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Consumer Family and Citizen Empowerment
 Public policy and social innovation for empowerment

  October 2011 Issue:

  Dermot Egan Time for a stock exchange with a real social purpose
  Ageing Australia
A ten point program for self-directed, connected ageing
Noel Pearson  Job services agencies - living off the unemployed
  Jeffrey Braithwaite Health care restructuring as gratification
  Summit 2012 Reforming Public Services
Towards citizen-centred social
  policy and empowered users of public services

Public Services Inside Out Putting co-production into practice
ANZSOG Putting Citizens First - Without Any Citizens!
  Vern Hughes Social Impact Bonds in NSW
  John Milbank Christian social thought and civil society
  Social Enterprise Coalition Formation meeting 28 November 2011

  Kate Lawrence  A national community-led disaster organisation
  Street by Street  Recovering the art of neighbourliness
  Joel Kotkin The Dispersionist Manifesto - A New Urban Vision
Colin Ball It's the community, stupid! 
Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets Expressions of Interest
Volunteer  Three roles available with the Centre for Civil Society
  Organising by Federal Electorate  Become involved in your area

Dermot Egan Time for a stock exchange with a real social purpose

There's a golden opportunity for social enterprises to move into the centre of the financial system and reboot it from within, says Dermot Egan.

Stock Market Continues Recovery From Heavy Losses

"The stock market is in crisis. Over the last decade the FTSE 100 index of shares, which represents over three-quarters of the total value of the London Stock Exchange, has flatlined. The picture is the same in the US where the Dow Jones industrial average has been hovering at the same level for over 10 years. Commentators are calling this the "lost decade".

But not everyone has lost out during this period. If you were fortunate enough to be part of the 4% of the UK workforce connected to the financial industry, then you would have enjoyed a wage far in excess of the national average and shared in a bonus pot of over £11bn annually.

Neither would you have lost out if you were lucky enough to be running any of the top companies in the FTSE. During the lost decade the average annual bonus of directors of FTSE 100 companies increased 187% and director's salaries 64%.

Of course, there have been losers. In this case, it's the investors. Historically, most of the investors in the stock market were wealthy individuals but recently there has been a major shift towards institutional investors, including pension funds, insurance companies and banks. This change has injected enormous sums of new capital into the stock market but it has also had the effect of making the majority of the public vested players, often without their knowledge.

The subsequent bail out of banks and insurance companies by the government has meant that the public have suffered the double blow of seeing their taxes used to rescue the very companies that have been wasting their money.

This has resulted in huge amounts of frustration and anger. Over 1,000 people have already been arrested during protests on Wall St in New York, and there are signs that this is the beginning of a global protest movement against the stock market and how it operates.

But one major positive may yet emerge from this crisis: a unique opportunity to reinvent the stock exchange. Currently, there is no meaningful restriction on what type of business can be listed and offer its shares for sale on the London Stock Exchange, other than some basic financial requirements. Neither do the traders have any concern for the welfare of the companies whose shares they are trading. A culture has evolved where maximum returns are sought in the shortest timeframes possible, irrespective of whether this is against the long-term interest of the companies involved.

A new social stock exchange could radically change this, and only companies with a clearly defined social purpose would be allowed to list. The idea has existed for several years and Muhammad Yunus, perhaps the world's best known social entrepreneur, has been one of the leading voices calling for its formation.

There are plans to create a global social stock exchange based in London by 2013, an initiative backed by the Rockefeller Foundation. The Social Stock Exchange, as it would be called, would be regulated by the UK's Financial Services Authority and will insist that any participating enterprise is subjected to a social audit before being accepted. The exchange will hope to target long-term, patient investors who are attracted by a combination of the steady returns and demonstrable social impact.

If a social stock exchange is to be successful it will need to develop its own infrastructure to facilitate trading. Rating agencies and reporting formats will need to be established that can measure and communicate social impact as well as financial performance. Legal issues will need to be addressed to ensure that companies are not bound to maximise profits and shareholder returns to the detriment of their social mission. Remuneration packages for the directors of the companies who are listed on the new exchange and the brokers, traders and fund managers responsible for dealing in the shares, will also need to be examined to ensure they are linked to creating real value.

Despite many obvious challenges, a social stock exchange represents an important first step in understanding how economies can promote and fund enterprises that deliver long-term financial and social returns. To progress, the new exchange has to attract the right companies and the right investors. There is also a need to educate the public so they better understand where and how their money is being currently invested and offer them the choice to reinvest it in a social stock exchange.

The global financial crisis has had many negative effects but it has also provided a golden opportunity for social enterprises to move into the centre of the financial system and reboot it from within. If successful, a social stock exchange which benefits investors and society could define a new model for the stock market, and challenge the value proposition of the traditional stock exchanges."

Dermot Egan is founding director of the Hub.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of this article.

Ageing Australia A ten point program for self-directed connected ageing

As the average age in Australia rises, as it will in all western societies over the next thirty years, panic is growing amongst governments and welfare services as to how existing systems and finances will cope.

The reality is that our existing systems of social provision and financing will not support the coming "Silver Wave" in our population. These systems are not oriented to regarding older people as a value-producing segment of society. They are rooted in assumptions about post-value creation retirement.

Nor are they oriented to understanding changing patterns of relationships and responsibilities amongst citizens. Our systems are built around cohorts of passive recipients of services, not around individuals, families and communities as active agents who enter into relationships and incur responsibilities.

Nor are our existing systems oriented to comprehending diversity and individuality. Institutionalised arrangements may have become passe in mental health and disability, but in aged care they are still in vogue. One-size-fits-all ways of thinking will not accommodate the generation of baby boomers.

Readers are invited to comment on our selection of a ten point program for what we call "self-directed and connected ageing". Our assumption is that individuals want to retain as much individual and social autonomy as possible as they age, and self-direct, for as long as possible, their preferred way of living.

