A decade as a volunteer caring for homeless people gave Jean Madden the inspiration in 2005 to give a swag for Christmas to all of Brisbane’s homeless people “sleeping rough.” Her knowledge of the physical and mental effects of sleeping out led her to design a lightweight, waterproofed canvas swag with mattress, which rolls up to become a bag with room for belongings. With school children, prisoners, and Aboriginal communities, Jean and her supporters have now bedded and given a basic shelter to over 25,000 of Australia’s homeless. The charity Street Swags Ltd was born and, as Managing Director, Jean won community, corporate and private support to sponsor, produce, pack and distribute the swags across Australia.
Jean was the first Australian winner of the world’s largest design award, the INDEX: People’s Choice Award in Denmark and the Queensland Young Australian of the Year 2010. She was the 2011 Telstra Business Woman of the Year for the Innovation Category and recently won a Stevie award, the world’s most prestigious awards for Women in Business, in New York 2012.
Jean’s initiative is about keeping people alive.