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Australia’s Most Innovative Solutions to Social Challenges

24 November 2010 at 3:16 pm
Staff Reporter
Eight of the most innovative approaches to social challenges in Australia will share in $1 million as the winners of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation’s Bold Ideas Better Lives Challenge.

Staff Reporter | 24 November 2010 at 3:16 pm


Australia’s Most Innovative Solutions to Social Challenges
24 November 2010 at 3:16 pm

Eight of the most innovative approaches to social challenges in Australia will share in $1 million as the winners of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation’s Bold Ideas Better Lives Challenge.

Over 250 innovate ideas were submitted to the Bold Ideas Better Lives Challenge, which provides $1 million of investment to be shared between the winning projects and builds on the idea that the people and communities affected by a particular social issue are often the best architects of possible solutions.

2010 is the inaugural year for The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), a Not for Profit ‘centre of excellence’ for social innovation in Australia. And the organisation can be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed at the response to the Bold Ideas Better Lives Challenge, which saw 258 projects apply to take part.

The Bold Ideas, Better Lives Challenge is similar to The Crunch challenge – a $1 million social enterprise capacity building investment challenge, however to take part in the Crunch you must be a social enterprise, and based in Victoria.

Erin Green, TACSI’s Program Manager, says applications for the Bold Idea, Better Lives Challenge came in from every state and territory in Australia, from deep in the Northern Territory to small farms in Tasmania.

The response proves that new ideas and approaches to social challenges certainly aren’t confined to the city. Green recalls a phone call with one applicant from a remote area, who asked if they could call back in an hour after they had climbed to the top of a nearby hill to get better phone reception.

Green says the Challenge is part of an international movement toward crowd-sourcing solutions to social problems – of looking to society for innovative solutions to many of the problems that society faces.

Social innovation is a huge area says Green, as it covers all areas of human need, however TACSI had 3 broad criteria for judging applications – innovation, impact and implementation.

Green says many worthy projects addressing serious social issues were entered however they were continuations of work that was already being done. She says what really stood out – and what they were looking for – was new and innovative approaching to social problems.

The next phase of the challenge involves each of the projects testing out their solutions in practice, with the support of TACSI and their network of mentors and capacity builders.

Green says the projects will become case studies telling the story of social innovation in Australia, and she hopes this will introduce the projects to audiences that they wouldn’t have been exposed to previously. She says they are just as interested in seeing what doesn’t work as what does and learning from that.

The funding for the challenge in 2010 came from TACSI’s seed funding from the South Australian Government.
TACSI is keen to see the challenge run again, perhaps in 2012, but funding will need to be found from another source.

Green says it will be interesting to run the challenge around a particular social issue – a challenge calling for innovative ideas to a particular problem.

The Winners

The eight winners of the Bold Ideas Better Lives Challenge are:

Aged Care Digital Lifestyles – Engaging older people with technology to improve their quality of life in aged care facilities.

Imagine aged care residents ‘chilling out’ in front of their laptops having a live video chat with their grandchildren, surfing the web for information.

There are currently over 800,000 Australians living in aged care facilities – a number that will increase dramatically over the next 40 years.

Aged Care, Digital Lifestyles offers a new approach to improving the social, cultural, intellectual and emotional experiences of people in residential aged care.

AroundYou – Connecting people with their local neighbourhood and building community through events, activities and services online and in mobile devices.

AroundYou is a free, open-access application developed to help people connect with their community. Simply type in a suburb or postcode and you can find out what’s happening and how you can be involved. It’s not just about events – the site includes volunteer opportunities, local facilities, art classes, English lessons, you might even find another local trying to get a touch footy team off the ground in the ‘make it happen’ section. People need to connect with their community.

Employment Pathways for Deaf Students – Creating access to employment for the hearing impaired through development ofworkplace tools, technology and training.

Employment Pathways for Deaf Students aims to close the gap between the work opportunities for people with hearing impairment and those without through the development of workplace tools and software technology and the provision of real workplace training.

MadCap Café, Westfield Fountain Gate is partnering with the Victorian College for the Deaf to develop that technology, employ their students and test out the process in a busy cafe.

Hello Sunday Morning – Addressing Australia’s binge drinking culture and encouraging individuals to take responsibility and change their drinking behaviour.

Hello Sunday Morning, or HSM, represents an idea. The idea is that you don’t need alcohol to be confident, to be yourself or to be an Australian. Alcohol is something you enjoy not something you need.

Renew Australia – Placing creative, social and cultural initiatives in empty or disused buildings to re-engage people with underutilised urban areas.

Renew Australia builds upon the success of Renew Newcastle, which took a city centre with a high proportion of boarded up and vandalised buildings, limited foot traffic and low commercial prospects, and harnessed the creative energy of the local community to bring entire streets back to life.

Renew Australia works to find short and medium term uses for buildings that are currently vacant, disused, or awaiting redevelopment. Using flexible license to access agreements, they find artists, cultural projects and community groups to activate and maintain these buildings until they become commercially viable or are redeveloped.

Sharing Universal Stories of Depression – Raising awareness of depression among culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Sharing Universal Stories Of Depression aims to increase access to culturally and linguistically appropriate information on depression for people no matter their language or literacy level.

Sharing Universal Stories of Depression aims to increase awareness of the nature of depression and options for healing, increase access to culturally and linguistically appropriate information on depression for people who have English as a second language and increase mutual empathy and understanding between different language groups and the broader community around the issue of depression.

Tjungu: Learning Country – Building community capacity and social entrepreneurship with indigenous communities across the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara lands in central Australia.

The Anangu elders are driving a social entrepreneurship project, Tjungu: Learning Country, to build community capacity and address greater community and government engagement to ‘walk with them’ on their journey to sustain culture and improve quality of life on traditional lands.

Tjungu: Learning Country aims to establish a social enterprise hub and microfinance enterprise fund to support social entrepreneurship on the lands. At the same time UniSA and UnitingCare Wesley are partnering with the social enterprises as mentors, trainers and clients – enabling both ways learning between academics and students and Anangu social entrepreneurs while supporting the fledgling social enterprises through their first steps.

Who Gives A Crap? – Turning consumers into philanthropists – a social enterprise selling environmentally sustainable toilet paper that will donate its profits to support environmental conservation and reforestation in Australia and water sanitation in the developing world.

Who Gives A Crap?™ creates a new avenue for philanthropy – finding money for social good – where consumers can support high impact social and environmental causes just through the toilet paper they buy. And what’s more the product itself addresses environmental needs.

Partnering initially with well-known toilet paper brand, SAFE, the team from Who Gives A Crap?™ will test the viability of a social enterprise where the product and the revenue both support social and environmental projects.
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