Our assumption is also that individuals do best when they are socially connected rather than isolated.

We also assume that governments and welfare systems are not likely to get this, without a lot of help. Without a strong exercise of social leadership by citizens themselves in shaping a public agenda for "self-directed and connected ageing", government initiatives and social interventions will fall well short of what is required.

Our ten point program is informed by several leading examinations of ageing issues around the world. The UK National Endowment for the Sciences, Technology and the Arts' Age Unlimited program; the Helsinki Design Lab's work on ageing in Recipes for Systemic Reform in Finland; and UK ResPublica's Age of Opportunity are worth exploring.

We invite readers to use the online form below to send in comments on this program. It is a draft, and it needs your input. From this process, we would like to develop a Strategy Group to explore ways of shaping the public agenda on ageing in the coming few years. Please indicate your interest if you would like to participate in this work.

You will see too that this program contains a mix of public policy initiatives and social innovations, with an understanding that both are important, including the relationship between them.

A ten point program for self-directed and connected ageing

Eliminate the formal retirement age: Allow individuals to choose when and at what rate they conclude their working life.

Replace the age-based eligibility requirement for the aged pension (currently 67) with a lifetime service requirement of 40 years in the paid workforce and/or voluntary service to encourage life-stage flexibility.

Allow superannuants to draw on their superannuation at any time over 60 years for the purpose of starting a business or making alternative investments.
Establish lifetime volunteer credits for voluntary service activity which from the age of 60 can be traded for benefits through a Volunteer Bank.
Encourage diverse co-housing arrangements whereby older people may house share with peers, students and other community members.
Introduce a requirement that Commonwealth benefit recipients (including family benefit, unemployment benefit, youth and student allowance) must enter a mentoring arrangement with a non-family person over the age of 70 years as a condition of eligibility.
Introduce a requirement that Seniors Card holders must enter a mentoring arrangement with a young person.
Introduce neighbourhood-based volunteering options to facilitate neighbourly acts to assist older people living at home with simple practical tasks.
Develop new and diverse forms of mutual support groups (variations and developments of senior citizen clubs and informal associations) amongst older people.
Redirect all aged care and support funding through individualised funding allocations, payable to each older person or their nominated agent.

CLICK HERE io send us your comments on this program. Indicate if you wish to participate in a Strategy Group to develop this initiative.

Noel Pearson Job services agencies - living off the unemployed


"Unemployed people have invisible bar codes tattooed on their foreheads. This makes them commodities in the employment services industry.

When the unemployed sign up with one of the legion of employment service providers licensed under the Job Services Australia system, they suddenly become economically useful to the organisation waving the bar code scanner across their skulls.

The scanner immediately clocks up a sign-up fee for the service provider. And each unemployed person will be good for a succession of payments to their agency. Kerching goes the till.

Employment services in Australia, as throughout the world, is big business funded straight out of public budgets. Millionaires have emerged from this industry.

The great thing about this industry is that the unemployed will come back through the door next year, and you will be able to sweep the scanner over that hapless head once again. Thanks to the high rates of churn, particularly for the long-term unemployed, these people are money for jam...

As with all industries built around the outsourcing of government services, many job-service organisations have been established by former bureaucrats with strong connections to people in government. It helps if your former colleagues are on the inside when you're setting up outside.

Many would say Australia's privatised job-services system is a world leader. Not down the end of the spectrum that I see.

And however groundbreaking it originally was, like all public-funded industries the job-services system has become more and more subject to bureaucratic straitjackets and red tape that have killed innovation and genuine social entrepreneurship."

CLICK HERE to read the full text of this article.

Jeffrey Braithwaite Health restructuring as gratification

In the last eighteen months, the Commonwealth Government has established no fewer than eight new national statutory authorities to administer health care.

Will they make any different to the consumer experience of health care? No, says Jeffrey Braithwaite, Director of the Australian Centre for Health Innovation at the University of NSW.

"Health restructuring is so pervasive, that observers could be forgiven for thinking it is the only change tool available. In the health sectors of Britain, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Australia the activity seems virtually continuous. Primarily it consists of regular mergers, altering the responsibilities between central and peripheral bodies, setting up new agencies that trigger domino-like changes to the official responsibilities of other agencies, constantly tweaking organizational charts and re-orienting who reports to whom.

The evidence for this making a difference, let alone demonstrably improving productivity or outcomes, is surprisingly slender. This is the case for both system-wide and organizational-level restructuring... In truth, there are no randomized trials, no longitudinal studies of multiple restructuring events or time series designs and little scientifically acceptable cross-sectional work.

Anecdotally, one hears the groans of clinicians when the next restructure is proposed or new body announced. Usually management consultants or government advisors are the proselytizers. Many bedside clinicians look up into the far reaches of hospital structures and see that, although new organizational charts are released displaying new boxes with novel titles and some trimming of old positions, not a lot changes in terms of their own work or responsibilities. Sure, the title of their clinical directorate may alter because someone fuses two or more together—or the name of a new national body is publicized with fanfare, with a mandate to enhance quality or safety or compliance with regulations—but the professional arrangements that deliver direct, local care to patients seem untouched.

      Evidence challenging the restructuring phenomenon
  • Between 1999 and 2003 there were 2497 mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry of the USA, yet the latest evidence suggests that mergers induce less competition and lead to increases in prices of some 53%.
  • A study of 20 teaching hospitals restructuring their clinical directorates in New South Wales and Victoria, showed that efficiency gains sought were not realized, and that one structural type was as efficient as any other.
  • Case study research into 25 National Health Service trusts merged between 1996 and 2001 revealed that, although mergers can realize some benefits, there were considerable negative effects including: setbacks of at least 18 months in progress; problems in fusing different organizational cultures; no better recruitment and retention of clinical staff; and savings below those forecasted.
  • New Zealand restructured its health services in the 1990s along quasi-market, competitive lines including a purchaser-provider split, and has now turned 180°, re-instituting a public sector model.

