Technology for social justice
Group of people with laptops sitting around a wooden table

Advising Ask Izzy: Dan's story

Community collaboration is essential to Ask Izzy’s ongoing improvement and ability to connect people in need with over 370,000 support services across Australia.

This is why we established our first Product Advisory Group (PAG) in 2020. Members contribute their skills and experience to ensure Ask Izzy is the best it can be for people in need.

PAG members represent the wider community and bring diverse backgrounds, knowledge, and experience to the table. In this post, we’re delighted to introduce you to PAG member and Student Welfare Officer Dan Shaw


As a Student Welfare Officer at Holmesglen TAFE, Dan Shaw lives and breathes connecting help seekers to the support they need. It's his passion for empowering his community that prompted us to invite him to join our first Product Advisory Group.

“Initially I contacted Leena from the Ask Izzy team to get some free promotional resources to display and give out to students. We got to talking and she asked if I’d be interested in joining the group. It sounded like a fantastic opportunity, so I joined,” he says.

Dan brings to the PAG a wealth of experience in helping people who are facing situations like precarious housing and food shortages to find local support. He’s also studying for a postgraduate counselling diploma, which will help him provide more holistic support to his clients.

The way Dan discovered Ask Izzy is a common story, and one that tells us the website is providing community sector workers with a valuable tool that helps them work more efficiently.

“In my previous role one of the first things I had to do was review and update our internal service directory of local support organisations. This was just a binder under the desk, which is common in my line of work. During that process I found out about Ask Izzy and the website basically did my job for me, which was great,” Dan says.


Dan Shaw smiling at the camera wearing a Holmesglen Tafe lanyard
Dan in the student wellbeing office at Holmesglen TAFE


Like many of us, Dan has relied on technology more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. For him, Ask Izzy was instrumental in being able to continue to support students, particularly during prolonged lockdowns in Victoria.

“Ask Izzy has been incredibly useful for me to quickly find out where students can go to get help with food and housing, or even things like clothing,” he says.

Dan says that Ask Izzy is so easy to use that when he’s not available to help people, his colleagues from other teams can use the website to direct students to the help they need, even when they’re not familiar with a geographic area.

“Ask Izzy has been so beneficial in this way. We’ve got students spread right across Victoria in places like Geelong, Packenham, Phillip Island and other towns that I’ve never been to or heard of, so being able to put the person’s postcode in and choose the category of support they need is amazing,” he says.

For many people in Australia, COVID-19 has meant they’re either looking for support for the first time or are experiencing additional hardships that come with things like money or housing stress. Dan says in his experience, when help seekers need support it’s often assumed that they already know where to look for help.

“A lot of the time, policies, procedures and tools haven’t been designed with the end user in mind, so it can be really challenging for vulnerable people to find what they need. I think that’s one of the important barriers that Ask Izzy can help to address — to make it easier for people to be able to find their local support services”

It’s clear from talking to Dan that he’s passionate about contributing to Ask Izzy’s development and gaining a deeper understanding of how people seek help.

“I think it’s amazing that Ask Izzy takes that ‘help seeker first’ view. I’ve been in a lot of working groups and it’s really important to showcase people’s voices in the development phase and show the efficacy of what you’re doing,” he says.

Last year, we announced that with support from the Vodafone Foundation we’ve been working on a project called Ask Izzy Plus to better support frontline staff using the site. Dan says he's excited to contribute to the development of Ask Izzy Plus as he believes it has the capacity to address some of the barriers people experience when seeking help, especially within the housing and homelessness space.

“It’s quite common for people experiencing homelessness, or any other hardship, to face multiple hardships, so I think Ask Izzy Plus could be really powerful in addressing that. It’s really cool to be part of a group where everyone wants to be part of something as important as this,” says Dan.


Keen to learn how Ask Izzy can help you at work? Visit our website to find out more.

Filed in: Housing and homelessness | Tagged as: Ask Izzy , homelessness , food

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