Thank You Thursday: Less Plastics, More Boomerangs

On the weekend, Western Australia and Queensland introduced state-wide bans on thin plastic bags, joining Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania and South Australia – who was first to ban the bags almost 10 years ago now. We’re hoping Victoria and NSW will follow suit soon as some of the biggest retailers also introduced national bans. Billions of single-use plastic bags are given out at major retailers across the country and millions end up in landfill, or damaging the environment in other ways.

There’s been one little non-profit that has been working to reduce plastic bags for a few years, and with these recent bans, things are really heating up for them. Boomerang Bags works to reduce the use of plastic bags by engaging local communities in the making of Boomerang Bags – community made, using recycled materials.

Businesses and shops in towns and suburbs across the country have been introducing Boomerang Bags in the hundreds. The idea is then that customers treat them like boomerangs, using them to take their purchases home and then bringing bags back to the store another day.

Boomerang Bags began on the Gold Coast in 2013. Two locals, Tania Potts and Jordyn de Boer, wanted to do something about reducing the number of plastic bags in their local beachside community of Burleigh Heads. Today there are hundreds of Boomerang Bag communities across the country and has expanded internationally now as well.

Boomerang Bags are a simple, yet meaningful way to connect with others in just four easy steps…

  1. Connect to a bag community or start your own
  2. Collect materials – scrap materials, old quilts, table cloths are great
  3. Make the bags – get together with your group and get sewing
  4. Put them to use again, and again, and again!

Have a watch of this short video…

 

While plastic bags are not the only problematic materials creating havoc with our environment – and most notably sea life such as fish, whales and turtles – reducing the usage of plastic bags is a great first step as a country we can do in reducing our waste. And it’s been so fabulous to have the team at Boomerang Bags – and the many communities of volunteers around the country – making headway with this journey.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Fish Community Solutions Hummingbird House

Thank You Thursday: A Home for Hummingbirds

Supporting a loved one with a life-limiting condition or through palliative care is hard on any family. It’s emotional and physically draining. But what about when the person with the life-limiting condition is a child? Your child. And in addition to supporting your one sick child, you must still love and care for your other children. And what about your job; what happens to that? How will this affect your financial situation? Sadly this is the reality for about 3,700 families across Queensland today.

And at the heart of one of those families, are foster parents, Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam, who about ten years ago fostered a little girl with a life-limiting condition. Among transplants and surgeries, they provided love and care, but the stress, emotional and financial, was great. They tried to reach out for support, perhaps some respite at a hospice, but no such place existed in Queensland.

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That’s when Paul and Gabrielle made the decision to do something to change that. And that decision would be the conception of Hummingbird House – Queensland’s first children’s hospice and only the third in Australia.

Gabrielle recently shared their story at a TEDx talk which you can view here:

Hummingbird House has been created to provide world-class respite and end of life care for children with a life-limiting condition and their families, and to help families discover moments and create memories to last a lifetime.

Despite its small size and fragility a hummingbird can be radiant and bright. Many cultures believe the hummingbird is a symbol of love, the lightness of being and the presence of joy. In many ways the hummingbird is representative of the children who will seek respite at this new facility with their families.

Hummingbird House will offer tailored stays for children with life-limiting conditions, their parents and their siblings. It will be a holistic approach for the whole family.

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Later this month, on Saturday 21st in fact, Hummingbird House will be having its housewarming gala as it gets ready to open its doors to the first families that will call it home. And this Thursday we say thanks to Paul and Gabrielle for their vision and leadership in making this possible.

 

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

Thank you Thursday: Hearts and Smiles from Bali

This month’s #ThankyouThursday is one from The Fish Chick archives. In 2014, Bianca experienced a life-changing stay at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage:

Arriving at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage last month wasn’t the easiest of tasks, even my driver got a bit lost. It’s in south Denpasar, Bali, and not at all in a tourist area, so I knew I was in for an eye-opening experience.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

The Jodie O’Shea Orphanage was established in August 2005 in loving memory of a young Australian woman who was a victim of the 2002 Bali bombing. It reminds us all that even out of the most tragic events, truly wonderful acts of kindness and humanity can blossom and bring light to the lives of many.

I was here for almost a week, and most of that time sharing a room with two other volunteers, and I’m happy to say, I was in the top bunk! (A place I haven’t spent much time for many years!) My first morning I was awake about 7am, and I could already hear the kids running around outside. It was a Saturday, but they were already up and about, getting breakfast and ready for school. Some had already left to get to school for a 7am start! The 70 children here range from two years old to about nineteen, and go to nine different schools in the region, attending school six days a week.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

There are some really fantastic volunteers spending their time here, including one very lovely young woman I met, Lauren, who is from London. Every afternoon from about 2-5pm they have activity time, organised by the volunteers. Some days we did arts and craft activities, including making masks, and other times we played games and even did some musical activities. Each day, the children have an hour of reading time, spent enjoying both Indonesian and English stories and, on a rotational basis, with an English tutor also.