All too often, regardless of good intentions, restructuring is merely thinly-disguised public relations, and spun as strategic, creative change for the better. Those in authority, notably ministers for health, move to change the organizational chart, install a new agency, or re-order some people's responsibilities at the apex of the health system, and propose that reform has been accomplished—until the next structural ‘transformation’ is identified. Sometimes the motive is to configure like services with like more snugly to achieve ‘strategic fit’. But often the purpose is political, with intended outcomes ranging from ridding the system of dead wood to ‘demonstrating’ something significant is being done, all in the absence of tackling complex systems problems."

Jeffrey Braithwaite is Director of the Australian Centre for Health Innovation at the University of NSW.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of this article.

Summit 2012 Reforming Public Services
- Towards citizen-centred social policy and empowered users of public services

Reform of public services has been a constant theme amongst governments, policy officials, and service delivery organisations for the last two decades.

Despite the constant talk, real change towards citizen-centred social policy and empowered users of public services is hard to find. What is more common is a pattern of frequently restructured financing arrangements for service delivery and re-badged programs which have little impact on the experience of users of services.

his Summit over two days will review the progress, and the stalemate, in reform of public services, and explore prospects and strategies for reform in the following areas of social policy: http://www.civilsociety.org.au/society.jpg

  • Education
  • Health
  • Welfare
  • Ageing
  • Disability
  • Families
  • Indigenous affairs
  • Rural and regional affairs
  • Community strengthening
  • Justice and community safety

The Summit has an interest in processes and models, from Australia and overseas, that have broken through the reform stalemate and generated innovative thinking and practice, and new forms of user participation in the design, ownership and implementation of reform options.

The format of this Summit will involve a mix of structured consensus-oriented deliberations, informed by inputs from presenters in plenary and concurrent sessions. The goal is to search for, and progress, common understandings and approaches through the course of the deliberations over the two days.

Call for Papers

Expressions of interest in presenting a paper or workshop or display should be forwarded, in no more than 300 words, by 31 December 2011, using the form below or emailing admin@partnerships.org.au

CLICK HERE to submit an expression of interest in presenting

CLICK HERE to register

CLICK HERE for more information.

Public Services Inside Out Putting co-production into practice

In preparation for the 2012 Reforming Public Services Summit, we have made available for download two excellent collections of case studies from the UK on putting co-production into practice.

The first collection Public Services Inside Out was produced in 2010 by NESTA (National Endowment on Sciences, Technology and the Arts., and the New Economics Foundation. Here is the Executive Summary:

"This report is about real stories of reform, led by people who work in and use public services. The examples included in this report didn’t rely on expensive consultants, troublesome IT systems, or grand blueprints drawn up in Whitehall departments and Westminster think tanks. They depended only on the commitment and creativity of frontline workers and members of the public who wanted better services.

In spite of this – or more likely because of it – these examples represent a radical new approach to public services. They embody what has come to be known as ‘co-production’: public services that rest on an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and neighbours. They exist today not as promises in pamphlets or manifestos, but as real services serving real people more cheaply and more effectively than traditional approaches.

This is public services inside out – innovation that overturns the conventional passive relationship between the ‘users’ of services and those who serve them. As we enter a period in which cuts and savings will be made from on high, these examples point to the possibility of a different approach: better, cheaper services created from the ground up by those who know public services the best.

This is the second of three reports on co-production from a partnership between nef (the new economics foundation) and NESTA. The first report, The Challenge of Co-production, published in December 2009, identified the problems in
trying to reform public services from the centre. It pointed to the exhaustion of improvement efforts through a so-called ‘New Public Management’ of seemingly endless institutional re-wiring, targets and ‘efficiencies’ – especially in the face of long-term challenges such as an ageing population and a rise in debilitating health conditions.

... From family nurse partnerships to parent-run nurseries, community-led justice to patient-led recovery from brain injuries, the examples here
demonstrate six main themes. These include recognising people as assets and building on their existing capabilities, establishing mutual responsibilities between professionals and the public, and supporting people to support each other.

... But the fundamental and provocative issue underlying all of these barriers is that co-production is sometimes blocked because it takes seriously the current political rhetoric about ‘devolving power’ and ‘empowering communities’ – because it challenges the costly but conventional model of public services as a ‘product’ that is delivered to a ‘customer’ from on high, and instead genuinely
devolves power, choice and control to frontline professionals and the public."

CLICK HERE to read the full report.

New Economics Foundation Empowerment and Inclusion

The second collection of case studies was produced by the New Economics Foundation in 2011. It is titled Creating stronger and more inclusive communities which value everyone's right to contribute.

CLICK HERE to read the full report.

ANZSOG  Putting Citizens First - Without Any Citizens!

The Australia New Zealand School of Government is a public sector management school which offers post-graduate courses for public servants in public administration.

Like government agencies everywhere, it monitors the constantly changing fashions in public administration, importing ideas and practices from abroad that it believes the next generation of bureaucrats should know about. It has picked up the idea of co-production of public services from overseas literature, and given it a local twist. The local twist is that the "co" part, the part that involves citizens, is optional.

In July, ANZSOG held its annual conference titled Putting Citizens First  examining "Citizen-Centric Service Delivery". With a registration fee of $2,990 for two days, this event attracted public servants from around the country eager to explore ways of putting citizens first. Of course, there were no citizens present, speaking or listening. Every contributor was a public servant or public sector management consultant. It was Putting Citizens First without any citizens.

