Eight of Australia’s most innovative and inspiring social enterprises have taken out the honours at this year’s Social Enterprise Awards.

The 2016 Social Enterprise Awards celebrated the talents and achievements of some of Australia’s finest social entrepreneurs and businesses in Melbourne last night.

Around 200 guests attended the event which was MC’d with aplomb by the multi-talented Yasmin Abdel-Magied.

Winners were chosen in eight categories by an independent panel of judges from a finalist pool of 26 social enterprises.

Each of the winners, hailing from four states, will attend and participate in the Social Enterprise World Forum in September 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Social Traders Managing Director, David Brookes, said the night highlighted the opportunity for social enterprise to play a leadership role in strengthening Australian communities.Generosity_SEA

“Increasingly we’re seeing social enterprises playing prominent roles in providing employment and training opportunities for those most marginalised in society, as well as providing community solutions where the market has failed.  These winners represent the innovative nature of social enterprise at finding new ways to solve old problems.”


The 2016 Social Enterprise Award winners are:

ASRC Catering, VIC – Social Enterprise of the Year (Small)

ASRC Catering provides catering for functions and events to the Melbourne metropolitan and surrounding area. The enterprise sources all food from local suppliers, providing training and employment pathways for asylum seekers into the hospitality industry.

Soft Landing, NSW – Social Enterprise of the Year (Large)

Soft Landing diverts waste mattresses from landfill and recovers the components for recycling and reuse. Currently operatingin NSW, ACT and WA, Soft Landing offers entry level training and employment to people experiencing significant barriers to work.

MYC Painting Services, NSW – One to Watch Award

MYC Painting Services creates employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth by operating a high quality painting and decorating business that employs young people as apprentices and delivers an intensive 26-week training program that meets all first year apprentice training obligations.

Vanguard, QLD – Capital for Impact

Vanguard Laundry Services, funded by Social Ventures Australia and Westpac Foundation, will create permanent jobs or 30 people with a lived experience of mental health issues and also operate an industry-linked pathways program.

40K PLUS, NSW – Innovation Award

40k Plus addresses the lack of access to quality education for children living in remote communities across the world, where there is fluctuating electricity, little-to-no internet and a critical shortage of teachers.

Brisbane City Council, QLD – Buy Social Award

Brisbane City Council’s social procurement spend has grown steadily each year and includes mowing and landscaping services, cleaning services, graphic design, catering, animal welfare, training and development.

Walter Villagonzalo, VIC – Social Enterprise Champion Award

Walter Villagonzalo established the Migrant HUB as a social enterprise to encourage and support migrants integrate into Australian society and become more active citizens in their local community.

Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NT – Women’s Impact Award

Tjanpi Desert Weavers provides culutrally appropriate employment to Indigenous women in 26 communities in the tristate border region of WA, NT and SA.


Winner of the Social Enterprise Champion Award, Walter Villagonzalo captured the spirit of the night when he urged the crowd to act as social enterprise evangelists.

“Everyone in this room believes in social enterprise, but we need to be more than believers. We all need to be champions of social enterprise.”




Read more about the full list of 2016 Social Enterprise Award finalists here.  

Looking for a unique gift? Find the handiwork of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers online at Good Spender.







The Social Enterprise Awards is a national social enterprise industry event, created and produced by Social Traders. An expert Advisory Panel assisted in the design, promotion and conduct of this year’s Awards involving representatives from the School of Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), Social Ventures Australia (SVA), The Difference Incubator (TDI), Thankyou Group, Community Business Bureau Inc, Generosity Magazine, Queensland Council for Social Enterprise (QSEC) and Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA).

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