ACE (Act, Change, Educate) | About Ace

Our Story

Sticks to Bricks Campaign

Filmed in 2003, ‘The Sticks to Bricks’ campaign was launched to raise funds to build the original Happy School building and support the ongoing education of its students. Thanks to Craig Boord at Streamline Media for his wonderful work.

The Happy School Story

Filmed with love and thanks in 2013, by ACE Member and all round production genius, Chris Patterson (view his details here).

The ACE committees are 100% volunteer based and are comprised of Australian professionals working towards equity and access to education through The Happy School Project in Cambodia, which is based in the Psar Duem Tkou commune in Phnom Penh.
A group of committed friends established ACE, initially “Australians for Cambodian Education” in 2004. They were encouraged to do so after spending time volunteering at The Happy School and speaking to like-minded friends in Australia.
They identified that there was a need for Australians to make a difference to a neighbouring developing country.
Thus the core purpose of ACE is to raise resources and awareness of The Happy School, in Australia, which it achieves through fundraising events, individual and group sponsorship and community education programs.
Australians for Cambodian Education is an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade registered Not For Profit, made up of a core group of Australian volunteers plus approximately 300 ongoing supporters who donate time and money through a variety of fundraising activities.
If it were not for our combined efforts, hundreds of students so far would be poorer in many ways.

Our Purpose

We support the right of a child to learn and play.

We Value:

Integrity… in purpose and actions
Humanity… in the scope of our vision
Entrepreneurship… in fundraising ideas and solutions
Accountability… to our mission and vision
Magic… in imagination and experience creation

Our Principles are:

To be informed in our goals and activities by the specific needs of The Happy School.
To operate transparently and inclusively.
To seek participation above the raising of financial resources.
To provide accurate and culturally aware information about Cambodia and The Happy School.

We Aim to:

Raise resources to support The Happy School project.
Create awareness among Australians about The Happy School project and life in Cambodia.

Meet the Ace team!

Sharni Macdonald

Co-President, Executive Team

Mardi Brown

Co-­President, Executive Team

Kirk Gibson

Board Member, Programs Team, Executive Team

Lucy Gray

Programs Team

Michael Harris

Treasurer, Secretary, Executive Team

Peter Gurrie

Communications Team

Clayton Newell


Justin Nagorcka

Communications Team

Lana De Jager


Rosalinda Mercuri


Tracy Rennie


Kirilly Crawford


Chris Patterson


Eloise Wall

Communications Team

Bobilee Shahine

Janice Bell

Matthew Hunter

Rebecca Reid

Liz Harrington

Orla Baker

Harper Massey

Partnerships & Support

The Children for a Better Future (CBF) Board  pursues local partnerships that support and enhance the core operations of The Happy School and provide pathways for students after they graduate.

In the first category our current partners are:

Happy Football Cambodia Australia: a football-based development program that provides football coaching to poor Cambodian children and the chance to represent Cambodia each year at the Homeless World Cup. Happy School students attend weekly training sessions and games and each year, one student is chosen to join the Cambodian Homeless World Cup team.
Cambodian Volunteer Foundation (CVF): provides the School with international volunteers who assist with the English program.
Maybank: Malaysian banking company that provide funding for part of the Breakfast program.
Our second category of local partners provide pathways for Happy School graduates into either state school or vocational training and employment. Our present partners are:
The Intercontinental Hotel: provides 3 – 6 month hospitality traineeships for graduates of the Life Skills program. If trainees are successful they are offered full-time work at the Hotel at a wage well above industry standard – enough to support an entire Happy School student’s family.
Sunway Hotel: provides a smaller number of hospitality traineeships for graduates of the Life Skills program.
Beoung TrabekHigh School: local government school that accepts Happy School graduates from Grade 6 onwards. Students receive a scholarship package from the Happy School which covers their fees, uniforms and study materials.

View & Download our Annual Reports