Centre for Civil Society
 Empowering consumers, families and communities

Organisation   Projects   Membership   Director   Contacts



We bring people together in each federal electorate (150 electorates around Australia) to work locally in engaging our communities and our  representatives in an agenda of empowerment of ordinary people and strengthening of civil society.
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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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Mutualism, Third Way Thinking

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"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. 


Community building NATIONAL NETWORk

A NATIONAL NETwork of community builders



Neighbourhood Power
is an initiative of the City of Wodonga in north east Victoria. It is a practical exercise in devolving power to neighbours that deserves to be replicated in communities around Australia.

Tracey Farrant coordinates Neighbourhood Power in Wodonga. This is how she describes the project:

"Imagine a city that is rich with neighbourhoods  – I:\Community Development\Community Planning\Neighbourhood Power\Project Management\Website\Photos\Tree Planting.JPGParents help each other with child minding, potluck dinners on Friday nights, at a different house each week. Families take turns at updating the neighbourhood notice boards with local birthdays, activities and bits of news. A street that owns a set of pink plastic flamingo’s that turn up in a different front yard each week and children make great detours walking to school to include this street in the journey because it’s so  much fun finding the flamingos. Adults and teenagers working together to fix the neighbourhood children’s broken bikes. Young people giving impromptu concerts in local parks on weekends.

In Wodonga, we acknowledge that the potential for this fantastic picture already exists within the imagination, skills and capacities of our local neighbourhoods.

But instead of the traditional approach of “harnessing” all this potential and “leading” our people forward, Neighbourhood Power is putting the leadership and power firmly back into the hands of our residents. It’s up to our residents to come forward with their visions and dreams and plans – our role is to walk along side our community people and act as guide, enabler, facilitator and capacity builder. Quite a different approach!

One of the key tools to this new development approach is our matching grants scheme. The concept of matching grants is acknowledging that communities are full of fantastic assets, skills and talents.  With a few dollars, and courage on council’s behalf to get out of the way and let people get on with their own projects, not only does the city get infrastructure and community development outcomes, but also improved relationships, real community ownership of the city and a higher level of democratic involvement.

What is a matching grant?

To qualify for a matching grant, a group of neighbours come up with a project, request a grant, and match the grant dollars with a contribution of their own.

For example, 4 neighbours decide that there are a number of new people in their area that they don’t know. They get together one Saturday afternoon and plan a bbq event...They can apply for up to $x from the matching fund to supply food, entertainment, decorations etc.

This same concept works for activities such as playground upgrades, traffic calming activities, environmental projects, public art projects. The list is as long as the imagination.

We are thinking long term with this project and so have also developed a young neighbour fund to build and motivate the interest of young people in civic engagement. The fund provides funding for young people to receive education, training or mentoring that will give them the skills and confidence to participate in their local neighbourhood.

We have received some great advice and support from Jim Diers from the Department of Neighbourhoods in Seattle and are motivated and enthusiastic about growing this program into a way of life in Wodonga."


We would like to hear from individuals and organisations around the country interested in pressing their municipality to introduce Neighbourhood Power.

Our aim is to get 50 local councils across the country to take up Neighbourhood Power.

Further information will be posted in the members section of the Community Building National Network, including resources and contacts for people sharing this interest and wanting to work together.

Register your interest in participating by using the form below.Community Building National Network

Further information:

Vern Hughes
03 9824 4713

Registration Form



Phone  (bh)     Phone (ah) 



  I would like to participate in Neighbourhood Power in my community.

  I would like to participate in a campaign to get 50 local councils
(including mine) to take up Neighbourhood Power.


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 © Centre for Civil Society 2007-2009


for details of our campaign for a Real Education Revolution.


CLICK HERE for info on the National 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.
Mutualism, Third Way Thinking

CLICK HERE to find out more.


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Family Carers
There are 2.7million family carers of people with a disability, a chronic or mental illness, or aged frailty in Australia. They are invisible to politicians and policy makers. Read more...
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