Why We Need a Peak Body for NSW & ACT Social Enterprises
There are an estimated 20,000 social enterprises in Australia, operating in a wide range of industries, including health and social assistance, transport and storage, manufacturing, accommodation and food services. Some are owned or run by not-for-profit organisations, while others are the projects of social entrepreneurs.
Social enterprise is growing and making an important contribution to creating a more diverse and inclusive economy, including providing employment and access to services for disadvantaged Australians.
To support this growth sustainably, and the development of a more diverse and inclusive economy overall, a range of support mechanisms are required, including, but not limited to, national and State based strategies for social enterprise, appropriate legal structure and access to finance and markets.
To build these support mechanisms, several State based Councils and Networks have/are forming.
In Queensland, QSEC (Queensland Social Enterprise Council) exists to foster a vibrant, innovative and capable social enterprise sector that is sufficiently resourced and supported to achieve high social, cultural and environmental impact. QSEC is an incorporated Association and represents ordinary and associate members. It has a democratically elected management committee.
In Victoria, SENVic (Social Enterprise Network Victoria) is a state-wide practitioner-led network established in mid-2018 by nine founding members, all of whom are leading social enterprises. SENVIC’s purpose is to support the establishment of a thriving social enterprise sector in Victoria.
A social enterprise network has also formed in South Australia and the Social Enterprise Network for the Tropics (SENT) has also been established.
The combined actions of active State based social enterprise networks will inevitably encourage the establishment of a national social enterprise strategy and agenda. However, there is currently no State/Territory wide network for social enterprises in NSW and ACT. While there are some city and regionally based networking groups, for example Sydney Social Enterprise Exchange and ACT Social Enterprise Peer Network these are largely volunteer run and unable to effectively advocate for and represent the social enterprise sector.
It’s time a Social Enterprise Council or Network was established in NSW and ACT. Modelled on similar initiatives already operating in Queensland and being formed in Victoria (QSEC and SENVic respectively), this organisation would advocate for and represent the social enterprise sector – a peak body for NSW and ACT social entrepreneurs by NSW and ACT social entrepreneurs.
Ultimately, this organisation will be part of fostering a more diverse and inclusive economy, including providing employment and access to services for disadvantaged Australians.
The good news is things are in motion.
The creation process for a Social Enterprise Council or Network for NSW and ACT has kicked off with an Expression of Interest round, where those social entrepreneurs and enterprises keen to become founding members are invited to express interest and provide input on how the process of selection should be undertaken.
If you’re interested in getting involved, please complete the form here by Thursday 18th July. All those that complete the form will be invited to attend/participate in a catalysing meeting to collectively decide what form this organisation is to take, and which social entrepreneurs and enterprises will lead on its further development.