Civil Society Australia
 Australia's Peak Body for Civil Society

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A 12month program for community people to develop and exercise social leadership.
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You can take charge of your social support, education and health care through a personal budget.
for further information.

Making a difference in our not-for-profits.
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up people who live in the same street or nearby to build community by doing amazing things with and for each other - on a national scale.
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CLICK HERE to find out more.


"The Left and Right have been as bad as each other. The Left has allowed its distrust of markets and endless faith in government to obscure the importance of civil society. The Right has been so focused on replacing the state with markets that it has forgotten how to cultivate a trusting society.

This is the politics of the absurd. The Left identifies with the good society but rarely talks about the mutualism and trust between people. The Right recognises the importance of moral obligation but gives the impression of trusting market transactions more than civil society.

Few things seem to happen anymore without a government law or market transaction to guide them. This is how record levels of GDP in Australia now sit alongside record levels of crime, social stress and family  breakdown. The political balance needs to swing back towards civil society.

This task, in fact, requires a new type of politics."

Mark Latham, Mutualism: A Third Way for Australia," 1999.

CLICK HERE to read more. 

An Invitation to Join Us                                    

Civil Society comprises the relationships and activities that make up our life at grass-roots levels of society, in families, communities and voluntary associations, independent of both government and the commercial world.

We invite you to join Civil Society Australia, Australia's peak body for civil society. Membership comprises individuals, associations, small businesses, and services who together constitute the relationships and activities of civil society.    

Civil Society comprises eight key segments:                                          

Family, kinship and friendship networks
Household or domestic economies
Neighbourhoods and informal social supports
Voluntary associations, self-help and support groups
NGOs and charities
Social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals
Family farms, family enterprises, small businesses
Religion, faith and spirituality*

*note: our interest here is in the relationships and activities generated by faith or spirituality-based communities, not in endorsement or promotion of any one particular faith or spiritual tradition.
These diverse social forms have three features in common:
Relational they are defined by relationships
Associational they are shaped by formal or informal bonds
Voluntary they are formed without compulsion

The governing Council of Civil Society Australia is made up of two representatives of each of these eight segments of civil society and will be constituted early in 2015. Expressions of interest are invited from people interested in joining the inaugural Council.

The term 'civil society' does not refer to 'politeness' or 'civility' in public life, as important as this is. It refers to that part of society that is not part of the state, hence the term 'civilian' when used to distinguish a person in civil society from military personnel or state officials, or the notion of a civil offence in law which is an offence between persons in civil society rather than a criminal matter. Civil society is made up of the things we do as civilians, freely and voluntarily, outside the state and the market.

The 'not-for-profit' sector of organisations is one strand in civil society, alongside informal and voluntary forms of association and activity. The 'not-for-profit' sector is not more important than informal and voluntary forms of association, though it currently attracts far greater attention from governments, policy makers and academics than other forms of relationship and association.

In Australia, civil society is largely ignored in public life. Personal and social well-being is primarily determined in and by civil society, but discussion about civil society has been almost entirely absent from Australian public debate for the last century.

In the last thirty years in particular, a managerial revolution has swept through government, business and non-government organisations which has deeply marginalised civil society. Managerialism has had the effect of shifting agency and responsibility for personal and social well-being away from the relationships and institutions of civil society onto a class of public, private and NGO sector managers. This process has almost killed off the instinct for, and practice of, voluntary association and the shared generation of moral and social capital.

Civil Society Australia has been formed to counter this marginalisation of civil society in Australian public life. It aims to to represent and empower civil society.

It is an initiative of the
Centre for Civil Society, a social innovation and public policy institute established in 2007 for the empowerment of ordinary people and strengthening of civil society.

Civil Society Australia is a membership organisation, a peak body of civil society. Its membership is open to individuals, associations, small business, and services. It is not a consultancy business.

Civil Society Australia will network its members by fields of interest and locality, develop mutual supports by sector, and generate projects in representation and empowerment. It will aim to provide a voice for civil society in public life that has long been absent.

conducts an annual Civil Society Leadership Development Program which runs over a 12 month period. Participants in this Program nominate two social challenges they will work on over the course of the twelve month period. The Program aims to provide resources and support to participants in developing and exercising civil society leadership in finding solutions to these challenges.

Our core values are:

relationships and social capital
ethical conduct

You may donate to Civil Society Australia using this form or through PAYPAL.

We invite Australians from all walks of life to become involved in strengthening civil society and renewing our social traditions of working together, looking out for neighbours and strangers, offering a hand up rather than a hand out for those who need it, unpretentiousness, and inclusive, convivial community.

Civil Society Australia 2015


for details of our campaign for a Real Education Revolution.


CLICK HERE for information on the Federation of Parents, Families and Carers.


Charlie Leadbeater, Jamie Bartlett and Niamh Gallagher have authored this highly influential Demos Report on Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets.
to read Making It Personal.

We bring people together in 150 local divisions around Australia to work locally in representing and empowering civil society.
CLICK HERE to join us.


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