Life On The Job


On the Job featured Jean Madden up until she faced fraud charges, then we took down this page. In December 2019, the charges against Jean were dropped for a second time. Jean is no longer associated with Street Swags. Here is her initial story.

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER  - Jean Madden (Teacher also!)

Jean Madden and her Street Swags

Introduction

Jean Madden is the designer, founder and was Managing Director of Street Swags Ltd. She also developed a wholly owned subsidiary called "Walkabout Beds Pty Ltd which has since closed as Street Swags became a fully fledged charity.

Jean Madden designed the Street Swag after realising the negative effects of sleeping on cement had on the homeless. The Street Swag is a super lightweight waterproofed canvas with a high-density foam mattress that also has room for extra belongings.

Experiences & Opportunities

Jean grew up in a very Catholic family where doing charitable work and helping the community was a very normal thing. Jean saw the need for the homeless to be looked after. "Street Swags Limited provides practical support to alleviate the hardships of homeless people by offering a comfortable and durable form of bedding to every person in need." (Street Swags)

Street Swags has given basic bed and shelter to over 30,000 homeless Australians. That has taken a huge amount of community support to sew, essemble and distribute the swags as well as to raise the funds in order to do it.

Street Swags was started in August 2005 when a need was identified by a lack of comfort and the scarcity of protection from the elements that those who were sleeping rough were experiencing.

Street Swags Ltd is committed to reducing illness and deaths attributed to Homelessness by providing a swag for Australians sleeping rough, and promoting community awareness and education about the disadvantages of the homelessness in Australia. Street Swags is a bag with room for extra belongings, it is made of high-quality Australian canvas that is mildew resistant and breathable. The Swags are made in Australia, in programs that provide training, and qualification for prisoners in Correctional centers in Queensland and New South Wales. Prisoners are taught to sew the swags by Industries Personnel which then gives them accreditation for the skills that they learn and can help them when they leave the prison system Prisoners also contribute their knowledge and experience to improvements to the design of the Swags.

Key achievements

• Since 2007 - 40,000 swags delivered Australia wide

• 2015 – distributed 3700 swags

• 2016 – distributed 5251 swags

• 2017- designed and manufacture of the "JUMBUCK’ - A bed that a rough sleeper can set up and pack down within seconds Scope Street Swags operates Australia wide and has distributed just under 40 000 Swags all around Australia with the majority distributed in QLD followed by NSW.
(Source: Street Swags 2020)


Education

Jean has a Master of Arts Theology from ACU: "what I do now is very much this study in action." (personal correspondance).

Training

"When I started Street Swags I had no business background so all my learning was on the job. I have had some incredible mentors such as the Clayton Utz team and Sr Rita Carrol RSCJ, who have have help me develop my skills through experience." (personal correspondance).

Employment

"When I started Street Swags I was teaching full time at Stuartholme School. The principal there was extremely supportive of the work I was developing and moving into. Then, in 2009,  The Clem Jones Foundation gave a large donation to be a wage for me, because by this stage Street Swags had become too demanding on my time to have other employment. What I did with that donation was, I employed my self and two other women part time and I developed a wholly owned subsidiary company called Walkabout Beds Pty Ltd. This company now makes enough money to employ three of us full time. (personal correspondance).


Development

"The Not For Profit sector has faced many changes over the past 10 years and will continue to change rapidly. As a staff, we often attend professional development opportunities and learn from other organisations.

My career is very unique but I am lucky enough to be friends with a handful of others who have started and run their own charities and this is an extremely supportive network to have." (personal correspondance).


Design to Improve Life

Design to Improve Life

Jean Madden the designer behind all of this [Street Swags] won the INDEX Award 2009: People's Choice Award, the largest design award in the world.

She has also won QLD Young Australian of the Year 2010.


Links:  

ABC - North West Queensland

ABC NW Qld

 

Canberra Times - 2013

Canberra Times


Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)

WWDA

ABC News 12 December 2019

ABC News



TEDxBrisbane 2011 - Jean Madden - A good night sleep
https://youtu.be/bKraW7dCPE0






Activities

Offline
Vinnies Sleepout for School Students... Are you game?

PrimaryPrimary  MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

Personal and social capabilityAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

Ethical Understanding Australian Curriculum General Capability: Ethical Understanding

1. Since its inception in 2005, Vinnies has raised over $30M to assist Vinnies homeless services around Australia.

'Turn away rates at emergency shelters are shockingly high.'
On any given night in Australia one in 200 Australians are homeless with almost 7000 sleeping rough. 28% are children and young people under 18 years and 23% are escaping Domestic and family violence according to Homelessness Australia . While not a solution to homelessness , the Swag provides important protection while someone is looking for accommodation, specially when it’s cold and wet outside. Over 55% of all people seeking emergency accommodation are turned away and over 80% of families with children are turned away.

This particular CEO Sleepout is to encourage heads of companies to really think about how they themselves and their companies could help Vinnies.

Several schools have now run a Vinnies Sleepout for their students to participate in and raise monies for Vinnies. Are you up for this challenge at your school?

You don't need to raise monies for Vinnies as there are other charities such as the Salvation Army, Mission Australia, The 139 Club Brisbane and many more homeless charities but you do need to sleep "rough" for one night to experience what it is like to be homeless and to raise monies for the homeless charity of your choice. Of course, before you start on this endeavour, you need to get the approval of your Principal.

2. As a class group, you need to decide

  • on your charity
  • which day will be your sleep-out night
  • how you are going to raise the monies [set a target]
  • how you are going to market or let your community know that your school is doing this work
  • how you are going to get others in your school community including teachers to sleepout too!

3. Once you have completed this sleepout, you need to create a diary entry telling how you felt, what happened, how you slept [or didn't] and what you will now do to support charities that help people who are homeless.

 

 

Online: Create a VoiceThread on homelessness to persuade other students to help with getting the information out about this plight.

PrimaryPrimary  MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

1. Go to Voice Thread and register as a class or student.

Voicethread

Voicethread

2. Develop a campaign to help a charity involved with the homeless and their work at your school.

3. Look around the school. Like Jean can you see any needs that you could help with? Organise your class or a group of friends to find a solution.

 

 

High SchoolSecondary

Online: Debate the issue: Topic: Should we help charities whose focus is homelessness or address the problem of homelessness differently? Can we do both?

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

Ethical Understanding Australian Curriculum General Capability: Ethical Understanding

PhilosophyPhilosophy

 

1. Using Popplet, collate your teams views, ideas, and research and divide up the issues to your three team members.

Popplet

2. In teams of three, debate the issue.

3. Is there a problem or challenge that you see in your community, like Jean saw in homeless being uncomfortable and cold, that you could design a solution to?

 

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