Innovation Awards: Burn Bright leads the charity sector through innovative approach

12 Sept 2018 – Sydney -Burn Bright has just been announced by the 2018 GiveEasy Innovation Index as the Number One Not-For-Profit Innovator in Australia as a result of their influential leadership, wellbeing programs and national camps for young people. Burn Bright finished in the top place ahead of other charities such as Thankyou, beyondblue and the Movember Foundation. The 2018 Innovation index is supported by Westpac, the University of New South Wales and eWAY. to download the detailed report.

Burn Bright delivers Student Leadership, Wellbeing Programs and National Camps for schools and young people across Australia, working with over 15,000 students each year.

Burn Bright has been recognised by the GiveEasy Innovation Index as a leader in innovation for the not-for-profit sector for their innovative workplace culture, for modelling positive influence through genuine relationships and the implementation of wellbeing surveys, measuring the impact their work is having on schools and communities.

Innovating the wellbeing conversation

Burn Bright is recognised as a preventative mental health organisation, providing young Australians with the tools to look after their wellbeing through experiential learning in all the programs and camps Burn Bright run.

These programs and camps challenge students to see how they can use their influence for good, both in their schools and wider communities, exploring the power of positive influence and the idea that every student has an opportunity to lead.

Burn Bright CEO, Andy Skidmore says that innovation is the only way forward when working with teenagers, “Young people are constantly pushing the edge of what’s new and interesting – it forces us to stay innovative. The way we deliver our leadership programs has to be relevant, cutting edge and interesting.”

Modelling authentic team culture

Born in 2014, Burn Bright exists to build leadership capacity and self-awareness in young people and believe this is best demonstrated through their leadership team and the culture and values they model to students.

The Burn Bright team demonstrates authenticity in relationships which is powerful when modelling this behaviour to the students they work with.

Andy says, “For us it’s important that if we’re going to go to a school and we’re going to talk about great relationships, looking after your wellbeing, being able to serve others and thinking about your leadership capacity, then that needs to start with our team.”

Resilience As The Key To Young People’s Success

A recent survey conducted by Burn Bright of young people across Australia has indicated that 75% of young people will turn to their most immediate relationships for help when something difficult in their lives happen, being their parents and friends, 38% parents and 37% being friends.

Andy says “a teenagers relationships have the greatest impact  wellbeing either positively or negatively. If we want to raise resilient young Australian’s then we need to focus on the quality of their relationships with peers, family and the their community”.

The survey also found that the leading cause of stress for teenagers was their school work with 73% of young people surveyed saying it causes the most stress in their lives. The survey also showed that year 8 and 9 students are 5x more likely to often experience bullying than their older peers students.

Andy says “developing grit, and a growth mindset towards challenge is also a non-negotiable for young people in today’s social climate – these qualities coupled with a strong support network and foundation of genuine relationships is the key to overcoming struggles facing young people.”

 Proving the impact

Burn Bright have been able to prove the mind-shifting impact they have, seeing positive behavioural change, shifts in mindset and personal wellbeing through innovative data collection methods.

This data collection has been a game changer in understanding the young people Burn Bright works with as well as providing a unique insight to the schools about their student’s wellbeing.

“We use scientifically backed wellbeing research to measure the students before and after attending our trainings. What we have found is that often the bottom 20% that move the most for the young people that we work with. If you look at the resilience scale, students are moving from zero up to 30%.”, Andy explains.



Continue your student’s leadership or wellbeing journey with our digital programs. Specifically designed to be flexibly implemented into your wellbeing or leadership programs, these courses can be completed at any time in any place, providing a self-paced option for students to explore in class or on their own. These modules include individual student logins, a teacher dashboard to track student progress and lesson plans with follow up face to face resources.

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Facilitator in Laptop Screen

I found Burn Bright in the midst of studying civil engineering at the University of Wollongong, just as I wanted a richer, deeper, more full experience of life.

Through Burn Bright, I have met many students and volunteers who are all seeking to find their place in the world. When we come together at NLC or SLC, no matter our age, we begin on the same page, of wanting to do good for ourselves, our community, and the world. And then we are thrown into a program that brings us closer to each other, our purpose, and how to bring forth this impact. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

Volunteering with Burn Bright stoked a fire in me – It helped me feel comfortable in myself and made me realise life isn’t just about work, study, or productivity, but our relationships and how we connect with others along the way.

I have learned skills in videography, worked for a top-tier corporation in marketing, and most recently published a book called “18 and lost? So were we” 

I have a passion for storytelling, bring loads of energy wherever I go, and am dedicated to helping young people move through the initiation of leaving high school and going into the ‘real world’. 

The best part for me is being able to stay connected to the latest generation growing through high school. To see them grow, expand and express more of themselves is like watching an artwork paint itself. It’s magic.

I am Simon Thurston, a Kiwi based in Perth. I work as an Instructional Designer and in my spare time I enjoy reading, running, and board games.

Since my initial connection to Burn Bright I have been onboard with their mission. Burn Bright’s focus on building the capabilities enables students of all ages to see how they can shape their world through connections with others and their own self discovery.

