part of the beauty in trying to help”.

Domain Group are looking forward to seeing some lateral thinking come out of the hackathon. Mark suggests, “ideas that could be pursued to create finished products, maybe by looking into alternative sources of accommodation beyond the usual sources and by tapping into disused commercial metro land or building with basement spaces that could be plumbed and used, who knows what great ideas people may come up with!”

Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness brings Australia’s leading technology, engineering and social impact students, social entrepreneurs and startups together to tackle the challenge of homelessness. Running from 15-17 September 2017, you can register as a participant here.

Hacking Data to Solve Social Challenges

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed

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.

Meet Rob Holt from The Wayside Chapel

By | Hack4Homelessness, Hackathing, Social Impact, The Feed | No Comments
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Our social impact hackathon, #Hack4Homelessness is this weekend 15-17 September 2017. In the lead up Rob Holt from The Wayside Chapel was kind enough to share his personal journey through homelessness with us in the video interview above. Rob details his struggles with loneliness, isolation, and separation from community and loved ones.

The Wayside Chapel has community service centres in both Kings Cross and Bondi. Each year, thousands of people visit Wayside for assistance in gaining equitable access to essential health, welfare and related services. They create a healing community by breaking down the barriers of judgment and providing a safe place where people from all walks of life are welcome. People marginalised by homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse can turn to Wayside for compassion, tolerance and support.

Rob’s motivation for getting involved with #hack4homelessness is to support his “brothers and sisters by drawing the community into the fold”.

He believes “recognizing the human being – not the alcoholic or the drug addict – and saying hi is more powerful than putting money in a person’s hand” and wants organisations to allow their employees time off to volunteer with their families.

Rob thinks if kids – our future voters and leaders – get involved volunteering with their parents from a young age and can see and share in the issues being experienced by homeless people that those who are suffering now might have a better chance in future society.

You can read more about Rob’s story here.

Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness brings Australia’s leading technology, engineering and social impact students, social entrepreneurs and startups together to tackle the challenge of homelessness. Running from 15-17 September 2017, you can register as a participant here.

Meet Rabbi Mendel Kastel from Jewish House

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Vibewire’s social impact hackathon, #Hack4Homelessness runs from this Friday 15 September to 17 September. In the lead up we had a chat with Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of the Jewish House Crisis Centre, our amazing partners.

Jewish House is a non-denominational, not for profit organisation that offers accommodation, counseling services and other essentials for people in crisis. Jewish House provides an inspiring framework to look at innovative ways to measure and implement new ideas. Rabbi understands “we need to have an open mind to look at how we can do things better and I that a hackathon gives an opportunity to get different young minds to come up with ideas”.

Jewish House are one of the leading independent agencies taking a holistic and community based approach to addressing the immediate distress, causes and outcomes of homelessness, to then break the cycle and seek a permanent stable housing situation.

Rabbi believes “that we should not have a homelessness problem the way we do in Australia and every person should have their basic needs facilitated in this country and making a difference to homelessness is a good start”.

Over the weekend’s #hack4homelessness Rabbi wants to see new ways of thinking develop to “help those who are in contact with those experiencing homelessness – for them, their families and the community”.

Vibewire’s #Hack4Homelessness brings Australia’s leading technology, engineering and social impact students, social entrepreneurs and startups together to tackle the challenge of homelessness. Running from 15-17 September 2017, you can register as a participant here.