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.
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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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"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.

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A leadership and public voice for social enterprise in Australia

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 a model for a peer-generated leadership voice and strategic development tool for the emerging social enterprise sector in Australia.

A formation meeting for the Australian Social Enterprise Coalition was held on Monday 28 November 2011 in Melbourne.

Membership of the Coalition t/a Social Enterprise Australia is open to all social entrepreneurs and social enterprises who meet the eligibility criteria (below). There is no cost. Social Enterprise Australia is a lean development-oriented innovation-focussed network - it is not a provider of services or member benefits, nor is it a consultancy.

Our founding Statement of Purpose appears below.

To join the Coalition, complete this online membership form.

A Leadership Council was appointed at the formation meeting. Interest in joining the Leadership Council may be expressed through the online membership form below.

Leadership Council

The members of the inaugural Leadership Council of Social Enterprise Australia are:

Nick Savaidis  Etiko Fair Trade VIC
Cynthia Nadai  Balmain/Rozelle Community Bank NSW
Dianne Batterham  Westgate Health Cooperative VIC
Chris Mason  Swinburne University VIC
Aloma Fennell  The Senior Agenda NSW
Cameron Price  Diversitat VIC
Chris Burrell  Educare NSW
Tim Goh  Life Expedition VIC
Simon Cox  Hope Street NSW
Susanna Chamberlain Griffith University QLD
Gautum Raju  OurSay Australia VIC
Paul Bishop  Arts Evolution QLD
Dan Petrovic  Dejan SEO  VIC

Vern Hughes  Social Enterprise Partnerships VIC

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. The social enterprise sector in Australia is large and diverse but lacks a peer-generated leadership, a public voice, and shared tools for strategic development and innovation.

3. The Australian Social Enterprise Coalition t/a Social Enterprise Australia 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. Social Enterprise Australia 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. Social Enterprise Australia will advocate for major regulatory reform to create a favourable operating environment for social enterprise.

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


Membership of Social Enterprise Australia is open to all social enterprises that meet the following eligibility criteria:

Applicants for membership must:

1. Be an independent business;

2. Have traded for more than one year and earn 50% or more of its income from trading;

3. Allocate a significant proportion of profit for social or community or environmental benefit.

To join the Coalition, complete this online membership form.

The following table outlines the types of evidence that may be required.

An eligible enterprise will: Notes/Explanation
Be an independent business
A social enterprise must be an independent business and not part of the public or charitable sector. If it has an auspicing body that is a public authority (such as a municipality, health organisation, or university), or a community organisation (such as welfare agency, sporting club, or arts body) then evidence may be required that the social enterprise is a separate trading entity with  independent governance, and is not merely a fundraising vehicle for the auspice body.
Have traded for a minimum of one year and earn 50% or more of its income from
The social enterprise must earn 50% or more of its income through trading.

Trading is defined as ‘the direct exchange of goods and services’.

This definition of trading excludes government grants, philanthropic grants and donations.
Distribute all or a significant proportion of profit for social or community or environmental benefit Evidence may be required of how the business distributes profit.

If income is distributed to individual members or shareholders who have a co-operative form of participation in the business, then this is, in itself, socially beneficial. If income is otherwise distributed to individuals, then evidence is required that at least 50% of profit is distributed for social or community or environmental benefit.

Where investors receive a share of profits from a business, evidence may be required that at least 50% of profit is distributed for social benefit before returns are distributed to investors.

To join the Coalition, complete this online membership form.


Vern Hughes
PO Box 159 Yarraville Vic 3013
Tel: 0425 722 890


 © Centre for Civil Society 2009 -2012

Social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals make up a significant but often ignored component of the Australian economy
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Our 665,000 voluntary community groups are without a Voice. 
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We bring people together in 150 local divisions around Australia to work locally in representing and empowering civil society.
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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.