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Flying the Flag: Social Enterprise at Parliament House

In a important gathering at Parliament House, Social Enterprise Australia and Social Traders spearheaded an event that brought together key players from the government and various sectors. This collaboration aimed to highlight and further the role of social enterprises in tackling some of Australia’s most critical social and environmental challenges.

The event marked a significant milestone in recognising the potential of social enterprises as vehicles for social and environmental innovation. Discussions revolved around how these organisations can create employment opportunities, provide care for both people and the planet, and fill gaps in products or services, especially in areas where markets are thin or communities are disadvantaged.

A central theme of the evening was the call for the Australian Government to develop a comprehensive Commonwealth Social Enterprise Strategy. Such a strategy would be built on a foundation of partnership between the sector, government, and other stakeholders, emphasising certification, evidence-based approaches, social procurement, impact investment, outcome payments, and capability-building. This holistic approach aims to strengthen the ecosystem for social enterprises, enabling them to thrive and expand their impact.

The need for the government to invest in and work collaboratively with Australia’s social enterprise peak body was another key recommendation. A partnership of this kind is crucial for designing, implementing, and refining social enterprise initiatives that align with the sector’s needs and contribute to its growth and sustainability. As such a pivotal request made during the event was for specific funding and support for Social Enterprise Australia as the national peak body for social enterprises. Unlike state peaks, which seek their funding from state governments, Social Enterprise Australia advocates for a cohesive national strategy and resources to empower the social enterprise sector across the country.

The event featured insightful contributions from several speakers, including Jess Moore, CEO of Social Enterprise Australia, and Tara Anderson, CEO of Social Traders, who highlighted the opportunities and investments needed to unlock the full potential of social enterprises. The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, and Assistant Minister for Employment, shared why the government is throwing its support behind social enterprises. Eloise Hall, Co-founder and Managing Director of Taboo Period Products and Treasurer of South Australia’s Social Enterprise Council, spoke about the tangible impact social enterprises create. Minister Vicki Ward, Victorian Minister for Employment and Victorian Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, shared insights into the Victorian Government’s experience working with social enterprises.

The event also served as a platform to acknowledge the momentum building within the federal government towards supporting social enterprises, as evidenced by the strong commitment and engagement shown over the past year. This was Social Traders’ second showcase event in Canberra in collaboration with Social Enterprise Australia, underscoring the growing recognition and backing for social enterprises at the federal level.

Special thanks were extended to all the speakers, including Julian Hill, Dr Daniel Mulino, and other supporters who joined the event. Their participation and insights are invaluable steps forward in the journey towards leveraging social enterprises for the greater good.

As we reflect on the discussions and recommendations from the event, there’s a palpable sense of optimism about the future of social enterprises in Australia. With continued collaboration between the government, the sector, and other stakeholders, there’s immense potential to harness social enterprises’ unique capabilities. Together, we can address pressing challenges, create meaningful job opportunities, and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable society.

The collective efforts and insights shared during this event lay a solid foundation for future actions. As we look forward to turning these opportunities into tangible outomes, the path ahead for social enterprises in Australia looks promising, fueled by a shared commitment to making a difference in people’s lives and the health of our planet.

Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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