Pictured, from left: Queensland Manager, Jody Taylor-Robinson, Orange Sky Australia CEO Jo Westh, Department of Human Services Secretary Renée Leon and Orange Sky co-founder Lucas Patchett

Helping the homeless – a game changer

Department of Human Services staff have raised more than $118,000 to help the mobile laundry and shower organisation, Orange Sky, in their work providing personal hygiene services to Australia’s homeless.

The funds were raised through the annual DHS Games, held on the Gold Coast last month, and from office activities throughout the year, like gold coin casual clothes days.

A target of $116,000 was originally set as it represents the 116,000 Australians who are homeless, with the final tally reaching $118,600.

Queensland Manager, Jody Taylor-Robinson said staff were determined to reach the target but were over the moon when the final count was announced.

“I’m sure everyone on the organising committee thought it was impossible to reach that tally, and they probably thought I was a little mad for suggesting it!” Jody said.

“The previous Games record was about $70,000, but I knew staff would relate strongly to this charity and I knew we could pull something special out of the hat this year.”

Orange Sky started as two young men driving around Brisbane in a van and offering free laundry services to the homeless.

More than 1,000 volunteers now service 20 areas around Australia with 27 vans, washing over six tonnes of laundry every week and providing showers.

To run a van with two washers and two showers costs $60,000 a year – each van costs $140,000 to set up.

Download: Orange Sky Gold Coast transcript (WORD, 16KB)
Download: Orange Sky Gold Coast transcript (PDF, 464KB)

Games Coordinator Tina Carruthers said staff see firsthand the difference that Orange Sky is making to customers doing it tough on the streets.

“Orange Sky provide the basics, like laundry and shower services, but also show real care and concern in their conversations with homeless people every day,” Tina said.

“Choosing to help Orange Sky was a ‘no brainer’.”

Orange Sky co-founder, Lucas Patchett said the money raised by the department will make a real difference to the people they help.

“Every single night there are 116,000 Aussies without a safe place to call home and who are disconnected from the community,” Lucas said.

“Orange Sky attempts to bridge this disconnect with clean clothes, safe showers and great conversations.

“None of this would be possible without the generous support of communities all over Australia, including Department of Human Services staff.

“The money raised will help us to continue operating across Australia and positively connect more people through genuine and non-judgmental conversation.”

More information

For information on how the department connects people with support for accommodation, rent and homelessness see: humanservices.gov.au/individuals/subjects/accommodation-renting-and-homelessness