About ASIX

Australian Social Innovation Exchange Limited is a non-profit company formed to find better ways of tackling social problems and responding to growing community needs or opportunities.

Our Vision

To enable Australia’s changemakers to accelerate pioneering early-stage ideas into positive social change.

Our Mission

To build networks that connect Australia’s social changemakers with the right people, tools, investments and knowledge.

Our Values

We endeavour to work in programs and projects that are empowering, pioneering, making the process of connecting people more systematic, being as open and collaborative as possible and, crucially, learning and sharing more about what works and why.

What we do

  1. Run events and forums, usually in partnership with other groups, to promote social innovation and enable learning and collaboration
  2. Develop and test new approaches and methods for social innovation
  3. Connect people and organisations in Australia working and investing in social innovation to support a growing community of practice in Australia and globally

How it all started

The idea for ASIX developed in China in October 2006 when Martin Stewart-Weeks from Cisco attended a conference in Beijing on social innovation jointly run by The Young Foundation, British Council and the Chinese Government. Martin learned about the creation of the global SIX network and was keen for Australia to participate.
When Dr Geoff Mulgan, Young Foundation CEO, was visiting Sydney in April 2007 Cisco invited a group of non-profit, business and government leaders to attend a forum to learn about social innovation and consider how Australia might become more actively involved in the global development within this field. During 2008 Steve Lawrence acted as Executive Officer. WorkVentures agreed to auspice a trial, while Cisco, Media Access Australia, and AMP Foundation provided seed funding. In February a joint forum on Social Innovation, at which ASIX was launched, was hosted by Dr Peter Shergold, CEO of the new Centre for Social Impact at UNSW with special guests Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Dr Geoff Mulgan.
Over 450 people attended. ASIX supported a second event in September 2008 in Melbourne with UK innovation expert Charles Leadbeater led by Melbourne Business School and Centre for Social Impact to explore the links between social innovation and public policy. The seminar included contributions from Tom Bentley, senior advisor to the Deputy PM and Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.
Work has begun on a Social Intermediary Pilot with Innovation Exchange Australia which has developed a service model to enable business innovation through opening opportunities for collaboration to solve business problems or identify and utilise specialist capabilities and underutilised intellectual property resources. ASIX has formed a partnership to test this approach to finding solutions to Australia’s low levels of Workforce Participation and to improving levels of healthy & independent aging. In late 2008 Australian Social Innovation Exchange Limited was incorporated as an independent non-profit company.




Board of Directors

Martin Stewart-Weeks – Chair In his consulting work over the past 18 years, Martin Stewart-Weeks has specialised in strategy, policy analysis, facilitation and market and social research. At Cisco, as Director for IBSG’s public sector practice in Asia-Pacific, he works at the senior executive and political level to help shape Internet business solutions and online strategies at both an agency and whole-of-government level.

Martin has been a key member of the global team developing a new e-government framework, the ‘connected republic, for Cisco’s public sector work. Martin Chairs the Australian Social Innovation Exchange (ASIX) Steve Lawrence – ASIX Executive Officer Prior to ASIX Steve was, for 29 years, Founder, CEO and Social Entrepreneur with WorkVentures, an entrepreneurial non-profit organisation, based in Sydney.

Established in 1979, WorkVentures has annual revenues around $16million, employs 150 staff and places hundreds of unemployed Australians in jobs each year. Over the last 30 years Steve has also been part of creating over 13 new nonprofit organisations, most of which are still operating. They include JOB futures, United Way Sydney, Jobs Australia, Social Ventures Australia. Steve has qualifications in social work and management, he lectures regularly on social enterprise, local economic development and non-profit management. He is co-author of ‘Nonprofits in Business’ (1995). In 2004 Steve received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award for Social Enterprise for NSW & ACT.

In 2005 WorkVentures and Microsoft won the Prime Ministers Community Business Partnership Longevity Award for their 20 year collaboration to bring technology resources and skills to disadvantaged Australians. Steve is a Board member of Currency House Inc, a non-profit organisation which promotes the performing arts in Australia and a member of the committee establishing the Australian School for Social Entrepreneurs. Hugh Morrow Alex Varley Alex Varley is the CEO of Media Access Australia (www.mediaaccess.org.au), a not-for-profit, public benevolent institution that develops and promotes access to media through technology for disadvantaged people. Its current major areas of focus are captioning, audio description and access to the Internet and computers for disabled people.

Since leaving the oil industry in the late 1980s, Alex has had extensive experience in the management of not-for-profit organisations, including senior roles at Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian National Maritime Museum, as well as the Australian Caption Centre. He is also the inaugural Chairman of ACCAN (Australian Communications Consumers Action Network) a peak consumer body in the area of communications. His academic achievements include a business degree and post-graduate qualifications in urban planning, which is surprisingly useful in the world of electronic media! He has written articles, papers and submissions on a wide range of issues, including petrol pricing, social planning, disability policy and the impacts of media policy on access. For fun Alex is a keen football (soccer) player, manager and coach with the Hurlstone Park Wanderers. Jennifer Dobbin