Why I love running RHoK


We’ve received a lot of RHoK love this year, but last weekend’s Melbourne and Sydney hacks was probably the most productive with respect to getting prototypes & solutions across the line, and the most satisfying in terms of how well the hackers and change makers connected with each other, and with their causes. It’s clear we’re doing something right ☺️

Now we get to relax for a couple of months (“and breath”… 🧘🏼‍♀️) before we prepare for the Winter Hackathon and find our next batch of amazing change makers. A massive congratulations to Eddie for a successful first hack as our new Melbourne Community Manager. Handovers are not always easy, unless of course your new Community Manager has been involved in RHoK before; as a change maker, a hacker, and steering committee member. We couldn’t have asked for a better person to take up the reigns.

– A.B.


Revamping the RHoK Australia website

I spent most of yesterday revamping the RHoK Australia website in preparation for the next round of applications. There is still a lot more work to do to make it work more effectively, but I think we're getting there.

Recent changemakers and projects are yet to be added, as well as photos from our most recent hackathons.

The majority of my time was spent overhauling the Become a Changemaker  and  Become a RHoK star  pages, and making our reach or impact more visible. 

Showcasing our impact hasn't really been a priority for us but it's becoming increasingly more important. It enables us to standing out from other hackathons, and it makes it easier for us to attract quality Changemakers and to retain sponsors. Over the next couple of months i'll be focussing more on impact.

Then later on this year we will look at rebranding RHoK. Our logos and marketing materials look dated (they are at least 10+ years old) and they don't reflect our ability to deliver cutting edge technology solutions. 

The next step is to make sure our values and mission statement come across more clearly.



Interview with Inge van der Poel from We Are Elderberry

Last Friday, Kate, Aarti, and I had the privilege of interviewing We Are Elderberry co-founder Inge van der Poel. A few weeks ago Inge gave a talk at the Melbourne Design Thinking and Innovation meet-up, about her work at AGL Energy. As their Human-Centered Design Lead Inge is her harnessing expertise in human-centred design to help AGL navigate though a rapidly changing energy landscape. 

In 2014 she launched We Are Elderberry, designing alternative futures for ageing, longevity and a multigenerational society.

Unlocking the potential of the elderly

In 2014 Inge spoke at TEDxSouthBank  about the value of wisdom, the opportunity to rethink our notion of retirement, and the need for alternatives that give older people opportunities to participate in meaningful work. 

RHoK Changemaker 101

Last night I met our newest batch of Social Superheros for our pre-hackathon Changemaker 101 session. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this years hack. I'll be in Cape Town, South Africa attending the .Astronomy9 conference, running a tutorial session, and delivering an invited talk. But our RHoK lead-up events are fantastic and I wanted to stay involved at some level. Intrepid Travel very kindly hosted us for this event and it was great to have a few of their staff participate and see first hand how we RHoLL. 


I've talked about Changemaker 101 in previous posts, so I won't go into the details here. Essentially Mandi was her awesome business analyst self and walked our changemakers through the basics  of software development and introduced them to Agile and Lean methodologies. The goal of the evening was to help them identify their main roadblock and to prepare problems statements for the upcoming RHoK Info Night.

This year we have nine changemakers, including two return changemakers (Jen & Roberto);

While I won't be here to witness the RHoK Summer Hack magic – did I mention I'll be living it up in South Africa? ;) it was so great to meet Martina Clark from Carers Couch. This is such a great social enterprise I really want her to get the most out of RHoK. She also lost her best friend to cancer and because of our not-quite-shared experience we kind of hit it off.  You can read about her story here. Funnily enough we also happen to live in the same street! You gotta love Elwood folk :) 

Carers Couch provides advice, resources and attempts to build a supportive community around those who are caring for someone with cancer; be it a husband or wife, a mother or daughter, a father or son, the neighbour who cooks frozen dinners, the friend and fellow school mum who ferries the kids around, the close friend, the confidant, the not-so-close but still very important friend, to the local barista who brings morning coffee and cheer. 

Martina came to us with a really clear, albeit challenging problem:

According to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, emotional burnout, depression, anxiety and chronic illness are common and impact the overall mortality of carers. Self-care is crucial in preventing this but due to high workload and lack of support, many carers just don’t get a break. This burnout can impact the person who is dependent on them and can last well beyond the life of the dependant. I have experienced this first hand and have had it shared with me countless times now through Carers Couch. While nothing can prepare you for being a carer the right supports can help. The solution is taking the plethora of ‘stuff’ and bringing it into a single location, enabling the carer to increase their capacity and resilience resulting in better mental & physical health outcomes, communication and linking them with the relevant support specific to their needs. Through acknowledgement, education and awareness Carers Couch continues to normalize and validate the carers experience and its impact on physical and mental health. Carers Couch is there to assist with the unique needs that can come with caring for a loved one diagnosed with cancer. 
— Martina Clark (taken from her RHoK application)

