School workshops on the future of work

Ground Chai is a social enterprise that lets cafe consumers contribute to Australian youth’s work and life readiness, in the age of globalisation, automation, and work transformation. Think: commercial sales of amazing chai funding workshops for rural and regional schools and communities on entrepreneurship, communication and leadership for the changing world.


For the past 8 months we have been working closely with the CEO and Founder, Mikhara Ramsing, to develop, design and strategise Ground Chai’s impact, and we wanted to share a bit about the organisation. Read this to know more about what incredible projects exist in this space of helping youth transition to job-readiness, and where good design can help projects and organisations as they start out or transition to new spheres of influence.

Case Study: Ground Chai

The premise behind Ground Chai was simple:

Ground Chai is a social enterprise providing the grounds for connection over chai.

So, we designed a website around two themes:

Buy Chai | Get Help For Your Community

With economic forces transforming work through globalisation, automation and more flexible work, young people need the skills to navigate this new world of work. The Foundation of Young Australians found that nearly 60% of university students and 70% of VET students are currently studying or training for occupations where at least two thirds of the jobs will be automated by the time they graduate. Keeping up with the rapid pace of change is a big problem. For schools, the job is difficult, particularly given the sometimes slow-moving nature of the education system in which we currently educate, prepare and empower our youth.  The space for innovation here, is huge.

Enter Mikhara and Ground Chai. We first came across Mikhara in 2014 when she was part of the organising team for the IMPACT Youth Social Enterprise Conference. Taking this depth of experience, and 10+ years working with youth across Australia, India, Nepal and Tanzania, Mikhara is using Ground Chai in a unique way to connect youth + skills needed for the new world of work + a sustainable business model, which also happens to involve delicious chai.

We’ll get onto the amazing chai she makes, but at the heart of the work Mikhara is currently doing is empowering youth with real skills enabling them to be resilient and adaptable in a changing world. Currently working with schools in regional NSW, Ground Chai is going national in mid 2017. The dream here, is big.


This is where the potential of our work really kicks in. For social enterprises or projects where social impact is important to the values and activities of the organisation, getting the design right is important. Unlike traditional business, the aim is not just to sell, but to demonstrate impact. Part of this includes consistently working with Ground Chai to maintain their website and design presence. However, we’re also using interactive storytelling to document the process as Ground Chai’s impact spreads, and the community of adaptable, work-ready and confident individuals grows.

Interactive storytelling is a way to use more than static design, websites, videos and marketing to tell your message. It may involve games, interactive and embodied design, and any combination of new and emerging technologies. For Ground Chai, the sky is the horizon, as we canvas ideas and look to forms of poetry, art, in-person connection, physical platforms and online spaces to promote and empower young Australians with the skills for a new world.

In the meantime, watch this space. We’re excited for the incredible change Ground Chai is to bring, and as the Social Good Outpost design company, we’re excited to be the ones showing just how incredible the impact of this is.

If you want a workshop for your school, check them out here.

If you want a workshop for your community, check them out here.

If you want to support Ground Chai in another way, why not send a message of support, a recommendation for a school to reach, or any hot tips and events to Mikhara while you’re at it.

And, if you want design for your own idea – give us a shout and we’d love to help you out at The Social Good Outpost.


New research publication on women’s leadership

Research from my time in Hong Kong on the New Colombo Plan has just been published in the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity, in their Special Issue on Gender, Culture & Narrative.

Often at the vanguard of equal employment opportunity (‘EEO’) interventions and movements for equality, it is surprising that universities remain inherently gendered in leadership, with few women making it to senior leadership positions worldwide. While EEO policies have been expressly designed to achieve equality and redress gender imbalances inherent in university structures, it is unclear whether EEO policies practically contribute to this, with an enduring leadership imbalance evidenced globally. To determine the contributions of EEO policies across the international labour market in which universities operate, this case study compares the EEO policies and experiences of ten women university leaders in Australia and Hong Kong. This study finds that more-developed EEO policies correlate with more women in leadership and better experiences of leadership for women within the universities. However, it is clear from a sustained gender imbalance in leadership that EEO policies do not redress gender inequality alone. Limitations of EEO interventions include the narrow focus on aspects of discrimination and inequality and over-reliance on traditional concepts of “merit” and leadership. Grounded within the Asia Pacific region, this case study demonstrates that the contributions of EEO policies to women’s leadership in universities are nuanced.  

You can view the article and download here:

Designing for Social Good

Social entrepreneurs, change-makers and do-gooders need good design. Good design means branding and websites that ‘get’ your social impact and how to show it off to the world.

