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Charity wins 2019 Australian business of the year accolade after 27 years

2 min read
Suzanne Hopman

Social Change maker Dignity has won the highly prized 2019 Australian Business of the Year accolade at the National Telstra Business Awards, held at the Sofitel Hotel in Melbourne. They were also awarded national winner in the Social Change category.  

It is the first time since the awards started 27 years ago that a charity has won. Finalists entered across four categories: Emerging and Energised; Small and Succeeding; Medium and Making Waves and Social Change Maker. 

The charity has empowered more than 50,000 vulnerable people experiencing homelessness to regain control of their lives. Beginning with one shelter for women and children in 2015, Dignity now has 27 sites across New South Wales accommodating up to 250 people every night. 

Suzanne HopmanFounder and CEO at Dignity comments, “These accolades are for our tireless workers, volunteers and supporters that like myself, were frustrated with the increasing rate of homelessness in New South Wales and wanted to make a difference. We demonstrated to the judges that we run an incredible business, not just a charity. Ninety-seven percent of donations from corporates, the private sector and individuals goes directly to people experiencing homelessness. “

We are humbled to be recognised at a national level for the work we are doing in New South Wales amongst a formidable line up of Telstra finalists who are making a difference in a variety of industries,” she continues. 

She added, “We have focused on shaking up the homelessness space with innovative ideas and technology. Dignity has developed our own data management software – Dignity Informatics Systems (DigInS) using 365 CRM. This social impact measurement tool is the first of its kind and enables us to provide valuable insights into the success of the program and data to inform a longitudinal study on homelessness.” 

Adjunct Professor Richard Gibson, a conjoint lecturer in Biostatistics, Centre for Research in Gender, Health and Ageing from the University of Newcastle has been actively involved in the collection and monitoring of analytics and data systems for DigInS  

Hopman said they launched an intergenerational model of stable housing for youth under the age of 24 and older people over the age of 55 living in a community that supports one another. The organisation has worked in partnership with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (formerly known as FACS – family and community services) to achieve great results.  

 “I have always had a desire to help others and have been involved in many areas of community service over more than 20 years. Homelessness has resonated with me as a human right. Food, shelter and clothing are basic needs and until those needs are met it is impossible to think beyond them,” she said. 

The rate of homelessness in Australia has increased 4.6 per cent over the last five years, according to the latest data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing. The latest estimates reveal more than 116,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Australia on Census night, representing 50 homeless persons for every 10,000 people. 

The Telstra Business Awards recognise Australia’s best businesses, provide expert advice, open networking opportunities and help participants gain the credibility to take their business to the next level. 


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