Australian charities, not-for-profits and community groups assisting our most vulnerable will receive more support through a new app providing immediate access to donations.

The innovative app, launched by Australia’s Local Hero 2015 and Founder of Australian charity GIVIT, Juliette Wright, will give all people working directly with impoverished, marginalised and vulnerable individuals the ability to immediately meet their urgent material needs.

“We are very proud to launch the GIVIT Charity App on January 29, 2016 and are incredibly grateful for the support of the Australian Government who provided the app through the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership,” Ms Wright said.

“Our aim is to make it easier for charities to empower their clients and improve quality of life by obtaining the items they require, digitally and at no cost.

“The app is an innovative solution to ensuring this by empowering social workers to match their client’s urgent needs to generous public donations – all from the palm of their hand, and in any location.

“Through the app, social workers can sit down with their client and access GIVIT’s Virtual Warehouse to view a full list of donated, available items in their area. They can also request specific items, which members of the public are encouraged to donate.”

In partnership with the Queensland Government, GIVIT manages all offers of donated goods and services during the recovery phase of a disaster.

“The App will be especially important following natural disasters where access to computers may not be possible. During this crucial time, we expect many local government authorities, councils and front-line workers to use the app for immediate relief,” Ms Wright said.

Australian charities and not-for-profits are encouraged to download the free GIVIT Charity App via iTunes and Google play stores. Charities can register to use GIVIT’s free service via www.givit.org.au.

In recognition of her work to support the efforts of charities across Australia, Ms Wright was named Australia’s Local Hero 2015 at the Australian of the Year Awards.

A year later, her determination continues with the launch of the GIVIT Charity App and a new-look GIVIT website designed to better ease the donation process and encourage generosity.

“We worked closely with the Commonwealth Bank to test and improve the User Experience on our website,” Ms Wright said.

“We discovered there are three major steps throughout the donor journey: Connecting, Communicating and Acting. Our new website aims to direct and engage donors during these steps to help ease the giving process and ultimately encourage donations.

“I am determined to ensure GIVIT remains a technologically advanced, innovative solution to managing donated goods, in and out of disaster periods.”

This time last year I was nominated for Australia’s Local Hero 2015 at the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra and was lucky enough to receive the award for 2015. It’s a recognition which has since changed my life and a year later… I think I’m still in shock! When I get an email from the National Australia Day Council I still feel a pang of excitement!

My year of being Australia’s Local Hero – now in retrospect – was such a whirlwind experience, I still feel dizzy from the busyness of it all. I was invited to participate in once-in-a-lifetime experiences; it brought incredible awareness to GIVIT’s mission of connecting those who have with those who need and vital support from potential sponsors. The credibility the award gave me was beyond my wildest expectations – people no longer think my vision is fanciful, instead respecting and championing what I’m trying to achieve.

I was invited to speak about poverty live on national television, I attended Melbourne Cup, my husband and I met The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles and Camilla) and also attended my first Citizenship Ceremony overlooking Parliament House. I remember this so clearly… I stood there watching families from all over the world come and be welcomed as official citizens of Australia. I remember wondering what brought them here – were they born here? What have they been through? Did they move due to humanitarian or ecological disasters? Did they simply fall in love with someone from the land down under? No matter the reason, I remember standing there and feeling overwhelmed with pride to not only myself be an Australian citizen, but a citizen of a multicultural and inclusive country. I remember that joy witnessing our nation welcome these wonderful people and give them their own sense of pride and belonging.

But if there is one key thing I have learnt through this process – it’s that we are all local heroes. Each person, in some way, is helping to support someone else and together, we’re bettering our country. Through GIVIT, every single person has the chance to be a local hero as we know one simple, donated item has the ability to change someone else’s life:

• A donated washing machine allowed a mother of four to stop washing clothes by hands all day and secure a part time job
• An MP3 player supported a boy with schizophrenia by helping to drown out the voices swirling around his head all day
• A donated bed stopped a child sleeping on the floor

You don’t have to be rich and powerful to make an enormous difference. Through GIVIT, more than 240,000 essential, everyday items have been donated to help someone else in need. Many of these, the donor already had at home. I see a massive movement of small and effective individual philanthropy happening– because no matter what your financial situation – we are all able to support others.

I am proud to be the Founder of GIVIT but even prouder to live in a country where my dream was from day one supported and championed by others. Now, I am championing our Local Heroes for 2016. To the nominees: let this incredible acknowledgement wipe away the scars of the hard work you have put in to reach where you are today. We are here honouring you and hoping this recognition inspires you and gives you that rocket fuel to passionately continue your mission.

It overwhelms me with excitement to think what we, as Australians, have achieved together and the difference each individual can, have and will make. Happy Australia Day!

Juliette x