Allan Fels is the Dean of ANZSOG [photo above]. When asked how it is possible to hold a conference titled Putting Citizens First on "Citizen-Centric Service Delivery" without any citizens, Alan Fels responded by saying "The conference is for public administrators to explore ways of engaging with citizens". When asked whether it might be useful to involve citizens in a kind of dialogue, particularly citizens who are active in working towards "Citizen-Centric Service Delivery" in fields such health or disability or indigenous affairs, he replied "The conference is for public administrators to explore ways of engaging with citizens".

It is doubtful that even George Orwell could anticipate anything quite so Orwellian. The gap between Australia's bureaucratic class and the general public is so vast that public servants can, seemingly with a straight face, allocate $2,990 of taxpayers money to themselves, each, to discuss "co-production with the public" without any member of the public being part of the discussion.

A new public agenda on Reforming Public Services that involves citizens is long overdue in Australia. To this end, a Summit on Reforming Public Services will be held in March 2012. Members of the public (citizens, users of services, residents and taxpayers) are invited to be part of the discussion.

CLICK HERE for the Summit flyer.

Vern Hughes Social Impact Bonds in NSW

The NSW Government announced on 5 September 2011 that it is to trial a tender process for private investors in foster care and prisoner post-release programs, whereby investors may make a return on their investments if they yield budget savings for the Government. 

This announcement is the direct result of lobbying by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) with financial support from JB Were and the Macquarie Group. The financial interest of large finance houses in pushing public policy arrangements such as this comes as no surprise. The Macquarie Group has three decades experience behind it in overseeing for-profit private investment in public programs. Known as the "millionaire's factory", the Macquarie Group has made its mega-bucks by designing infrastructure projects (tolled bridges and tunnels are its specialty) that screw consumers. It uses its philanthropic foundation to mask its rapacious corporate greed.

Having invested profitably in public infrastructure, why should the Macquarie Group not spread its tentacles into foster care and prisoner post-release programs?
Social Impact Bonds have been highly controversial in the UK. but have been introduced by the NSW Government with virtually no public debate. Innovative ideas in foster care, or disability, or mental health, that arise from users of services, or parents and carers, or residents, rarely get the ear of governments, despite years, indeed decades, of trying. If an innovative idea comes from a charity or service provider, it will be considered more favourably. But if it comes from private investors, then, apparently, all you need to do is ask.

The thinking behind Social Impact Bonds is that private sector investors can weave positive social impacts if they are offered incentives to apply their financial investment “expertise” to communities, through a “payment for results” framework. The deep flaw in this thinking is the naive assumption that social goals (in this case, reduced demand for foster care and lower re-offending rates among former prisoners) can be orchestrated by programs and investors if the incentives are right. This is not the case. Social relationships are the key to reduced demand for foster care and lower re-offending rates, and the people who might make these relationships happen are not private investors. They are people in civil society - family and friends, neighbours and communities, mentors and teachers.

Many such people have worked tirelessly for decades to get governments to recognise that managerial approaches in foster care do not work. But governments have relentlessly persisted with failed programs .... until a proposal for private investment with a return for budget savings comes along. It is offensive that private returns from budget savings should flow into the likes of the "millionaires factory" when individuals and groups have been calling for radical change in foster care for years, with no expectation of any financial reward.

That governments have listened to ivory tower academics and investors on a topic of such sensitivity and complexity as foster care, and not listened to voices in civil society who are immersed in the relationships that potentially make a difference, is contemptuous of those individuals, families and communities.

The assumption that positive social impacts can be leveraged by getting the incentives right for investors to make profitable returns is a further triumph for shallow managerial thinking on the part of governments and public policy academics, for whom social well-being can apparently be adjusted upwards or downwards by manipulating this or that program lever or amending this or that set of incentives. This assumption is fundamentally wrong.

Further details of this CSI intervention with the NSW Government are available at Social Impact Bonds.

Vern Hughes is Director of the Centre for Civil Society.

John Milbank Christian social thought and civil society

John Milbank is a leading writer on civil society, social theory, theology and politics in the UK, whose work underpins the emerging 'third way' in British politics based on a stronger civil society. Here he comments on the forgotten tradition of Christian social thought and its affinity with alternatives to the "bankruptcy of both liberal left and neo-liberal right".

"There has been a new surge in the importance of charities and voluntary welfare activism, plus a great rise in the number of social enterprises, not-for-profit organisations and hybrid businesses which combine for-profit and not for-profit activities.

Now some of the reasons that can be given for the growth of this "third sector" can accurately be called cynical. Businesses can try to imbue even charity with a capitalist logic, or find that charitable involvement is good for their image and ultimately for profit. Meanwhile governments can find that they can supply services more cheaply and more efficiently, yet without surrendering bureaucratic control, by turning to the assistance of voluntary agencies.

Yet even such cynical intent would not change the fact that this is giving a new public opportunity to genuine motives of social purpose and the pursuit of interpersonal aid.

Moreover, the "cynical" explanation is insufficient: more crucial is the manifest failure of both state and market to meet some of our most fundamental human needs. This is because both institutions think and operate in materialistic, instrumentalist terms that cannot supply the currency of tacit trust and unwritten tradition that is required in order for any social formation to operate.

Given that neither state nor market are able to supply various crucial local needs, we are seeing a natural return to mutual collaboration in order to make up for this lack - anything from voluntary-aided independent schools taking supposedly "impossible' students to cooperatives committed to keeping old bicycles in constant repair and renewed circulation.

It would be sheer ideological dogmatism - whether of the Right or of the Left - to suppose that this kind of development is an aberration: a sign that there isn't enough "genuine" capitalist enterprise on the one hand, or that the state is abrogating its responsibilities on the other.

On the contrary, there are inherent limits to any system's attempts to dispense with the role of trust and reciprocal assistance. Central planning cannot assess people's various local and changing needs, while the pursuit of profit leaves many genuine needs and demands totally unmet.

