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The Quarterly Wash

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A big thank you to all our supporters!

What a year! Lockdowns, infected linen, masks on/masks off and at the same time… staff transitions to sustainable external employment. Like so many others, we faced it all, and did so with determination, a lot of love for each other, and quite often a well-placed gif on WhatsApp! That being said, this year would have been a lot harder to endure without the following major support partners; COVID causing our volume to drop 80% had an immediate and significant impact on the business, and one Vanguard would have struggled to overcome were it not for the amazing support from the Paul Ramsay team, (especially the always supportive Matt Knopp), who mobilised the ‘Sustaining our Partners Taskforce’ alongside SVA (Malcolm Garrow) to help so many Social Enterprises in times of absolute dire situations.

Despite those early rough days, we were very conscious to not stop and wallow, but to stick to the plan.

Increase the impact

So we built a Social Impact Centre to hold workshops, training, and a general safe space for our staff. 

This could not have been possible without the support from The John Villiers Trust, The Douglas Family Foundation, and the creative skills of Angela Smith.

The SIC features a mural dedicated to Tania Crossingham, a Vanguard staff member who passed in 2019 and whose story personifies the dedication and courage of all Vanguard staff, past, present and future.

social impact centre

Social Impact Centre (Opening Night)

Scale internally

Whether it was much needed legal support from Ashurst (Ben Landau, Jane Harvey & Tabitha Vockler), operational laundry improvements (Andris Stepanuks), HR guidance (Annabel Rees & Businessary team), providing money management workshops to our staff (Matt Eames), the list of people on the extended Vanguard family is ever growing, and one we could not be more grateful for.

Increase the knowledge base

Measure the impact – Evolving our THEORY OF CHANGE with Aurora Elmes (now Dr Elmes!) and build case studies with Christina Griffiths (and the team at Urbis) to share our collective learnings with the sector.

Not reinvent the wheel – There are amazing, smart people out there in Social Enterprise land, so we were privileged to learn from, and collaborate with, fellow social enterprises from our own community and across Australia – Look up their great enterprises, and say hello: HoMie, YouthWorx, Sisterworks, 2nd Shot Café, and The Mulberry Project.

Expand to a 2nd site – The wonderful support Vanguard has received from the DSS (Chris Ledger, Jenny Joyce and the extended DSS team) continues with ongoing support to develop expansion plans. Once lockdowns are over we look to getting back to Byron and other potential expansion sites for next steps.

Thank you also to:

Additionally, we have a long list of people who on a day-to-day basis, help us in so many different ways, but with the same principle in mind; to help our staff obtain ongoing and meaningful employment. So, a very big thank you to; Ronan Fenton, Michael Rose-Miller, Alex Oppes, Chris Black, Momentum, Dani Bermingham, Hanna Ebeling, Lisa Waldron (and the Westpac Foundation), Zoe Gatsios Noble, and many more.


From a social impact point of view,
20/21 was a year of incredible contrasts; Vanguard staff, along  with all Australians, continued to  feel the aftershocks of COVID and the impacts it had on them mentally, emotionally, and  financially.

Despite this, the last year has been  unparalleled in terms of the opportunities our staff have taken to improve their lives, both in terms of long-term existing staff  who have grown immensely and  developed themselves both  personally and professionally, and  in terms of the opportunities for new people to come to work at Vanguard and take part in our development program. 

In fact, the reason so many new people have been able to kickstart  their lives with new positions at Vanguard have been  precisely because so many long- term existing staff have spread  their wings and flown to new  opportunities at a myriad of  different employment partners in  Toowoomba.


Like all laundries, this year was tough;
Volatility in the accommodation sector from so many lockdowns, delays in overseas delivery of new stock, and general reluctance to travel impacting our customers.

However, it was not all doom and gloom, we
extended our relationship with additional sites from Spicers Retreats (Andrea Martin), we continued to support some local  customers who were doing it tough  (Marysville hotel) and continue to provide a high-quality service to SVHA (St Vincent’s – Adrienne Leonard).

Aside from these major changes we were able to win a number of other customers and continue to compete in both commercial terms and delivering social value (CSR) to our customers indirectly via the Vanguard Transition programme.

New equipment, allowing for greater efficiencies and overall volume throughput will allow us to put our best foot forward, and see this year to be one of our best.

Thank you.

It is incredibly inspiring to see the vigour in which Vanguard staff have approached the enormous
challenges presented by COVID, and a huge thank you must go to the collaborative partners which helped make their success possible;

Employment Partners like City Golf Club Motel, Quest Apartments, Clifton Hospital, and Range Event Hire helped set up  our staff for a lifetime of  engagement in meaningful work. 

Community Partners like Protea Place, Lives Lived Well, YellowBridge, TAFE AMEP, Cedar Centre, OCTEC, BEST Employment, Link & Launch, and Momentum supported us by referring excellent work-ready staff looking for a foot in the door. 

Training Partners like Strategix, NCC Withcott, and Aurora Training helped develop our existing staff to be the absolute best they can  be. Last year proved, maybe more  than ever before, that a concerted,  collaborative effort  across a whole community and  sector is vital in solving our most complex issues.

Staff Reflections

James McDade

“Get into Vanguard – prove yourself – all good things come to  those who wait. It is hard to get  back into the swing of things, but if you  just take it, hold on to the  model, it’s good, it’s really good.  Don’t look a gift horse in the  mouth.” 

James McDade recently transitioned after 4.5 years to the City Golf Club.

Kay Wilson

On advice to people preparing to begin at Vanguard – “Talk to me  first. I would recommend  everything that’s on offer, have a  go, hear my story, talk to me. I  would encourage them to move  on (transition) because then  Vanguard could help others. I just  believe have a go, give it a go. Be  prepared to grow further and  believe in your dreams.”

Kay Wilson recently transitioned after 2.5 years to Clifton Hospital. 

A big thank you from all of our team.

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