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Housing and Homelessness

Vanguard Laundry Services officially launched

2 min read

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Toowoomba to officially open Vanguard Laundry Services, a new ‘state-of-art’ facility offering employment opportunities and career advice for people who have experienced mental illness and have been unemployed for over five years.

The Australian Government has also committed to providing $1 million to support the new service, which is the brain-child of local not-for-profit organisation, Toowoomba Clubhouse.

In total, over $6 million in funding, finance and in-kind support has been provided by a number of corporate sponsors to establish the laundry including Westpac, Westpac Foundation, The Paul Ramsay Foundation, AMP, Ian Potter and local philanthropist Ian Knox.

Social Ventures Australia (SVA) was instrumental in working with all parties to raise the capital to establish the business. Twenty-nine cash donations have been made worth $3.2 million and over $770,000 in pro bono and in kind support from 26 project partners. It has also borrowed over $2.1 million from social impact financiers.

Vanguard Laundry Services is a partnership between Toowoomba Clubhouse and St Vincent’s Private Hospital and was made possible when St Vincent’s offered the Clubhouse a long term nine year contract in return for building the facility. The centre provides employment opportunities for over 40 individuals living with a mental illness in Toowoomba.

It is the region’s only full barrier wall system laundry, and is the only business in the region with a career development centre striving to find employment opportunities for the socially disadvantaged.

Luke Terry, Executive Director of Toowoomba Clubhouse and founder of Vanguard Laundry Services, said the momentum behind socially-minded and sustainable business practices is incredibly strong. The groundwork for a lasting shift in the way business and communities work together has been laid by social enterprises like Vanguard.

“Mental health issues affect more Queenslanders than cancer and diabetes combined. Traditional employment programs have a success rate of 14 per cent in helping people unemployed with mental illness get to 13 weeks of employment. Our Toowoomba social enterprise programs have a success rate of 75 per cent for 26 weeks and beyond. We work with people every day in our clubhouse programs that want to give work a go. Social enterprises like Vanguard provide that opportunity,” Terry said.

All dividends from the laundry are re-invested back into the business to create more jobs or kick-start another social enterprise business.


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