Vanguard Laundry Service and Career Development Centre

About the Entry

Vanguard, an ACNC registered charity, is a collaboration of 50+ organizations delivering outsourced laundry services to St Vincent’s Health in Toowoomba, Queensland.

Its vision: build/own/operate the largest industrial laundry of its kind in the region.

The challenge: structure/resource a start-up social enterprise to deliver this bold vision. MinterEllison advised the lead arrangers, Social Ventures Australia (Australia’s leading social enterprise incubator), and Vanguard’s founder, Luke Terry, on finance, construction, procurement, property, tax issues.

Features & Benefits


Developing an effective legal structure for a start-up social enterprise with multiple stakeholders and funders

Many social enterprises encounter a gap between the aspiration and the reality of creating a viable and sustainable business model. MinterEllison closed this gap.

The project attracted debt / “equity” funding and financial and in-kind gifts (including land) from 50+ organizations. This, along with the construction / procurement issues of building an industrial laundry, took the project beyond the average social enterprise start-up.

Advising on all critical aspects of the project, MinterEllison ‘s role became more than a legal adviser.

By taking an holistic approach, MinterEllison also became a strategic facilitator and business adviser. MinterEllison embraced the project for its social value (reintegrating people with mental illness into the workforce) and for the clear potential to replicate / scale this social enterprise business model across Australia and beyond.

Assisting Vanguard transition from start-up concept to commercial reality

Vanguard secured a 9-year contract to deliver outsourced laundry services to St Vincent’s Health, a major private hospital in Toowoomba, in south-east Queensland.

Transitioning from start-up concept to commercial reality was a multifaceted brief and MinterEllison provided holistic advice on project structure and contracting arrangements. Investors in the project included private impact investors, philanthropic trusts, corporate foundations and Government – these interests then needed to be accommodated within a not-for-profit (company limited by guarantee) structure.

MinterEllison developed a structure that was sufficiently flexible to accommodate the needs of all stakeholders. The building phase of the project was completed on schedule in late 2016, with the official launch in January 2017.

Key Sustainability Design Features and Benefits

The direct impact of Vanguard’s service is the creation of training and employment opportunities over the first two years of the project for up to 100 people living with mental illness. Ongoing impact includes estimated savings to Government on welfare spending of about A$10 million over 5 years.

Vanguard is demonstrating that, with an enterprise-driven approach and cross-sector collaboration, marginalized citizens can be empowered to make the transition from welfare dependency to sustainable employment.

Vanguard and its cornerstone project partners – Social Ventures Australia and the Westpac Foundation – won the Capital for Impact Award. The completed project was unveiled by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

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Vanguard Laundry Service and Career Development Centre