What is a Social Entrepreneur?
The School for Social Entrepreneurs defines them as 'everyday people with a social mission. They often have a personal experience of the need they are addressing and many are from the communities they seek to serve'.
Andrew founded Australia's annual celebration of community, Neighbour Day, in Melbourne in 2003. An elderly woman, Mrs Elsie Brown, had died in her suburban Mckinnon home and was discovered by Victoria Police conducting a welfare check.
The coroner later ruled Mrs Brown had passed away sometime in January 2001. But for more than two years she had been forgotten by her neighbours, her friends and her family.
Moved by Mrs Brown's sad and lonely death, and the widespread national community concern which followed, Andrew decided it was time to reconnect communities and build stronger relationships between neighbours of all ages and from all cultural backgrounds. In a 'Letter to the Editor of The Age he proposed the last Sunday in March to begin to do just that.
And Australians did.
Working after hours and on weekends Andrew developed relationships with communities, councils, resident groups, tenancy associations, churches, developers and the media to support his idea. He later gained the support of Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister Julia Gillard as well as national, state and local politicians and other community leaders to help promote the day.
Andrew also drafted its five principal aims -
1. Strengthen communities and build better relationships with the people who live around us.
2. Create safer, healthier and more vibrant suburbs and towns.
3. Promote tolerance, respect and understanding.
4. Break down community barriers.
5. Protect the elderly, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
After leading and funding Neigbour Day for more than 10 years in October 2013 Andrew announced he would step down, commencing a national expression of interest process to find it a new home.
Subsequently approximately 30 organisations indicated interest in taking responsibility for Australia's annual celebration of community. After a rigorous evaluation process Andrew announced he would gift Neighbour Day in perpetuity to Relationships Australia from 1st January 2014.