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The Big Issue announces CQUni team as Big Idea winner

Published:02 December 2014

CQUniversity Engineering students (L-R in foreground with judges) Mattison Rose, Jessica Kahl and Angus Hughes have won the national final of The Big Idea competition.

A team of engineering students from CQUniversity were announced the winners of The Big Idea, an Australia-wide undergraduate student social enterprise competition, which wrapped up in Melbourne this week.

The Big Idea, co-ordinated by Australia's leading social enterprise, The Big Issue, seeks to find new social enterprise ideas that could deliver benefits to society in a similar way to existing social enterprises such as The Big Issue Street magazine.

A total of 40 student teams from nine universities develop a business plan for a new social enterprise during semester two. Following a rigorous series of elimination rounds, a final group of six teams presented their ideas to a judging panel of business and industry leaders including Andrew Penn, Telstra Chief Financial Officer, Simon McKeon, AMP Chair and 2011 Australian of the Year, and Cheryl Kernot, Social Business Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact.

The winning idea, 'The Shelter Project', was developed by a team of engineering students from CQUniversity, Jessica Kahl, Angus Hughes and Mattison Rose. 'The Shelter Project' was a unique temporary housing shelter for disaster victims, made by reusing industrial pallets. Disadvantaged Australians would be employed in the construction stages of the project.

Team member Angus Hughes told the audience last night about his extensive testing period. "I have first-hand experience the design can withstand the strongest wind speeds, having spent a year already living in the shelter, including through two cyclones".

Andy Penn, representing the Judges last night described The Shelter Project as "a very ambitious initiative, but one that we feel could serve a great need in our community given its strength in design and quickness of construction". He was also very encouraging of all entries, commenting "what an impressive group of young people we have seen today. It certainly wasn't easy to pick a winner amongst such a high calibre group".

The Big Issue Enterprise and Community Engagement National Manager Jeremy Urquhart said: "This year the students have really thought outside the square. We've been really impressed with the way they have developed unique ideas that deliver strong social outcomes for the disadvantaged in our community".

 The competition was launched in 2012 due to an increasing demand from universities to engage with The Big Issue and aimed to help students better understand the role of social enterprise in society.

Since The Big Issue's inception in Australia in 1996, more than nine million copies of The Big Issue magazine have been sold, generating over $19 million in income for sellers. The Big Issue has also expanded to include three other enterprises and programs to provide opportunities for people to earn an income and reconnect with the community.

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THE BIG IDEA 2014 - FINALISTS

'M Power' - University of Melbourne
This social business provides mobile phone chargers for cafes to rent to customers. The mobile phone chargers are placed in altered recycled books, which also include a written story from a new migrant. The social business aims to promote inclusion of migrant voices in the mainstream community.
Tours for Change - La Trobe University
This social enterprise hires people with disabilities to create and run walking tours of Melbourne, including (dis)ability-friendly, accessible tours. The enterprise provides casual employment for people with a disability to work as tour guides.
The Shelter Project - CQUniversity
This social enterprise provides temporary housing design for Australian disaster victims using reused industrial pallets, and creates an opportunity for unemployed Australians to assist with construction.
Moving Feast – Curtin University
A food truck based in Perth that collects organic food not sold at markets, and employs disadvantaged people to work in the truck. The employment opportunity is supported by training in in food handling, preparation, and sales, and supervision by a qualified chef.
The Big Saviour – Swinburne University
A subscription based home delivery service, providing customers with bathroom essentials such as toilet paper, toothpaste, and cleaning products. Disadvantaged people are employed to help prepare the packs for distribution.
Infusion – Deakin University
This social enterprise employs migrant women to conduct cooking demonstrations in schools, promoting intercultural understanding. Through the casual employment opportunity, migrants are able to develop language and work skills.

Participating Universities - 2014
CQUniversity, Curtin University, Deakin University, Flinders University, Murdoch University, La Trobe University, University of Melbourne, Swinburne University, Monash University.