In addition, we should welcome the rise of the third sector because it vastly increases the instance of genuine, spontaneous and participatory democracy in operation. By contrast, the overwhelming evidence is that merely representative democracy has reduced the ordinary person's real decision-making power which can only come about through neighbourly collaboration.

Fixation on the ballot-box means that governments are increasingly able to manipulate the choices of individuals in a vulgar Benthamite manner that is supposed to increase their passive, consumerist "happiness." The population is in turn bought off with "welfare" which blinds them to the injustices of the workplace and releases them from any active thought as to what the pursuit of true education, true health and true care for others might really involve.

Participatory democracy, in the realms both of welfare and of co-operative and stakeholder enterprise, was in the British past (as elsewhere in Europe and the Americas and Australasia) almost entirely tied up with the practice of religion.

Frank Prochaska, in his compelling book Christian Social Service in Modern Britain: the Disinherited Spirit, has shown how, in Victorian Britain, this religious philanthropy was neither sporadic nor condescending. Rather it was all-pervasive and often done by the working class for the working class.

It allowed intimate and collaborative relationships between donors and beneficiaries; it guarded against loneliness; it ensured an holistic union of body and spirit when it came to schooling and nursing; it rendered domestic labour communal and collaborative and it encouraged far more communication across class boundaries than pertains today...

However, all this activity was in considerable measure intended to ameliorate the perceived evils of the market. Eventually, Christians in Britain came to realise that voluntary provision was not enough to protect against its ravages, especially after church infrastructure was decimated by two world wars.

Ironically, it was the religious tradition of welfare which itself played a big role, through the influence of William Temple and others, in erecting the welfare state which quite quickly destroyed this tradition and the moral energies which it had nurtured.

There are many important tensions around this event: the architects of the welfare state like William Beveridge and Clement Attlee meant it to be more mutualist than it has turned out to be; others wished that it had taken a different form, involving a systematic collaboration between voluntary and state agencies.

Indeed, there has always been a debate within Anglicanism between the statist Temple-tradition on the one hand, and the "Christendom" perspective of John Neville Figgis though to V.C. Demant and T.S. Eliot - deriving variously from the Oxford Movement, Radical Tory evangelicalism, non-statist Christian socialism and Catholic distributism - on the other...

To some degree, given the anarchy of the market and the sheer fluidity of modern life, the state takeover of welfare has been inevitable. However, it is equally true that this takeover has run into endlessly more problems, and that it has not halted a capitalist slide into renewed inequality.

There is something now rather pathetic about erstwhile radicals who think that the most "leftwing" thing to do is to try to shore up crumbling state enterprises that are in themselves merely flimsy defences against the rapacities of unconstrained profit-seeking.

It may seem as if state provision is more stable than voluntary mutualism. Yet in reality, state provision is completely subject to the vagaries of national fortune and the preparedness of tax-payers to pay.

The spurious idea of a "right" to welfare, to healthcare or to education allows us to forget that we are, in fact, dependent on the sense of duty of others and that these others require society, including us, to provide them in turn with resources if they are to be able to carry out these duties.

There is more genuine stability in well-established traditions of constant voluntary activity, if these are rooted in religious societies which have a comprehensive concern with the whole of human life - and so are, for this reason, themselves genuine "polities."

But of course there is the problem both of gaps and of coordination. It is for this reason that the state has a genuine role and that increasingly we are seeing hybrid arrangements.

One can fear, with Prochaska, that if much of the money for charities comes from state provision that they will fall under bureaucratic control. But on the other hand, if the state is itself relying on voluntary contributions, and on a more "hands-on" voluntary approach, then the influence can go in the other direction.

... To imagine that the state and not the Church is the proper supplier of mercy, education and health is, quite simply, a form of practical atheism, of sheer disbelief.

For what are the real motivations of the state after all (at least, after it has cast-off any lingering odour of British Hegelianism)? Surely they are to secure its economic and military might, combined with the desire to keep the populace in order through a neo-pagan deployment of bread and circuses?

It is, by contrast, only religion that is likely to care for the person as person - as someone possessed of an immortal spirit who is therefore "more" than any collectivist whole and who is to be considered an agent of duty as well as a recipient of rights."

John Milbank is Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of many books, including the highly influential Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd edition, 2005) and The Future of Love: Essays in Political Theology (Cascade Books, 2009).

CLICK HERE to read the full text of this article.

Social Enterprise Coalition Formation meeting 28 November 2011

The emerging social enterprise sector in Australia is large and diverse but lacks a peer-generated leadership and a public voice.

Consultation towards the formation of a public voice for social enterprise in Australia first began in 2009.
The UK and Scottish Social Enterprise Coalitions provided initial models for a leadership voice and common development tool. These models have been assessed and reworked to reflect Australian needs.
A formation meeting for the Australian Social Enterprise Coalition will be held on Monday 28 November 2011 in Melbourne (10am to 1pm).
Membership of the Coalition is open to all social enterprises who meet the eligibility criteria (below). There is no cost.

The Coalition's founding Statement of Purpose follows.

To join the Coalition, complete this online membership form

CLICK HERE to RSVP to attend the formation meeting on 28 November.

Statement of Purpose

1. A social enterprise is a market-based business for a social purpose. It may be for-profit or not-for-profit.

2. Social enterprises have a long history in Australia, but lack a peer-generated leadership, a public voice, and shared tools for strategic development and innovation.

3. The Social Enterprise Coalition will be a leadership vehicle and voice for social enterprises in Australia. Its governing body will be a Leadership Council comprising representatives from the main streams of social enterprise in Australia:   

    a. cooperatives and mutuals
    b. for-profits with a social purpose
    c. community sector ventures for a social purpose
    d. indigenous businesses and social enterprises
    e. rural community businesses and social enterprises
    f. environmental businesses and social enterprises
    g. consumer empowerment businesses

4. The Coalition will be a leadership vehicle and public voice, not a provider of services or member benefits. It will speak to governments and the general public on the value of social enterprise and engage them in the growth and development of the social enterprise sector.

