UNSW students are being challenged to come up with the next 'Big Idea' in a competition to help the nation‘s homeless.

Co-ordinated by The Big Issue, the competition gives university students the opportunity to learn more about social enterprises in Australia while addressing a real-world issue. 

'The Big Idea' builds on the success of the organisation's magazine, which allows homeless and disadvantaged vendors to sell the publication and keep half of the cover price.

As part of the competition, students will take part in lectures, workshops and online seminars, which will support them to create their own social enterprise business plan.

Pia Galea, Senior Project Officer from UNSW Student Development - Participation and Engagement, believes the competition will encourage student-led initiatives, help foster relationships with community partners and develop students’ self-reflection skills.

“Participating students will form teams to create a business plan to focusing on the issue of homelessness,” said Pia. “Students will also monitor and report on their experiences with the assistance of expert mentors.”

UNSW is one of two universities taking part in the pilot, commencing in semester two. The competition gives students the opportunity to engage with social enterprise experts such as Carol Schwartz, Founding Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, and David Brooks of Social Traders.

“At the end of the semester, groups will submit a business plan to be judged by expert social enterprise professionals who will choose one finalist group to represent UNSW and present their ‘Big Idea’ at the final in Melbourne,” said Pia.

Judges include Steve Persson, CEO, The Big Issue; Natasha Stott Despoja, former Democrats Leader; Simon McKeon, 2011 Australian of the Year and Executive Director, Melbourne Office, Macquarie Group Ltd; and Andy Penn, Chief Financial Officer of Telstra.

Registration for this project is still open. Pia hopes that UNSW will have at least two or three groups of 4-5 students competing.

This initiative will be run in conjunction with UNSW’s Leadership Program and students will receive recognition for their work through UNSW Advantage.

For more information visit UNSW’s Student Hub or email leadership@unsw.edu.au

Media Contact: Lesley Teoh | UNSW Media Office | 02 9385 8920