Technological advancements and developments, new approaches and fresh perspectives, do tactically arise to address social challenges with a strong humanitarian purpose. Social innovations can be evidenced around the globe and it is undoubtedly intriguing  to analyse and investigate them separately. Why? Even if all social innovations try to address a human need, each and every of them exhibit unique elements. For this reason, we shed light upon 8 successful examples of social innovation in Australia and New Zealand.


  1. 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.[i]

They are determined to prove that toilet paper is about more than just wiping bums. They make all of their products using environmentally friendly materials, and they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need. To date, they have donated over $1.2 million to charity and saved a heck of a lot of trees, water and energy.[ii]

Read more about the project here.


  1. Hireup

Hireup is a network of people with disability, their families and home care and support workers. They provide the tools for people with disability to find, hire and manage their own support workers.

When a person with disability joins Hireup, they create a profile describing who they are and the kind of support they are looking for. When support workers join, they also create a profile describing themselves and the kind of support they can provide. Hireup users are then able to search for one another on the Hireup platform and privately message anyone they would like to work with. Users schedule and confirm their own shifts. Once a shift has been worked, Hireup takes care of all the administrative duties like payroll, invoicing, super, tax and reporting.

Hireup has removed the “middleman” from traditional disability service delivery. They connect people with disability and support workers directly. Hiruep users are able to take complete control over when and how they work together. They do not schedule shifts on behalf of our users.

Hireup also costs a lot less than traditional service providers. As a national online platform, they are designed to work at scale, thereby keeping the cost of support work low for the individual. This means they can provide comprehensive insurance cover, industry-leading worker wages, super payments, and tax, payroll, invoicing and reporting services for everyone on the platform for a small fraction of the cost of traditional providers.[iii]

Read more about the project here.



STREAT is a hospitality-based social enterprise that provides supported vocational training and holistic personal support to marginalised and disadvantaged young people in Melbourne. STREAT exists to make a difference to young people who face a range of barriers and disadvantage. They aim to provide a sense of connection, safety and belonging to their young people.

Their programmes are open to marginalised, socially isolated or disadvantaged young people aged 16 to 24 who are in need of a supportive learning and work experience environment to get ready for work or study. They provide a compassionate and constructive social environment with new peers who are also keen to make positive change in their lives.

Young people in their programmes come from a diverse range of backgrounds and situations and generally face multiple barriers to work/training, including: Recent arrival migrants and refugees, Early school leavers, Homeless or at risk of homelessness, Living in out of home care, Exiting, or have recently exited remand or have a history of legal issues, Learning difficulties, LGBTIQ+, Disability, Mental health issue and Past substance abuse issues.[iv]

You can find out more about the project here.


  1. The Big Issue

The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and creating work opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people. They help people help themselves.

They run social enterprises to create work opportunities for people who are unable to access mainstream jobs. These enterprises operate much like traditional businesses, except all revenue is put back into the enterprises for the benefit of the individuals involved and the broader community.

Their social enterprises include The Big Issue magazine, the Women’s Subscription Enterprise and The Big Issue Classroom. They also run the Community Street Soccer ProgramThe Big Idea and Homes for Homes.

Their social enterprises not only provide opportunities for people to earn an income but importantly, to build confidence and their capacity to help themselves. The people they help come from a range of backgrounds including mental illness, homelessness, long-term unemployment, intellectual and physical disability and drug and alcohol dependency.[v]

You can find out more about the project here.


5. Healthhabitat

Healthhabitat is an Australian company with the goal of improving the health of disadvantaged people, particularly children, by improving their housing and the condition of the living environment. The head office is located in Sydney but their projects take place in 200 Australian communities and international sites. Housing for Health projects aim to improve health by improving housing and the surrounding living environment. The work started in 1985 in Central Australia, became a national programme and then used the same principles internationally. The core principles of the work include goals of safety and the 9 Healthy Living Practices, starting fix work on the first day of any project and using a majority of local community staff on every project.[vi]

You can find out more about the project here.


