Interview with Steve Lawrence: the ‘grandfather of social enterprise’ in Australia

It is with sadness we report that Steve Lawrence has passed away after a long illness. He will be missed greatly and we extend our deepest sympathy to Steve’s family.

Steve Lawrence has been a mentor, an inspiration, and a guide to many of us who are involved in social enterprise and social innovation in Australia. This interview with Steve from the Centre for Social Impact is highly recommended.

“This is very special edition of Yakety Yak, featuring the man who many call ‘the grandfather of social enterprise’ in Australia – Steve Lawrence.

Some of Steve’s background and achievements are summarised in the usual Yakety Yak introduction below.

This Yakety Yak is special because Steve was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007. After years of treatment, Steve’s doctors recently told him that his time is short. At the suggestion of one of Steve’s close friends, we asked Steve whether he’d like to participate in an interview to capture and share some of his life’s stories and learnings, and Steve very graciously agreed. Filmed with some close colleagues and families in attendance, this video is the result.

Some of Steve’s friends also recently launched the Steve Lawrence Social Innovation Sub-Fund to further develop a number of initiatives Steve has been working on in recent years. If you’re someone who Steve’s helped or influenced over his decades of service to social outcomes, or just someone inspired by this video, please consider contributing.

You can read more about the fund here or jump straight to the Australian Communities Foundation website and contribute  here. (Enter the name of the sub-fund you wish to donate to and the amount you wish to donate without the dollar sign.)

Steve’s still a very busy man, but he’s kindly offered to try to respond to anyone’s questions if you have one. To ask a question – or make a comment – please visit our blog page here.

In the meantime, please enjoy the video. I hope you find Steve’s story as inspiring as I do.

Andrew Young

CEO, the Centre for Social Impact.”
Source: Centre for Social Impact


Opening speaker & logistics for Social Innovation Sydney Unconference 12 May

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the unconference tomorrow.


We will be kicking off at 10am in Central Lecture Block (E19) with a talk about Social Innovation as Storytelling from Davy Knittle

Bio: Davy Knittle – is a 2011-2012 Thomas J. Watson Fellow at work on a project entitled: Cities in Transition – Identity, Narrative and the Changing Urban Landscape. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wesleyan University, and a documentary poet whose work can be found in Swink, 580 Split, Euphony and Radius, among others. In Sydney, he is conducting research with Food Connect and with the City of Sydney’s Cycling Team.  You can find Davy on Twitter @versetheft

Social Innovation as Storytelling

Each resident of an urban community relies on a key set of spaces, people and experiences to define their city within the greater expanse of the urban framework. Those experiences – in grocery stores, in school playgrounds and at frequently traveled intersections help those residents to tell stories about who they are and how they contribute to their community. When new features become part of their regular practice of urban life, the story they use to explain and guide themselves changes. As we develop social enterprises that rely on drawing in and retaining new constituent communities, how do we build ourselves into the central story held by an individual? a family? a community? How can we use the principles of storytelling to develop and maintain new, strong communities as we expand the client base of our social enterprises?


A few logistics items to cover:

  • At 10am the opening session will be at the UNSW Kensington Central Lecture Block – Building E19 (see pdf map here)
  • From 11am the remaining sessions will continue over at the UNSW Design Studios – Matthews Building F23
  • We will break for lunch at 12.30pm
  • We expect to wrap up the day at about 4pm
  • Please bring your own water bottle (coffee is available nearby if you need it)

If you get lost or need help getting in please Tweet to @sibsyd & we’ll come and find you