Reviving the Co-op Movement

National Conference and Design Lab
Melbourne  |  May 23 2016

Australia once had a flourishing social movement of co-operatives, mutuals and community self-help. It embodied our CAN-DO spirit and egalitarian ethos.

Where is the movement now? Can it be revived?

An Invitation to Participate

In the 1880s, Australia was known as the ‘social laboratory of the world’. We were perhaps the most innovative, egalitarian and democratic country on earth. Community self-help through co-operatives and mutuals, and an early achievement of parliamentary democracy, combined to drive this reputation.

Large parts of Western Queensland, the Riverland in South Australia, and rural NSW were developed through community settlement cooperatives – member-owned, community-oriented property development associations backed by their own supportive colonial/state legislation. Today, we allow nouveau riche property developers to dictate community settlement patterns on the fringes of our cities and to bankroll political parties to protect their business model. Australians are not quite as innovative and egalitarian as we used to be.

From the middle years of the nineteenth century, Australia had a flourishing social movement of credit unions, housing societies, bush nursing associations, community pharmacies, adult education centres (mechanics’ institutes), retail stores, mutual insurance societies, farmer-owned businesses, community clubs, musical and arts societies, building societies and subscription-based medical care. Today, this social movement has all but disappeared.

Many of the societies and businesses still exist, but the movement has not. Some societies were captured from without in the 1980s, through takeovers and demutualisations. Most, however, were conquered from within, through management capture of the operations and then culture of the societies, in part to satisfy external regulators who were unsympathetic to the mutual model, and in part to ‘fit in’ with the managerial ethos of the wider business world. Strong leadership from the societies to represent their distinctive cultures to governments, politicians and journalists who were immersed in the binary world of public sector/private sector identities, was all too rare.

And yet, Australians, like citizens and communities around the world, are now crying out for businesses that integrate financial sustainability and social obligations, and create market advantages for local communities. Policy makers are now searching for approaches to social and economic reform that are anchored in communities, build ownership and mutual responsibility, and generate social capital. At the very time when our cooperative movement is most needed, we are unable to find it.

This conference will explore what happened to Australia’s once flourishing movement of cooperatives, mutuals and community self-help, and examine how this social movement might be revived. It will explore initiatives and strategies which can drive a revival. It’s format is part conference and part design lab, with an emphasis on strategic initiatives for change.

Call for Papers and Contributions

Papers, presentations, workshops and strategic proposals are invited which address the conference theme, including the following topics:

  • Conceptual understandings and theorisation of cooperatives and mutuals
  • Solidarity enterprises and online platform cooperatives
  • Social movements and enterprise
  • Leadership in the cooperative sector
  • Member governance and its challenges
  • Management capture of cooperative and mutual organisations
  • Co-operation, neo-liberalism and managerialism
  • Emerging demand for cooperative and mutual models
  • New models for representation
  • The impact of consultancy businesses on social movements
  • External regulation and cooperative cultures
  • External investment in community and cooperative ventures
  • Rural regeneration and cooperatives
  • Urban and suburban cooperation

Expressions of interest in presenting a paper or workshop or proposal should be forwarded, in no more than 300 words, by 30 April 2016, using this online form.



Two Days in May 2016

This conference on Monday 23 May 2016 forms part of a series of reform events hosted by Civil Society Australia in 2016. Two events will be held in May 2016. Participants may attend one or both of these as they wish.

Monday 21 May 2016
Reviving the Co-op Movement
Cooperatives, Mutuals and Community Self-Help

Tuesday 22 May 2016
Red Tory, Blue Labour and Australian Politics
Political Parties and Civil Society

CLICK HERE for further information.


The Angliss Conference Centre is located in the Melbourne CBD, on the corner of LaTrobe and King Streets, on the fifth floor. It is close to train and tram services. Flagstaff railway station is one block away in LaTrobe St, and Southern Cross station is three blocks away in Spencer St. Trams 23, 24, 30, 34, and City Circle run along LaTrobe Street.

There are numerous accommodation options close by, to suit all budgets.