This month, together with Lara at The Grazing Elk graphic design firm, we launched the Social Good Outpost. As a social entrepreneur and change-maker myself, I wanted to contribute specialised knowledge to design.

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The Social Good Outpost aims to be the go-to designer for social good in Australia.

Lara and I were inspired to create a division that worked with social enterprises and change-makers after seeing first hand the impact of design on social projects. This was catalysed when I worked with IMPACT Social Enterprise in 2013/2014, an organisation and conference that takes 120-180 of Australia’s best and brightest youth to explore social enterprise.

At IMPACT, prior to anything else existing apart from an idea, we had a brand. We had a logo and a website. We had neat, sharp, professional and edgy pitching material and design which meant that when we began talking to the first members of our team, and the first sponsors and interested parties, it looked like we were already “something”. And that something was something good.

Design by The Grazing Elk took us from having an *awesome idea* to running a successful three day conference on social enterprise for 120 young professionals in just 9 months. How can good design do this? It gave us credibility and it gave people a reason to believe that not only was our idea great, but that we were capable.

This is what we want to do for those working to better our world but need that crucial element of good design. We will be helping those who are within the ‘social good’ sphere, whether that be social enterprise, groups who may be applying for community funding, charities or any other folk who would like mentoring, design and help making their idea sustainable. From helping organisations apply for grants and funding, to designing pitch presentations, and from websites that translate your impact, to on-going mentoring and support, this is where social impact design begins.

Extensive experience in the field, combined with Lara’s expert design and creativity, has resulted in the Social Good Outpost. Whether you know someone starting a project, or have your own enterprise that you want to take to the next level, tailored design that understands your impact starts here.

Doing good? Let’s do even better.

Check out more details here


Looking forward to Doing Good with you -Elise (left) and Lara (right)

The horses: Camp Mulga

Part Three.

Having found horses and water west of Mereenie we set up Mulga Camp ready to begin the next stage of documenting horses.

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While horses in Tent Hill had beautiful hooves, neat and well-maintained, the horses of this region had rough and uneven hooves, chipped and sometimes badly damaged. The difference between hard ground which produces good hooves, and this sand hill country which doesn’t wear them down, was pronounced.IMG_4200IMG_4262 copy

The horses themselves, while beautiful, are far from native to this land. A result of collapsed cattle stations and horses let go by drovers or owners over time, brumbies are a vast mix of breeds and heritage. The traces of thoroughbred heritage is clearly visible, as well as traces of Australian stock horse, draft horse and quarter horse – the odd appaloosa and paint colours also filtering down. IMG_4338

These horses are feral, and being so, they do produce problems. In all of the areas we visited that were highly populated by horses, native animals were hard to be seen. Horses eat all of the pickings that animals like kangaroos and wallabies, not to mention the smaller marsupials, thrive on. Not only this, horses have hard feet as opposed to the native animals. Horse hooves can do a great deal of damage to the environment, causing minor degradation and damaging small micro-plants on the ground – little ferns and mosses and other delicate native plants. IMG_4209

At one stage we had about 3-4 bands of horses, over 30 horses total drinking and milling around the waterhole, and in the few weeks we were based in this area of the Northern Territory we came across hundreds of horses. The difference I noticed between horse-occupied land and protected land is clear.  While the practice doesn’t come without moral and ethical quandaries, horse population control is something that has to happen from time to time, with some of the observations made by Chris and fellow researchers showing extremely high fertility rates that are not curbed significantly enough by the flow of the seasons from drought to rain.


As well as being the waterhole for the horses here, the odd camel would pass through, as well as numerous dingos. On our final night, only Chris and I were left camping and our camp was surrounded on three sides by dingos howling. When we could still see earlier in the night, they were only 10-20 metres away. As the dark crept in and we finished dinner, the piercing howl from all sides was enough for us to slip our swags into our mosquito nets – for at least a little, if somewhat artificial, protection.

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An experience unlikely to ever present itself again, documenting the brumbies of the Northern Territory, camping in Mulga, swimming in the waterhole at night with stars above and horses drinking as I paddled – was an immense pleasure. Aiming for film festivals later this year, Chris’s documentary will be completed over the next year, with any final trips to the NT taking place in the next few months. The photography from this unique trip is available for purchase for those interested as it gets uploaded, and the process of editing more photos will take place over the next few months too. For those interested, keep track of things on this site or here.


Part One.

Part Two.