The Centre for Civil Society
is a social innovation and public policy institute for the empowerment of ordinary
people and strengthening of civil society.
The term 'civil society' refers to the relationships
and associations that make up our life at grass-roots levels of society, in
families, neighbourhoods and voluntary associations, independent of both
government and the commercial world. Our aim is to strengthen civil society and
empower people within it.
The term 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.
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 largely determined in and by
civil society, but discourse about civil society has been almost entirely absent
from Australian public discussion 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 to a
class of public, private and NGO sector managers. This process has almost killed
off the instinct for, and practice of, voluntary association, personal
responsibility, and the shared generation of moral and social capital.
The Centre for Civil Society was established in 2007 to counter this marginalisation of civil
society in Australian
We run events, publish resources and organise
change-makers in federal electorates across the country.
Centre is dedicated to empowering ordinary Australians in
our roles as community members, residents, consumers,
parents, family members, modest owners of assets, small business proprietors, and
Our core values are:
relationships and social capital
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.