5. The Coalition will advocate for major regulatory reform to create a favourable operating environment for social enterprise.

6. The Coalition will advocate for a key role for social enterprise in the reform of service delivery in health, education, community services, housing, indigenous affairs, rural affairs and environmental innovation.

7. The Coalition will advocate for a key role for social enterprise in reform of the Australian economy, in diversifying ownership, dispersing assets more broadly, and enhancing competition in all sectors.

To join the Coalition, complete this online membership form

CLICK HERE to RSVP to attend the formation meeting on 28 November.

Kate Lawrence  A national community-led disaster organisation

At the Fire and Rain conference in August 2011 on social innovation and community leadership in natural disaster responses, community participants spoke repeatedly of the marginalisation of community members in a field that relies principally on the community to achieve its goals. The experience of being one community voice in a room of 60 government voices is commonplace, and characterises  the deep imbalance between government and civil society in Australia's social development.

Participants undertook to explore the shape of a national community-based disaster organisation to right this imbalance.

Kate Lawrence [photo] is convening a working group on the development of a national community-based disaster organisation. It will meet on Tuesday 8 November in Melbourne, and will conduct a one-day workshop later in the year.

People interested in this project may indicate their interest by contacting Kate at info@civilsociety.org.au.

Street by Street  Recovering the art of neighbourliness

Street by Street is a national neighbourhood support program that links people who live in the same street or nearby.

The focus is on practical helping tasks
such as taking the bin in and out, hanging washing, getting a few items from the shops, or getting mail from the letter box. 

We would like to hear from individuals and organisations around the country interested in participating in rolling out Street by Street on a national scale.

Community centres, service clubs, neighbourhood houses, community health centres, scout and guide groups, and voluntary associations are some of the organisations participating in auspicing a local
Street by Street

An Information for Participants Kit is available here.

Our goal is 100 auspiced Street by Street groups by the end of 2011. And 1000 by the end of 2012.

Neighbours not volunteers

Participants in a Street by Street link-up are not volunteers, they are people in a voluntary relationship with their neighbours, as neighbours.

The aim of Street by Street is to recover the practice, and art, of neighbourliness. We don’t want to surround this activity with rules and regulations, nor do we want to subject participants to the usual procedures that volunteers in formal organizations are subject to. 
Street by Street is a very simple program that aims to re-kindle links between neighbours that might once have formed spontaneously but which, in our day and age, require a little facilitation. It is our intention to run
Street by Street as a simple informal network, operating on a very large scale across Australia.

More information is available at Street by Street.  

Information for Participants Kit is available here.

Joel Kotkin The Dispersionist Manifesto - A New Urban Vision  

"We live in an era of the heady drumbeat of urban triumphalism. In a world that is now, by some measures, predominately urban, observers like historian Peter Hall envision a “coming golden age” of great cities. It is time to look at such claims more closely, replacing celebratory urban legends with careful analysis. Although the percentage of people living in cities is certain to grow, much of this growth will be in smaller cities, suburbs and towns. And it is unclear whether extreme centralization and densification are either inevitable or desirable, for as cities get larger—both in the developed and developing world—they display a tendency to become increasingly congested, bifurcated by class and economically inflexible.

It may be time to propose a less gargantuan vision that is more humane for the vast majority of people. This alternative view embraces not cramming and concentration— the favored strategies of most planners, pundits, architectural stars and their urban land-owner enablers—but the protean development of more dispersed and less concentrated cities and suburbs.

The dispersionist viewpoint challenges the assumption that the bigger, more densely packed a city is, the better...

Much also can be done to make our dispersing geography more environmentally friendly. Recent studies by environmental scientists in Australia suggest that the carbon footprint of high-rise urban residents, contrary to the conventional wisdom, is higher than that of medium and low-density suburban homes, due to the cost of heating common areas such as parking garages, and the highly consumptive lifestyles of more affluent urbanites, a considerable number of whom own second residences in the countryside...

Instead of clinging to the idea that density and concentration are best, planners, architects and developers would do better to focus what appeals to the vast majority of the population, particularly the middle and working classes. Nurturing smaller, more efficient cities, as well as expansive suburbs and revived small towns, may prove far more practical and beneficial to society than imposing the manic agenda among planners, pundits and urban land speculators for relentless centralization."

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is author of The City: A Global History.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of this article. 

Colin Ball It's the community, stupid!
Colin Ball has been active in third sector organisations in the UK. West Africa, Malaysia and Australia for 40 years, and now lives in Brisbane.

He has just published It’s the community, stupid! In
this book, Colin sets out challenging new directions for the organisations that comprise Australia’s third sector.

These radical proposals include:   

scrapping ‘charitable law’ entirely, even expunging the word ‘charity’ from the sector’s vocabulary;
recognising instead that openness, inclusivity and ‘for the common good’ are the essential defining characteristics of third sector organisations;
distinguishing (when tax concessions and other benefits are given)
between genuinely independent organisations and those that have
become agents for the delivery of government welfare services;
ending the imperialist behaviour and attitudes of what Colin calls the big and powerful ‘institutionalised voluntary organisations’;
liberating people’s potential rather than regulating it.

Colin writes: "Numerous enquiries into and reviews of aspects of the work of Not-for-Profit organisations, or those of them known as 'charities', have gone on over the past 10 years and more. Never has so much effort produced so little change! But perhaps that is no bad thing because much of it started in the wrong place (mainly 'regulation'), and then headed in questionable directions (such as strengthening links between government and the sector via compacts)."

Colin argues that these reviews should begin with function and identity. He puts forward four features of organisations that should characterise entities in the third sector: voluntary; independent; not-for-profit; and Not self-serving in aims and values; and then asks how Australian NGOs measure up?