The kids here are beautiful. Well looked after, they are given three nutritious meals a day, plus vitamins, and an environment that really is just like a big family. (Or an enormous family – with 70 other siblings hahaha.) Even the older kids that have left in recent years and started working come back to visit on the weekends, often staying over on the Saturday night. Like all siblings there is occasional bickering and tears, and often it’s the teens that are stepping in to sort out the younger ones.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

I’ll be honest, my time at Jodie O’Shea’s was somewhat challenging, but an experience that while short, will stay with me forever. It opened my eyes a little more and confirmed that while there is hardship there is still much kindness in our world.

So this Thank You Thursday, I’d like to give a big shout out to everyone at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage. Thank you for welcoming me during my stay. Thank you for the love and support you provide to such beautiful children. And thanks, most of all, to the kids who showed me that with big hearts resilience can always have a big smile.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Give Simply this Christmas

With Christmas a mere few weeks away, I’m wondering if anyone else has felt like it has snuck up on them? No matter how much time I have – or in the case of this year, don’t have – for Christmas shopping I always like to make the effort to make an extra donation of sorts to a children’s charity or similar.

And this year, given I’m going to be pressed for time, I think I’ve found the perfect solution to spread a little extra cheer.

Simply Giving is an online toy drive facility bringing convenience, cost-savings and appropriateness to the giving process. They do this by partnering with charities and establish a branded page to facilitate a toy drive.

The business was founded about ten years ago as a way to assist charities reduce their costs, increase their donations and increase their efficiency of getting donated gifts to those in need.

Simply Giving not only provides the digital interface for charities, they also store and coordinate the toys in their warehouse before distributing them to various locations around the country – effectively taking the logistical challenges away. This makes it super easy for donors and the organisations who now only have to deliver to families and children.

Since beginning it has facilitated the giving of over $2m worth of toys. For charities in need of sourcing toys for their beneficiaries, or donors hoping to get into the spirit of giving, you need to connect with Simply Giving.

So, this Thank You Thursday, we say howdy to the team of elves at Simply Giving for helping bring Santa into the digital age and making an otherwise busy time of the year just that little bit easier for charities.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Trash Talkin’

Chilli Beach is a really remote location in north Queensland, which takes two days of driving mostly on dirt tracks to get to from Cairns. It’s part of the coastline of Cape York Peninsula and could possibly be one of Australia’s most polluted beaches. What is most shocking, though perhaps, is that the rubbish there is not left from beach-goers because there are not many people that visit this beach due to its remoteness. It is purely rubbish that has washed up on the beach from the ocean.

Thank You Thursday: Inspiring Philanthropy

The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, approved 891 awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours this year, many among them were philanthropists and individuals involved in the charity sector. One appointment made was to Chris Cuffe, for distinguished service to the community as an advocate for philanthropy, as a supporter of improved financial efficiencies in charitable organisations, and to the funds management industry.

Private ancillary funds (or PAFs as they are known) are structures for strategic long-term giving that can offer donors tax deductibility, flexibility, and more meaning with their charitable giving. Since being introduced in 2001, there are now over 1,400 PAFs in Australia and collectively they have more than $4b in funds.

Chris Cuffe established a private ancillary fund himself and found the experience frustrating due to the lack of awareness of these structures. While he believed in the model, he quickly learned it was not that well known amongst wealthy Australians and their advisers. So, to inspire and support more individuals and families to use this structure to manage their giving, Chris founded Australian Philanthropic Services, a non-profit organisation helping increase the impact of giving and build the sustainability of those within the sector.

“The difference between a merely prosperous society and a truly great one lies in the strength of its non-profit sector.”

Chris also founded the Third Link Growth Fund, an equities investment fund that also donates to a number of charities that provides an opportunity for investors to participate in a professionally managed investment fund, but all fees received from managing the Fund’s investments, go to support the non-profit sector. They currently have about $140m of investors’ funds in it and in less than ten years the Third Link Growth Fund has distributed about $5.7m of donations.

Both of these organisations that Chris founded are supporting the philanthropic sector and inspiring people to be more planned in their giving and support of charities.

So, this Thank You Thursday, we send a big thanks to Chris Cuffe for his work in promoting philanthropy in Australia, and congratulations on your recent Officer of the Order of Australia award.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Photo courtesy of The Australian