Lucas Patchett (left) and Nic Marchesi (right) with one of their Orange Sky Laundry vans.
Lucas Patchett (left) and Nic Marchesi (right) with one of their Orange Sky Laundry vans.
2 November 2015

A University of Queensland student and his business partner have been awarded Queensland Young Australian of the Year for their selfless work creating change in the community.

Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Commerce student Lucas Patchett and business partner Nic Marchesi won the prestigious award for their brain child Orange Sky Laundry, a free mobile clothes washing service for the homeless.

Mr Patchett said he was shocked when their names were called out.

“I’ve been blown away by the support we’ve been getting and seeing how generous people are,” Mr Patchett said.

“We are really so honoured to receive this award.”

Orange Sky Laundry began in September 2014 when the two best mates converted an old van into a mobile laundromat which they drove around Brisbane. 

This year they took their mobile laundry to North Queensland to wash clothes in cyclone-ravaged communities.

“We’re now washing more than 200 loads each week,” Mr Patchett said.

“We also have to say thank you to our 250 plus volunteers who are fantastic.”

The UQ engineering student said his work with Mr Marchesi was about more than just washing clothes.

“One of the first guys we helped actually studied engineering like me,” Mr Patchett said.

“But after some bad luck in life he ended up on the street, and that really opened our eyes to the massive issue of how easily homelessness can happen.

“We really want to start a national conversation.”

In just over a year, services have expanded rapidly, with four vans now running in Brisbane as well as the Gold Coast and in Victoria.

The pair plan to expand right across Australia and introduce a training and employment model.

Mr Patchett and Mr Marchesi are now in the running for Young Australian of the Year 2016.

Another UQ student, Tasman Bain, was also a Queensland Young Australian of the Year finalist.

The UQ humanities student has founded a youth-led women’s rights initiative in Papua New Guinea, served as a youth ambassador to UNICEF and volunteered for many charitable organisations.

Mr Bain was unable to attend the ceremony as he is in New York interning with the United Nations.

Media: Casey Fung,, +61 7 3346 7887.