"Voluntary? there are some organisations that claim to be 'voluntary' but have actually come into existence because of a statutory requirement. They can be clearly distinguished as such and should not be entitled to call themselves or be seen and treated by others as voluntary organisations ...

Independent? Much government funding or organisations has for a long time been conditional upon the organisations doing things in ways and towards ends that are defined by government. In blunt terms this means that those organisations that accept such conditionalities are no longer independent ...

Not-for (personal or private) -profit or gain? Many organisations need to do some heart-searching on their practices insofar as this yardstick is concerned. I believe that many have become corrupted. Some of the signs of such corruption are:

    Mirroring either or both of the private and public sectors insofar as the    rate for the job' is concerned and especially insofar as the salaries of   senior staff are concerned.

    Getting into the payment of incentives, bonuses and 'performance-    related pay' to staff at any level.

    Hiring and firing staff indiscriminately in order to create cultures of fear within organisations.

    Having uncomfortably great disparities between the highest- and lowest paid staff in an organisation.

Not self-serving in aims and values? What we are trying to get at here is the inward-looking and exclusive tendencies of many types of community organisations. While such organisations as self-interest-promoting professional associations, gated communities and private schools might satisfy the 'voluntary', 'independent', and 'not-for-profit' aspects of the definition, they do not satisfy this one.... We need to break the mould that many organisations appear still to be shaped by: professional community and social/ community workers providing services (defined by them and /or their funders) for disadvantaged people. There are other models that offers ways to enable and encourage broad community engagement in working with disadvantaged groups.
The four defining characteristics - voluntary, independent, not-for-profit, not self-serving/ not restrictive - should be the basis on which we judge whether an organisation does or does not merit a place in this 'sector', and thus whether it qualifies for the privileges and benefits associated   with such a place...

To qualify for a place in the third sector (including being registered as a third sector organisation) the organisation much be able to demonstrate that it is all of voluntary; and independent; and not-for-profit; and not self-serving/ restrictive in membership.

That should be the basis on which the laws relating to the third sector are framed, and replace 'charitable law'. It should be called 'Third Sector Law'.

Perhaps the next greatest change that is needed is for the large organisations to stop practices that are harming communities and the efforts of their organisations. Some, indeed, have become the new colonialists: tendering for and establishing projects and program outlets in communities where they have no roots and little inclination to establish them.

An equally serious problem has been the willingness, indeed enthusiastic willingness, on many to cast aside their altruistic values and independence, in favour of becoming appendages of government and/ or mirror images of for-profit corporations.

Many have become supine servants of government, accepting without question whatever government asks of them. Many have moved, seemingly at lightning speed, through one giant leap, from being soup-kitchen-handout-old fashioned charities to 'dog-eats-dog', 'modern' competing service-providing corporations. In making such a transition the only thing that has not changed is the disempowering effect on people and communities of their provisions and services."

CLICK HERE to purchase a copy of this book ($30 inc delivery).

Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets  Expressions of Interest

A National Steering Group on Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets was established in May to exercise leadership and coordination across Australia in the development of self-directed services and personal    budgets in aged care, chronic and mental illness, disability, special    education and vocational training, and other areas of intensive personal and social support for individuals and families.

The brief of the Steering Group is to develop tools, systems, infrastructure, peer and professional supports for large numbers of Australians in exercising self-management in their personal and social supports.

Expressions of Interest are invited in the following areas:
Family-Management of Aged Care Packages
National Register of Aged Care Agencies Willing to Host Family-Managed Arrangements
Consumer/Family-Managed Support Models in Mental Health
Consumer/Family-Managed Care Budgets and Support Models in Chronic Illness
Families Wanting to Self-Manage Integration Aide Funding in Schools
Families Wanting to Self-Manage VET Funding
National Register of Schools and VET Agencies Willing to Host Family-Managed Arrangements
Consumer and Family-Management of Disability Supports
National Register of Disability Agencies Willing to Host Consumer/Family-Managed Arrangements
Web-Based Portal - A Technology Platform for Consumer and Family-Management in Aged Care, Chronic Illness, Mental Illness, Disability and Education
Matching Support Workers with Individuals Needing Support

CLICK HERE for further information on Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets.

Members of the Steering Group are:

Siegfried Drews (VIC) managed his wife Mardi's 24 hour care needs through a technology portal he designed himself to assist in the recruitment and direct employment of staff.
[photo, right: Siegfried]

Claire Rennox (QLD) worked on the introduction and ongoing implementation of Direct Payments in Scotland and is now working in Disability Services, Queensland with individuals who are utilising self directed care.

Lorraine Hitt (WA) is Chair of Planned Individual Networks in WA, is negotiating self-management arrangements for her 47 year old son with multiple disabilities, and works as a Local Area Coordinator with the Disability Services Commission.

Margaret Gray (VIC) is developing models for her 92 year old mother's EACH aged care package.

Trevor Parmenter (NSW) is Emeritus Professor and Foundation Chair of Developmental Disability at the University of Sydney and is a leading researcher and innovator in ageing, community living, and physical and mental health.

Ruth Robinson (NSW) is Executive Officer of the Physical Disability Council of NSW.

Peter Sparrow (SA) is CEO of the Carer Support and Respite Centre, and carer for his 21 year old step daughter who has physical and intellectual disabilities.

George Vassilou
(VIC) manages his ageing mother's care package and his 23 year old daughter Natasha's disability package.
[photo, right: George and his mother]

Wendy Hudson
(WA) is Manager of PolicyDevelopment and Quality Assurance at Alzheimer's Australia WA, and a long time advocate of self-directed care.

Colin Peterson (VIC) is Finance Manager of the Cerebral Palsy Support Network.

Sherryn West (QLD) is Business Services Manager for Micah Projects, developing individualised support arrangements for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness and mental illness.

Brian Wild (VIC) lives in Echuca and, together with his wife Lynne, manages the support packages of their adult sons with disabilities.

