What is UNLEASH?

UNLEASH is global innovation lab for the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The lab gathers over 1,000 talented youth every year to solve some of the world’s most critical challenges. In 2020, in response to COVID-19, UNLEASH has launched 17 digital hackathons, “Hacks”, around the world.

Each Hack focuses on an issue relevant to that country or region, and is lead by UNLEASH Alumni.

The Australian Hack is a two-day sprint to understand the challenges of, and ideate solutions to, loneliness and social isolation.

This was an absolutely incredible experience! Within just 16 hours it is incredible how much we achieved. It reaffirms the value of the UNELASH community to come together as a team.

· Claudia Coleoni

Why take part?

Gain new experiences by working on a topic that you're passionate about with dozens of other talents from your region—each with strong networks and proven talent and drive.

Become an SDG pioneer and access a community of passionate and local changemakers who can help you test, brainstorm and develop new ideas.

Solve important sustainability challenges in your region or country, and create solutions that can achieve a measurable difference towards the SDGs.

Key dates

Monday, 5th October
Applications open

Sunday, 25th October
Applications close

Friday, 30th October
Participants announced

Wednesday, 18th November
Pre-Hack info session (optional)

Saturday, 21st November
Hack Day 1 · Problem framing
9:00am–6:30pm AET

Sunday, 22nd November
Hack Day 2 · Ideation
9:00am–8:00pm AET

Facilitators and organisers

Sarah Patterson

Sarah Patterson

Sarah Patterson is a General Manager at ThinkPlace, an award-winning strategic design agency. Sarah leads ThinkPlace’s Victorian Studio in delivering local, national and international work, and brings deep expertise in facilitating co-design engagements that traverse policy and technical environments. She has dedicated the last 15 years (across both government and corporate contexts) to improving the lives of Australians, whether through policy, technical or design interfaces.

William Smith-Stubbs

William Smith-Stubbs

With a decade of experience in strategy, research and analysis, William has consulted to some of Australia’s largest governmental organisations and some of the world’s largest non-profits.An active social commentator, Will regularly speaks at conferences and on television and radio about social change and technology. William is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Davos Annual Meeting panelist, a Gates Foundation Goalkeeper, G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit Australian Delegate and the Digital Brisbane Ambassador to Berlin.

Fariha Sarawat

Fariha Sarawat

Fariha is an organisational strategy and transformation leader, who was a lead facilitator at UNLEASH 2019 in Shenzhen, China. She specialises in helping leaders express, assess and deliver the best fit strategies for their organisations and teams through a use of structured problem solving and design thinking. Passionate about health and social impact, Fariha has worked for the Deloitte Foundation in the past, leading their work in Victoria, and also for Save the Children and ActionAid, working in over 20 countries as an aid worker.

Parag Bhatnagar

Parag Bhatnagar

Parag is passionate about digital transformative change in healthcare, where has spent the last 10 years. He is currently a Product Owner leading Intelligent Automation at New Zealand's largest public hospital and also a Board Director with a community organization that operates 21 senior centres across Auckland. In 2017, and 2018, he was Talent, then Facilitator at UNLEASH and currently supports OneDay Health (a solution ideated at UNLEASH 2017).

Ming Siew

Ming Siew

Ming spent 29 years in Deloitte, including 16 years as a partner, providing professional services to clients across South East Asia. Currently, she is an independent Director in a company listed in Malaysia and part of the faculty in Deloitte University Asia Pacific. Ming is a specialist for UNLEASH+ 2020 and was also a facilitator for UNLEASH 2018 in Singapore.

Lee Crockford

Lee Crockford

Lee is a social impact strategist working to solve complex global challenges. As Co-Founder and Director of spur:, he is passionate about instigating change through innovation, design, and behaviour change. His work is highly varied and has spanned mental health, foster care, LGBTIQ+ rights, the environment, public health, and education.Lee has been recognised internationally for his ground-breaking work and approach to social change and impact measurement.

Olivia Roney

Olivia Roney

Olivia is passionate about social enterprise and disruptive approaches to social change. With international experience, she is invested in maximising the impact of agency-driven projects.Olivia also has particular interest in increasing access to quality education for young people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds with her own social enterprise The Unknown Project.

Max Wasley

Max Wasley

Max is a technologist and social innovator, passionate about combining design and technology to solve the trickiest and stickiest of problems. He is an avid student of Human-Centered Design (HCD, Design Thinking) and Alpinism (Kilimanjaro in December 2017 and Ama Dablam in March 2018).With a degree in Electrical Engineering, experience with Deloitte, and a penchant for travelling the world to see problems from different perspectives - Max is a rampant problem solver and tinkerer.


Kai is our resident seeing eye dog in training, and will be the Hack's visionary for those needing inspiration or wanting virtual pats.



Is this a coding Hack?
No, this is not a coding hackathon. This is an ideation sprint to design solutions.

Is the Hack a competition?
Sort of—not really. Although teams pitch their solutions at the end of the Hack to a panel of judges and prizes are awarded, the focus of the Hack isn't about competition.

What if I don't have much mental health experience?
Not a problem at all! Good solutions require teams with a broad range of skills and experience. For more information on what makes a good applicant, please read the Ready to hack? section

Can I apply as a team?
Although participants are split into teams for the Hack (based on areas of interest), everyone must apply as an individual.

How many people will there be in the Hack?
It varies from Hack to hack, from typically there will be between 25-50 participants split into teams of 3-5.

How are teams selected?
The Hack's Organising Team will split participants into teams of 3-5 participants based on alignment of skills and passion (in advance of the Hack).

How does it work as a virtual event?
Hacks happen over Zoom and use Miro as a virtual whiteboard. So a decent internet connection is important.

Do I need to be Australian to participate in the Hack?
No—anyone from around the world can apply to take part. However, please note the Hack is run in the Australian timezone (AET), so it might not be practical for everyone to participate. In which case, one of the other international Hacks might be a better fit for you.

Will there be a certificate for participation for Hack participants?
Yes, all selected participants who attend the complete hack, will be awarded with certificates of participation.

What happens after the Hack?
There is a range of support, access, and networks for you and your team from UNLEASH.

The two days are long! Are there many breaks?
Much of the two days are spent in your teams working. Therefore you and your teammates can work together in a way that is best for you.

I have a question that's not listed here!
Not a problem, send us an email.

Sorry, applications are now closed.