Clothing The Gaps Foundation

Clothing The Gaps Foundation is adding years to Aboriginal Peoples’ lives 


You might’ve seen everyone from Ed Sheeran to Thelma Plum sporting Clothing The Gaps’ iconic merch – but did you know that the brand exists to support Aboriginal health initiatives across Australia? Meet Clothing The Gaps Foundation, Bank Australia customer and purveyors of the most fashion-forward health program in the country. 

At a sparkling new community centre in Wollert, Victoria on Wurundjeri Country, about an hour north of Melbourne – a group of Aboriginal women and kids, are sitting in a semi-circle and chatting through strategies for sticking to their healthy habits. 

They’ve just done some high-intensity cardio together, and are now diving into their health wins from the week, and the finer points of maintaining good health while balancing work, kids, relationships and the daily stresses and strains of life in 2023.

The group is led by Lena Charles, a Yorta Yorta and Gunai Kurnai woman from Mooroopna. This is the penultimate session of a six-week program called Wellah Together. The program is one of the flagship offerings by Clothing the Gaps Foundation, and aims to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with accessible advice, support, inspiration and community to help them smash their health goals.

“The purpose of the Foundation is to add years to Aboriginal Peoples’ lives, and one of the biggest ways we do that is to encourage people to get moving – but also to make other positive health and lifestyle choices,” says Lena, on a Zoom call a week before our visit to Wollert. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to build relationships with Aboriginal Community, and that they trust the work we do.”

Unless you’ve been living on another planet for the last few years, you’ve likely heard of Clothing The Gaps – the Aboriginal social enterprise and B-Corp that even Ed Sheeran can’t get enough of. But you might’ve missed the fact that the Clothing The Gaps brand supports the impactful work of the Foundation. 

By selling clothes with a message, the organisation is helping to fund essential health promotion work. “The brand supports the mission of the Foundation through fashion, which has taken off in a way we never could have imagined,” says Clothing The Gaps co-founder and Deputy CEO, Sarah Sheridan. “As a social enterprise, the business model means we can create impact without relying on traditional funding sources.”

In her role as Impact Manager at Clothing The Gaps Foundation, Lena is tasked with driving the Foundation’s work beyond the four walls of the organisation’s HQ in Brunswick on Wurundjeri Country and out into the Community. And drive it she does – both through the Wellah Together program and other initiatives like it.

“Last financial year, we ran 110 impact sessions and reached over 6,200 people, creating 14,000 hours of physical activity,” says Lena, who has a Masters in Public Health from the University of Melbourne and a background working for the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service. “We believe in self-determination in health, because Aboriginal Communities know their Community, opportunities and challenges better than anyone.”

Having overcome anxiety and self-doubt through her own endurance challenges – which include an overnight marathon through Alice Springs, among other things – Lena is no stranger to the benefits of setting goals and maintaining positive health habits. And following the Voice to Parliament referendum result, the work of the Foundation is more important than ever – with the target to close the Indigenous life expectancy gap (8.6 years for males, 7.8 years for females) by 2031 still not on track. “It’s so important to demonstrate that Aboriginal-led spaces really work,” says Lena. ”It really sets the bar for others to aspire to and, for me, it’s just a no-brainer to have Aboriginal-led programs in Aboriginal spaces.”

Through their work, Clothing The Gaps and Clothing The Gaps Foundation are ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are heard throughout the country on a daily basis. From Australia’s city streets to its rural communities, its catwalks to its brightly-lit stages (hi Ed!), the organisation doesn’t need to seek permission for its messages to spread far and wide. “There’s no difference to me between a T-shirt and a billboard,” says Sarah. “Through clothing, we’re able to take messages into a huge range of places, and that can help to change the way those spaces look and feel for people.” 

“It should be the norm that you buy good stuff, and good stuff happens,” adds Lena.

You can support the Clothing The Gaps Foundation directly by a donation, or by buying merch with a message from the Clothing The Gaps store.

How are you changing the world? 
Tell us your story by completing the form below, and you could help write the next chapter of our ongoing content series 'How to change the world in 60 seconds'. Through these short documentary style videos, we're featuring Bank Australia customers creating positive change for people, animals and the planet. You can watch the videos and read the articles we've shared so far at



Watch more