6. Whanau Ora programme

Social innovations based on Māori cultural values are beginning to address more complex and intransigent problems that have sustained a sense of crisis in Māori economic and social well-being. The negative health, education and employment status of many Māori whānau (families) has prompted innovations in social service delivery that encapsulate Māori cultural values. Whānau Ora is one such policy. It focuses on whānau vitality being pivotal for individual members, collectively and individually, to reach their potential. Whānau lies at the core, with services devolved to commissioning agencies. These become intermediaries that work with local partners to ensure ‘navigators’ link with whānau to deliver the customised support and services each whānau needs to achieve well-being. Whānau Ora sits alongside mainstream social services and its navigators assist families to find their way through these services when needed. In its focus on whānau as the site of remediation and regeneration, it seeks to impact on the environment in which whānau live. It offers support to build social, cultural, economic and educational resources within the whānau and achieve physical and mental well-being. It therefore represents a ‘bottom-up’ strategy at the whānau level, fostering and supporting better relationships and connections between Māori and state organisations, thereby enhancing the well-being and empowerment of Māori in NZ society.[vii]

You can find out more about the project here.


  1. Space Between

Space Between was created to reframe consumerism for a new form of green fashion entrepreneurialism as a way of achieving and sustaining environmental and social goals.

Space Between is a new green business model for fashion design which acts as a platform for social innovation and enterprise. Developed by Massey University’s School of Design, New Zealand they will address sustainability issues such as resource depletion, consumption and production by connecting university research and external partners.

Space Between is a bridging mechanism for students pre and post graduation to address issues of waste in industry while developing their entrepreneurial capability. They operate in the 3rd space where students/staff/industry (NZ Post, Booker Spalding and Earthlink) work collaboratively together to provide solutions.[viii]

You can find out more about the project here.


  1. The Manaiakalani Programme

The Manaiakalani Programme and Outreach involves an innovative digital learning approach and framework, delivering high-end digital learning and citizenship to learners in the lower socio-economic area of Tamaki in Auckland. Integrating parental and community support with professional development for teachers and an innovative design, the Manaiakalani Programme has been independently verified to demonstrate that students are learning at a base rate of 1.5 times the normal NZ learning rate, with increased attendance levels and a sharp improvement in on-task behaviour. Manaiakalani sustainably and demonstrably lifts achievement, and the persistent commitment to evaluation and a design-based approach drives continual improvement.[ix]

You can find out more about the project here.


Learn more at Social Innovation Academy

To tackle this issue, We4You together with 4 other partners has recently started a project aiming to develop the first online Social Innovation Academy in Europe. The Social Innovation Academy will be the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation. Why Social Innovation Academy? Social Innovation has been increasingly perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to a better future for Europe and the world, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high-quality training on what social innovation actually offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice. The Social Innovation Academy will aim to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.




[i] Australia’s Most Innovative Solutions to Social Challenges. (2010, November 24). Retrieved from: https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2010/11/australias-most-innovative-solutions-to-social-challenges/

[ii] Who gives a crap. (n.d.). This is why we do what we do. Retrieved from: https://au.whogivesacrap.org/pages/our-impact

[iii] Hireup. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://hireup.com.au/faqs/

[iv] STREAT. (n.d.). Youth programs. Retrieved from: https://www.streat.com.au/youth-programs

[v] The Big Issue. (n.d.). About The Big Issue. Retrieved from: https://www.thebigissue.org.au/about-the-big-issue/about/

[vi] Healthhabitat. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://desiap.org/healthabitat/

[vii] de Bruin, A., Read, C., (n.d.). Social innovation in New Zealand: Cultural values matter. Retrieved from: https://www.socialinnovationatlas.net/fileadmin/PDF/einzeln/02_SI-in-World-Regions/02_25_SI-in-New-Zealand_Bruin-Read.pdf

[viii] Space Between. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://spacebetween.ac.nz/about-us/

[ix] New Zealand Innovation Awards 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.innovators.org.nz/winners-a-finalists/winners-2016

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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