Carers Couch already exists, and has been up and running for well over a year. It sounds like she's done an amazing job so far with setting up a website, building up the community, giving talks, getting key stakeholders in place (e.g., Peter Mac), and participating in the Melbourne Health Accelerator Program. Martina's problem now is that she's reached a point where her business can't scale easily, which is where RHoK can really help. A little business analysis and development work, and tech mentors to assist in the move from manual and clunky to streamlined and automatic, can make a massive impact. So over the next few week RHoK will be helping Martina figure out how to deliver carer support in a really effective way. I'm super excited about this project and I'm hoping that we continue working with Martina post-RHoK to make sure she ends up with a whizz-bang tech solution with everything Carers Couch needs. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day (or two days...)

My fellow RHoKstar (and veteran) Shaun Wilde will be her RHoK Buddy and Tech Lead this year.

She's in such good hands.

GitHub Constellation

Melbourne certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to tech networking events, and last night’s GitHub Constellation event was no exception. A fantastic event and an opportunity to meet experts, leaders and passionate advocates and builders of open source software. As expected the food and wine was excellent and there was an abundance of Octocat stickers… all the Octocat stickers.... and as much as I would have like to, I didn't wear my GitHub hoodie.  ;)

Let’s start with some fun facts. There are over 95,000 GitHub users in Australia with 31% from Victoria and the majority of those based in Melbourne.

Daniel Figucio (@dfigucio), Director Solutions Engineering at GitHub began the night by giving a GitHub Project update. Most of these were announced recently at GitHub Universe. It seems like they are turning their focus towards projects and GitHub as a data platform. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounds like a good move. They are also focussing more on data-driven security and they’ve implemented separate team discussions as part of issues. There is now a snazzy graph that tracks dependencies within a repository and soon you will be able to track security vulnerabilities. Security alerts are an important step towards keeping code safe. 

They are also ramping up their own machine learning projects in order to understand customer behaviour. I wasn’t surprised to hear this. It seems more and more companies are using machine learning to predict user behaviour and create user-driven products. The GitHub News Feed now includes a Discover Repositories tab. Recommendations are based on the users you follow, your starred repositories, and what is trending. Admittedly I’ve never really followed or starred things in the past but I will be now that I’m using GitHub more. My favourite “new” thing is GitHub Collections


I’d never really taken the time to explore GitHub. I tend to just go directly to the repositories of people I know. But the project collections look really good. I’ve got to say I was pretty pleased to see the Made in Africa collection on the front page. I don’t know if GitHub knows I’m about South Africa and that I help run Random Hacks of Kindness. I’m guessing not… but you never know.

And then there were the speakers… 

Julie Mission (Make it APPen)  is a nurse by trade and self-confessed nerd by nature. She builds apps to enhance patient care, mainly for pain management and carers, and assists hospitals and healthcare professionals to create their own. She’s a pretty fantastic woman who started building apps in her 50s, although she’s been programming in DOS since the 80s. She now uses Xamarin to build her apps and last year she wrote a book called Planning and Designing an App to Enhance Patient care. I had a really good chat with her afterwards and was pleased to find out that she’s based in Bendigo. Earlier this year RHoK Australia expanded and RHoK Bendigo is now up and running. I’m hoping she will get involved in the community.

Creative Mornings - Melbourne

Creative Mornings is a breakfast lecture series for people working in creative fields; art, design, literature, tech etc. and for those who just want a small dose of creative inspiration to kick start their working day. Each month a new topic is explored by the numerous Creative Morning chapters world-wide (currently there are 139 chapters). Melbourne has a pretty active community (@Melbourne_CM) and I've met some really fabulous and similarly tenacious people that I wouldn't normally meet. These folks have managed to get past the naysayers and have just gone for it. It's a fantastic way to meet people locally make real connections, even if you work in a completely different field.



Breakfast gatherings in Melbourne are held on Friday mornings at Donkey Wheel House on Bourke St (Spencer St station end), next to Kinfolk coffee and the School of Life. There is always fresh-coffee thanks to Clement Coffee Roasters and yummy food (croissants etc.) to start the day. The whole event is free which is fantastic and it's not at all intimidating. 

Talks are typically longer than TED Talks so you usually get a much better sense of how people have turned their ideas into something real. As much as I love TED Talks, there is something very scripted about them, like a final project presentation or a final performance. After a while you can start to see the TED talk formula. Creative Mornings talks are less about self-promotion and professional speaking and more about the stories and projects. Some of them are quite long, a good half hour or so, but they almost always include a fair bit of Q&A. Best of all, if once a month isn't enough to get your creative morning fix, all the Creative Morning talks (worldwide) are posted on the website shortly after each event.

One of best things about these events are Jessamy's (@JessamyG_draws) graphic recordings of the talk. These are done live at each event, and it's always nice to chat with her afterwards.