Livia Auer (ACT) is carer and legal guardian of her 32 year old sister Melanie who has an intellectual disability, and has recently begun managing Melanie's support package.

Peter Baker
(QLD) is Professor of Medicine at the University of Queensland's Rural Clinical School.

Annette Herbert
(SA) manages a support package for her 32 year old daughter Renee who has cerebral palsy and life threatening epilepsy.

Maree Ireland
(VIC) is a person with multiple disabilities and coordinates a project on self-directed approaches at field - furthering inclusive learning and development.

Ruth Davey
(SA) is a Director of Community Support and parent of a daughter with an intellectual disability participating in Phase 1 of self-managed funding in SA.

Christine Regan (NSW) is a parent of a 33 year old daughter with Down Syndrome, is Senior Policy Officer for Disability for the New South Wales Council of Social Services, and is secretary of the NSW Council on Intellectual Disability.

Leslee Hogan (QLD) lives in Atherton in Far North Queensland and manages a support package for her 25 year old son Paul who acquired a severe brain injury at the age of 20.

Kerry Hawkins (WA) is a family carer for her husband who has schizophrenia.

Suzette Gallagher (VIC) has managed her 45 year old son Shaun's disability package for 20 years.

Suzanne Haydon (NSW) is an innovator and film maker and carer for her ageing mother.

Deb Shipman
(NSW) lives in Coffs Harbour and is developing self-directed supports in ageing and disability through Mid North Coast Community Care Options.

Ian Bruce
(SA) is is a volunteer social advocate with experience in business who has managed a consumer-directed EACH package on behalf of his sister.

Miriam Dixon
(NSW) is CEO of Parkinson's NSW.

Sue Harrison
(VIC) is a parent of a 26 year old daughter with intellectual    disability and mental health issues, in receipt of a small respite package

Tracey Forster (VIC) is Manager of Self-Management Support at Goulburn Valley Health in Shepparton.

Coralie Jensen (NSW) is a parent of an adult son with an intellectual disability, and Chair of Side by Side Advocacy.

Sharon Van der Laan (WA) is Executive Director of the Genetic Support Council WA.

Jennie Somerville (NSW) is a survivor of mental illness and advocate for self-directed services in mental health.

Galina Kozoolin (VIC) is Aged Care Manager at South Eastern Region Migrant Resource Centre.

Ali Ayliffe (SA) is Manager of Care Services for Older People at UnitingCare Wesley.

Sam Mauchline (QLD) is a parent of a 40 year old son Paul requiring 24 hour support and care.

Jennifer Mollett (NSW) lives in Wollongong and has worked on self-directed services in New Zealand.

Vern Hughes (Convenor VIC) is a parent of two sons with autism and mental illnesses and Director of Social Enterprise Partnerships.


Volunteer  Three roles available with the Centre for Civil Society

The Centre for Civil Society is experiencing huge growth in the scope and scale of its activities. If you are looking for a volunteer role that is intellectually stimulating and practically challenging, we want to hear from you.

We have three roles for which we are seeking to appoint volunteers. Applicants are invited from all states and territories, for varying time commitments.

  • Events Organiser - assisting in the organisation of forums and conferences
  • Writer - mentoring and support is available in writing news and opinion pieces on various topics which fit the Centre's agenda
  • Administrative Assistant - assisting in various administrative, financial and database management tasks

If you have an interest in any of these roles, please send a CV along with a covering letter on your interest in the work of the Centre to Liz Stewart.

Organising by Federal Electorate
CLICK HERE to register in your electorate (there is no cost).

On registering, participants will be connected to an online forum in their electorate, and will receive access to resources and guidelines for local activity.

CLICK HERE for more information. 


March 26/27 2012: Reforming Public Services - Towards citizen-centred social policy and empowered users of public service
National Summit Melbourne.  



We are the only think tank
in Australia committed to a wide-ranging agenda of empowerment of ordinary people and strengthening
of civil society..

Visit our Website



Charles Leadbeater, Jamie Bartlett and Niamh Gallagher have authored this highly influential Demos Report on Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets. This small publication is set have a lasting impact on social policy debate for many years to come.

Charlie Leadbeater

Click here
to read Making It Personal.


Click here to purchase this book. $26.95

For purchases, contact
Audra Kunciunas
Tel 03 9878 3477 Email

Click here to purchase this book. $15.95


"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."

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

CLICK HERE to read more. 


Click here to purchase this book. $29.95

Click here to purchase this book.


Click here to purchase this book. $29.95
If you are the proprietor of a small business, please send us your thoughts on how we can support small businesses through our  SMALL BUSINESS SURVEY

If you are caring for a family member at home who has an illness or disability or aged frailty, please click here to participate in our  Family CarERS SURVEY

 Alternative to school-teaching and unemployment. What the dejobbed, rightsized     and decruited become. Something to do after politics or sport. Lifestyle  incorporated. The plague-rats of managerialism. 

 'So that said, you can get consulting work knowing very little, as long as you can do what the client is paying you to do, and do it well.'   - The Consultant's Consultant

 (Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Clichés, Cant & Management Jargon, page 84.)



The Centre brings together people in each federal electorate (150 electorates around Australia) to work locally in engaging our communities and our  representatives in an agenda of respect, empowerment, inclusion.

CLICK HERE to join us



Charles Leadbeater, Jamie Bartlett and Niamh Gallagher have authored this highly influential Demos Report on Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets. This small publication is set have a lasting impact on social policy debate for many years to come.

Charlie Leadbeater

Click here
to read Making It Personal.


brings together people in each federal electorate (150 electorates around Australia) to work locally in effecting change and influencing policy and opinion, with a special focus on disability, mental health education,
and family carer issues.

CLICK HERE to join us


Click here to purchase this book.

This collection of essays is  available
online here.