Start and Finish Times

Both events begin at 9.15am, finishing at 5.00pm.

CLICK HERE to register for one or both of these events.

Further Information

CLICK HERE for further information.

CLICK HERE for Civil Society Australia website.

The Power of Many – Conference 2015


The Power of Many conference is about collaboration: we are focusing on sparking new ideas and action and have built in many opportunities for networking and collaboration between sectors, organisations and people to drive both business and community focused solutions.

The conference will also celebrate the launch of our new name, CoAct, and we have planned two days of exciting and inspiring events which we’d love you to be part of.

The Illawarra Forum Conference; ‘Success …or Something Like It’

Picture1The Illawarra Forum Conference; ‘Success …or Something Like It’ will be held on the 10th & 11th March 2015 at The Pavilion in beautiful Kiama.

The conference will build on the last two conferences in which we explored the status of our Industry, and addressed the challenge of establishing ourselves as an equal partner in the economic and social future of the region

Now it’s time to take a look at Success and what it means.

We are extremely proud and excited to bring a stellar line up of speakers including:

  • Hon. Kristina Keneally  – first female Premier of New South Wales
  • Kathryn Greiner AO – Former politician, community leader and Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Ageing
  • Brian Smith – CEO Local Community Services  Assoc
  • Greg Peel – CEO Community Sector Banking
  • Julie Foreman- Executive Officer, The Tenants Union
  • ..and many, many more

The conference also provides an opportunity to explore the actions from The Roadmap for the Future of Community Services in the Illawarra:

This event will be a must for leaders from the community, government, and business sectors, as well as managers, board or committee members, and staff from non-government organisations, and students hoping to join the industry.

Registrations are now open, and I urge you to register attendance as soon as possible; as places are limited. More details, and registration link here.

Illawarra Forum News | Feb 2015

Picture2We are happy to announce that registration is now open through Trybooking for our 2015 Annual Conference, ‘Success or Something Like It.’

More information on speaker highlights available on the Conference Webpage

Program is coming soon but we can promise an exciting line up of speakers and contributors. Continue to check our conference webpage for regular updates

For further information contact Tessa Parsons 4256 4333 or email


Illawarra and South Coast Youth Services Conference

It’s that time of year again and organisation for the Illawarra and South Coast Youth Services Conference is well underway. The conference is in its 16th year of operation and continues to be an affordable and responsive training opportunity for local professionals working with young people in a variety of services and organisations.

In 2014 the conference is scheduled for Wednesday 29th and Thursday, 30th of October at Coolangatta Wine Estate Shoalhaven Heads.

Please see attached  the 2014 Conference Program outline. We have organised interactive and interesting workshops that are aimed to increase your networks and provide training on contemporary issues.

Training starts with our keynote speaker for day one being  Mel Brown, the Director of Spirit Dreaming Australia. Mel has spent over 20 years working in the areas of alternative therapies, and specialises in providing Aboriginal counselling, spiritual healing and wellbeing programs for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. As a Professional Speaker, Mel has presented workshops and papers at many National and International conferences across Australia. As an Artist, Mel has established herself as a recognised Aboriginal Artist, and is the sole creator and designer of the Aboriginal Spirit Oracle Cards.

We also welcome a keynote by : Prof Sandra Jones, ARC Future Fellow Director, Centre for Health and Social Research, Australian Catholic University who will talk about Alcohol advertising and how young people get sucked in and how can we counteract these messages

Professor Gordian Fulde, Director, Emergency Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney will facilitate a workshop on the effects and impact of ice and other drugs from an ED perspective.

On day 2 best-selling author, motivational speaker and child advocate Dr Michael Davey  will inspire us.  In 2012, Michael’s autobiography, Journey of Hope, became an Australian best seller he now tries inspire others to make a difference in the lives of Australia’s youth.

In addition to great keynote speakers we have a terrific program of training for people working with youth. The Youth Services Conference provides workers an opportunity to participate in dynamic and interactive training that will inspire conversation and increase practical skills. Workshops and networking provide ideal opportunities to learn, engage and interact with other industry professionals.