Seeing others grow, learn, and open up is what keeps me coming back, to help others realise their potential and how they can influence their future and their community is a definite highlight. It’s infectious, the atmosphere when they run a program or camp is welcoming, exciting, emotional, and rewarding all in one.



Hi, friends! I’m Kelsie, a psychologist from central QLD working in private practice. I got involved with Burn Bright officially in 2016, but the journey started long before that. I attended the National Leadership Camp (now hosted annually by Burn Bright) in 2009. It had such a profound impact on me that I returned as a mentor and volunteer. Those connections ultimately lead me to joining the Burn Bright team as an adult.

When I transitioned from facilitating with the Burn Bright team to working as a psychologist, I was so grateful for an incredible foundation of skills (particularly facilitation, communication and interpersonal skills) along with a strong grounding in positive psychology that Burn Bright integrates into their ethos.

I can’t imagine my life without volunteering for Burn Bright. I have met some of my dearest friends through the Burn Bright crew. I’ve found that volunteering for BB is rewarding, humbling, and often brings as much personal growth for the volunteer as it does for the young person.

From a professional perspective, I love that Burn Bright programs/camps support the adolescent individuation process by providing an exciting and supportive environment for teens to explore their own sense of self, personality, identify and values alongside other young people.

Imagine this POV: you’re back at school wanting to figure everything out and fit in – and you find
yourself in a room with amazing music that uplifts you and hooks you in. You meet the team of
dynamic, interesting, caring facilitators whose own friendships inspire you. Their facilitation skills bring about amazing light-bulb moments and lessons that light a fire inside you… It makes me want to feel that for myself again. The next best thing, for me, is volunteering for the team who passes that on to other young people.

My start at Burn Bright is one of the best cases of one door closing and another door opening. After losing my job at a local pub while on uni holidays, I started looking for new opportunities that were different and decided to volunteer. Searching for opportunities, I found working bees, community driving and nursing home visits, but the chance to become a National Leadership Camp intern stood out. Over nearly six months, I worked with the team to pull off Burn Bright’s first National Leadership Camp, and had an absolute blast in the process. After camp, I started working for Burn Bright while studying, doing anything and everything — data analysis, hiring strategy and even picking up furniture.

Finishing up working for Burn Bright in 2019, I am still actively involved with the Burn Bright volunteer community. I’ve found that the emphasis placed on investing in your relationships, understanding your values and making an impact allow you to be accepted for you. This has given me the tools needed to make the difficult decisions that life will inevitably throw at you. Besides all that, I’ve had a ton of fun and formed life-long friendships with people I may have never crossed paths with otherwise. “Get involved — you’ll change your life for the better and make life‑long friends in the process”.

I am a health science student from Perth wanting to get into the mental health realm of occupational therapy. In the meantime, I work as a barista and supervisor at a beachside café. In my spare time, I love to play netball, be around my friends and I have just gotten into crocheting. I went to Perth College where I was lucky enough to go to the first Perth College Leadership Camp in 2018 as a student and absolutely loved it. What really drew me in was the atmosphere that was created, the open conversations, and the lasting relationships formed.

Since then I have been a mentor for the Perth College Leadership Camp in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and had the opportunity to go to the National Leadership Camp in 2019. When Burn Bright comes to Perth I also love helping out at their programs as much as I can.

Volunteering for Burn Bright has given me so much that I could never have imagined. I have learned so much about myself and I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities that I know I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t exposed to the amazing opportunities volunteering for Burn Bright has given me. Before being involved I would never have seen myself being a mentor, role model, and facilitator to students, but now I can confidently say that I am, and I have made an impact on others that I am proud of. I have also made so many meaningful connections to so many amazing people from all around Australia through Burn Bright. I get asked quite a bit why I keep coming back to my old school to volunteer and it’s simply because I was given this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Burn Bright programs and if I can help facilitate that experience to someone else then why wouldn’t I?

I was born in Perth and moved to Sydney in my early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker. This was followed by 30 years working in IT as a computer programmer.

Following retirement in 2016 I searched for an organisation that was aligned with my values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space. This search led to Burn Bright where I am now volunteering one day a week and mentoring at the National Leadership Camp. Volunteering with Burn Bright gives me a great deal of hope and confidence in the next generation of leaders. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Burn Bright family.

I have been married to Denise for 41 years and we both very much feel part of the Burn Bright team.

When not at Burn Bright you may find me running along Manly beach, riding my mountain bike or indulging in my passion for photography.











Hi! I’m Rosie, a 20-something full-time public servant, part-time Tassie tourism advocate.

I am passionate about seeing young people succeed, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching them become the next generation of change-makers.

I have been a champion of the ethos and work of Burn Bright since its inception in 2014, and consider them to be the leading experts in their field. By delivering impactful leadership and wellbeing programs to students across Australia, they offer the knowledge, skills and engagement to invoke lasting positive change in school communities.

The Burn Bright team are dedicated, inclusive and values-driven, which is why I love working with them.