Queensland

Faced with national fame, Young Australians of the Year get back to work

Two Brisbane men who recently won Young Australians of the Year after coming up with their own "cog in the machine" to help the homeless are still coming to terms with what their award means after being "thrust into the position" fairly suddenly.

Orange Sky Laundry, a mobile laundry service that services Brisbane's homeless community, was founded in 2014 by Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, both 21, to restore respect and raise health standards for the 300-odd people who sleep on Brisbane's streets every night.

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The mobile service has since expanded into Victoria and New South Wales and has completed over 70,000 kilograms of washing and had 15,000 hours of conversations with Australia's homeless community.

Mr Patchett said he and Nic were excited about what the next year had in store, but were unsure of how everything would work.

Young Australians of the Year for 2016 and Founders of Orange Sky Laundry, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett.
Young Australians of the Year for 2016 and Founders of Orange Sky Laundry, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett. Photo: Michelle Smith

"We still don't really know what this award means apart from being an incredible honour," he said.

"We have been thrust into this position pretty quickly, it has been really crazy.

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"We have Australia's attention for the next year and we are just excited to use that platform to continue to grow."

Mr Patchett said the key message for this year would be to get homelessness into the conversation and boost awareness of what services were available to those who end up living on the street.

"For someone who is just entering into homelessness there is a lack of knowledge, which quickly gets learnt about and that is where we fit in, because we work with such a diverse range we are able to connect people," he said.

Mr Patchett said he and Mr Marchesi kick-started Orange Sky Laundry having done no previous work with the homeless, which has allowed them to look at the situation through a "different lens".

Mr Patchett and Mr Marchesi hope to inspire others to create unique ways of helping people living on the streets.
Mr Patchett and Mr Marchesi hope to inspire others to create unique ways of helping people living on the streets. Photo: Michelle Smith

"We are looking at this with fresh eyes," he said.

"Awareness is first and foremost, with awareness comes lots of people thinking about the issues and from that thought that is where little ideas can be found.

We still don't really know what this award means apart from being an incredible honour.

Lucas Patchett

"If we can encourage one person to just come up with one idea that could change the scope of this we would be incredibly happy with that."

While it is still early days for the Brisbane pair in terms of setting a detailed plan for the year ahead, Mr Marchesi said they were "really excited" to start partnerships with collaboration.

"What Lucas and I really believe, homeless is a complex issue but really simple ideas like community collaboration is what is going to solve homelessness," he said.

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