Business & invest,

7 charities changing the country

Emily Toxward | April 29, 2017

It has been said that no one has ever gone poor from giving – and this is true of the Gold Coasters who volunteer their time and dedicate their lives to helping others.

While the Gold Coast charities you’re about to learn about are incredibly different from each other, they all have one thing in common – a commitment to helping those who need it the most.

They usually receive little or no thanks for their hard work, but without a doubt, each of these charitable organisations provides crucial services and support to the community.

We Are Gold Coast is shining a light on just seven local charities that are changing lives…


Bravehearts is one of the country’s leading child protection advocates, dedicated to making Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.

Headquartered in Arundel on the Gold Coast, the organisation has a clear mission: to stop child sexual assault in Australia.

Von Bibra Auto Village is a proud supporter of Bravehearts
Bravehearts Ambassador Natalie Gruzlewski with Bravehearts Mascot Ditto
Claude ‘The Mowerman’ Harvey has raised close to $1 million for Bravehearts

It does this through its child protection blueprint; ‘The 3 Piers to Prevention – Educate, Empower and Protect’. Under this strategic plan, Bravehearts delivers services including school-based prevention programs, training, counselling, support and advocacy for survivors.

Founder and Chair Hetty Johnson AM, who has been dubbed a born lobbyist, helps to drive important research and legislative reform and works to ensure prevention programs continue with support from business, government and community support.

“The Gold Coast’s generosity of spirit and can-do culture welcomed Bravehearts with open arms,” she says. “It is a dynamic city with a laid-back country vibe, making it a unique place to work and also to unwind.

Johnston says the Gold Coast is also home to fundraising legend Claude ‘the mowerman’ Harvey, who has raised an astonishing $900,000 to help Bravehearts protect kids by pushing a lawnmower thousands of kilometers.

YHES House

YHES House has been operating in Southport since 1994 and is dedicated to helping at risk young people including those who are pregnant or parenting.

The organisation assists those who are at risk of or who are already experiencing homelessness, financial disadvantage, marginalisation, social isolation, education exclusion, substance or alcohol abuse or high risk-taking behaviour. It also works with young ones with poor emotional, physical and psychological health.

In July 2014, as a strategy to strengthen services to young people and streamline administration processes, YHES House merged with Wesley Mission Brisbane; one of the largest providers of youth services in the south east Queensland.

FSG Australia

It’s the goal of this charity to build up the capacity of individuals and communities.

FSG, which stands for stands for Freedom, Social Justice and Growth, offers a wide range of innovative services in disability, mental health, aged care, family services and children’s services.

The non-profit  designs and creates unique opportunities that reflect the things that you say you need and want, with a vision for a community that connects with all people and is free of social injustice.

It also facilities community hubs that play a vital role in bringing the city together and working towards a connected Gold Coast that is inclusive of all people and free of social injustice.



CEO of FSG Australia, Vicki Batten, says the Gold Coast is an optimistic city that is growing and generous to its locals.

“There is a danger that in such a beautiful part of the world with so much opportunity that people do not see the community need,” she says.

“From past experience though, whenever I have had an opportunity to speak with successful Gold Coasters, they respond with amazing generosity.

“And what a big year 2018 will be for the Gold Coast with the Commonwealth Games in April and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) roll out in July. These Games will have the largest number of para-athletes ever for an international sporting competition.

“The Gold Coast has a brilliant opportunity to be prepared and offer an inclusive city for our para-athlete visitors. FSG Travel is working with local businesses to ensure staff are informed and their business is accessible.

“We never say no. We never refer. We offer a solution.”

Paradise Kids

Dedicated to helping children heal heartache, Paradise Kids has an emphasis on heart work.This means it takes a holistic approach to address all aspects of the child – body, mind and spirit.

The organisation believes this offers valuable life skills and allows children to move forward in life and face the future with healthy living that includes love, body awareness, understanding of feelings, happiness, confidence, and inner peace that can be maintained in times of change.

It deals with serious issues yet the seven sessions of the Grief and Loss Support Program also include a lot of fun. Children activities include art, storytelling, breath work, stress reduction exercises, meditation, guided visualisations, movement, music and laughter.

Paradise Kids has professional counsellors and each child is supported individually by a volunteer ‘buddy’ trained to provide grief support.

It was founded by Deirdre Hanna and Rev Dr Ian Mavor as an extension of the services provided by the Hopewell Hospice and, while still a division of the same charity, it has developed its own unique identity.

My Friend’s Place

In just over 18 months this charity has opened four homes on the Gold Coast to accommodate women and children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness as a result of domestic violence. In that time, more than 120 women have walked through its doors.

Secretary of My Friend’s Place Kate Armstrong says the response from the Gold Coast Community has been one of extraordinary generosity and the kindness has been overwhelming.


“They never cease to amaze us with their thoughtfulness, support and generosity – it is with the help of Gold Coasters that we have been able to completely furnish four homes, and provide constant supplies of clothing, food, toiletries, gifts, linen, vouchers and more,” she says.

“The level of support is bigger than we ever could have imagined and is growing all the time. Every single day we receive messages and emails offering help, from students to nursing home residents, small business to big, from those struggling themselves to groups organising fundraisers on our behalf.

“Each time we put a call out for assistance, it is met with an astonishing response. Each donation, no matter how big or how small, gives hope to those staying with us that there are kind people out there, that they matter, that people care greatly about them and are supporting them in their own way.

“There is no community like the one we have on the Gold Coast and we are forever grateful for it.”

Rosies – Friends On The Street

This organisation provides unconditional acceptance and friendship to people who are marginalised within the community, especially those who are homeless, at risk, or simply lonely. While other charities are increasingly providing awareness, support, and referral, Rosies believes the greater human need is the need for friendship and unconditional acceptance during difficult times.

Rosies volunteers aim to do just that, providing a community of belonging that is always there. The organisation says it’s amazing what a simple cuppa, bite to eat, and a chat can do to help someone going through a rough patch. It estimates that 95 per cent of its work is funded through kind donations from the Gold Coast community.

Donate for A Mate

The man behind this charity is Scotty Gregory, a professional stuntman by trade and someone dedicated to raising money for seriously-ill children all across Australia.

The father of two started Donate for a Mate in 2013 to help raise money for a fellow stuntman who was having a bone marrow transplant. To do this he did all sorts of crazy thing such as eating spiders, scorpions and cockroaches and downing the hottest chillies in the world.

Since then, he has raised more than $50,000 for families doing it tough, particularly those with young children facing life-threatening illnesses. Just recently he set up another charity, Dream Kicks, with the help of local artist Megan Bowness. They get artists from across the country to create custom-made Converse shoes in the theme of a seriously-ill child’s choosing.

Scotty says the sick children usually get given fairy doors to help them use their imaginations while they’re stuck in hospital beds.

“I know quite a few very generous Gold Coast people, they seem to really rally behind this cause,” he says.

“I’ve also got some contacts in the stunts and movie industry and when actors or movie stars come to the Gold Coast to shoot film or TV I try getting them to sign memorabilia.”

In 2015 he managed to get superstar Johnny Depp to sign a pair of shoes painted up for a child in north Queensland.

“We’re not your average charity; I don’t just rattle a can for your spare change I rattle it while I’m on fire to entertain you,” he says.