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Pandemic doesn’t stop real estate professionals changing lives across the water

When the not-for-profit program Digital Live was conceived in 2017, Steve Carroll was determined to make a difference to the lives of children in need across the water. And he knew exactly who to call on to help make this vision a reality: the passionate Australian real estate industry.  

Fast forward to 2020 and the achievements are astounding.  In just three years, Digital Live has raised $720,000, with every cent going directly to the charity Hands Across the Water to provide children in need with a life of opportunity and choice. 

Steve says the hero outcome of this mammoth fundraising effort was a multipurpose education and learning centre located adjacent to Home Hug, a children’s home in Thailand.

The centre will support children to obtain early and school-aged education, and teach young adults the digital skills that will help them gain employment throughout their working life.   

Almost complete, Steve – former realestate.com.au executive and now leading Queensland tech start-up Little Hinges – says none of it would have been possible without the generosity of the Australian and international real estate professionals who have supported the initiatives through the industry’s ups and downs.

“Whether it be through their attendance at our education seminars, donating their time to programs, decking out in lycra to ride hundreds of kilometres across Thailand as part of our Digital Live rides or rallying their networks for donations, the real estate industry has put their hearts of gold into this achievement,” he says.

Even in the face of COVID-19, Steve says the resilience and momentum has not stopped. 

“It’s no secret that there’s been unprecedented disruption in our industry due to this global pandemic, yet even in the face of that, people are still showing their support and driving plans for next year’s bike ride and other events,” he explains.

There has also been continuing support for the Digital Live education program, which will go ahead in October this year with three one-day events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, followed by a 12-week program to help real estate agents better embrace digital media, unlock opportunities and open the door to their future real estate business success.

“There has never been a more critical time for the real estate industry to come to grips with digital as a result of COVID-19 speeding up digital transformation, so being able to provide this education through the October program, while using all funds raised to support the charity, is really a win/win,” Steve says.

Former REINSW president and industry veteran John Cunningham says the Digital Live Thailand Ride fundraising endeavour has particularly impressed him.

“This ride is amazing, and one of the greatest philanthropic endeavours from the industry that I’ve ever seen,” he says. 

Hands Across the Water General Manager Claire Baines says she knows first-hand the difference these funds will make in the lives of the children and young adults in their care. 

“We have babies through to university students that live a life of choice thanks to the generous support of our donors,” she says.

“These donations from Digital Live and the real estate industry are going towards an incredible and much-needed education centre, not only supporting the fit-out and needed technology, but also the ongoing operations for years to come.

“The opportunities that will come from this centre are truly life-changing for these children and young adults.

“Not only can we provide life’s necessities through our homes, but we can go further now, empowering them with skills that will allow them to thrive once they leave our care, and live a life of choice.”

The education centre is expected to be completed and operational in late July 2020. 

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