WEB REGISTRATION for the conference is NOW OPEN.

To REGISTER  your attendance follow the steps listed below:

FIRST – Go to


  1. Download the 2014 Conference Program & 2014 Code of Conduct link on the Registration page
  2. Choose your workshop preferences
  3. Fill out rego form on the website making sure all fields marked with an asterisk (*)  are correctly filled out, ENTER the requested code and submit.

When you have submitted your registration, a confirmation email will be sent to you within 3 working days. If you do not receive a confirmation email within this time, your registration has not been successful.

If this happens please call 42952209 or email  for registration assistance


Following a successful Registration, a tax invoice will be sent to the email address indicated in your registration.

Payment option one: Cheque

Please return payment with a copy of the Tax Invoice (cheques payable to: Albion Park Youth & Community Care – Conference)

Payment option two: Direct deposit

Details for Direct Deposit payments will be forwarded on your invoice. ALL direct deposits must note the Conference Registration invoice number on the deposit record to assist us with record keeping.

If you require further information about this year’s conference, lack access to technology to register or have any trouble with access to the site please contact Berenice Murphy on 42 952209 or via

Indigenous Conference Services | Invitation to Cairns, Queensland, Australia

2014 National Indigenous Women Conference | 2014 National Indigenous Men’s Conference

Cairns 13- 15 October | Cairns on 13- 15 October

Indigenous Conference Services (ICS) is breaking new grounds with the establishment of the annual Indigenous Men’s and Women’s Conferences which was planned to be a yearly event sparking new interest from an unexpected vast number of Indigenous organizations from outside of Australia so much that international indigenous groups have shown keen interests in participating and registered for both the 2014 National Indigenous Men’s and Women’s Conferences in Cairns.

As such, ICS has taken the initiative position to invite a maximum of six international First Nation’s speakers at this year’s national event. This is not to say that our First nation’s brothers and sisters from overseas are not able to register as delegates and participate; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Plans have been formulated to make both the men’s and women’s conferences to become full blown international events.

As such, expressions of interest are now being sought from community groups and individuals who would wish to be part of the organizing community however dates and venue for the 2015 World Indigenous Men’s Conference and the 2015 World Indigenous Women’s Conference has not been chosen at this point in time. Because of the federal government’s tough budgets, no funding will be sought from any funding bodies. The conferences will be self funded with the initial capital for the events coming from ICS itself.

Moreover, we believe a perfect platform has been established with grass-roots communities being the driving force for both the 2014 National Indigenous Men’s and 2014 National Indigenous Women’s Conferences.

To further encourage participation, a 25% discount on registration fees for the 2015 World Indigenous Men’s Conference and the 2015 World Indigenous Women’s Conference will be offered to delegates who attend this year’s event. We have many exciting guest speakers for the men’s and women’s conferences however we would like to highlight two great speakers to spark your interests.

STEVE WIDDERS is one of the motivational speakers at the 2014 Indigenous Men’s Conference. Steve is a descendant of the Anaiwan /Kamiloaroi people of Northern NSW (Armidale/Moree). He was declared medically and legally blind by the late Professor Fred Hollows at age 35. Steve will share his personal story of how he overcame severe depression, mental anguish, isolation and even suicidal ideation due to the restrictions and limitations which come with a disability. Though blind, Steve sees himself as a Man of Vision and prefers to talk of his Ability rather than his Disability. He walked the Kokoda Track in 2011 to honour Aboriginal soldiers who fought there during WW2 and rode a tandem bicycle between Brisbane and Sydney to promote men’s health and well being. Steve is one of the 2013 NSW Senior’s Week Ambassador, a member of the NSW Disability Council, the NSW Police Advisory Council and the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC).

ANDREW THORP Men’s Project Manager Beyond Blue | Andrew Thorp, beyondblue’s Men,s Project Manager is responsible for Federal Government projects targeting men, including Man Therapy and the “Proppa Deadly” project targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The aim of these projects is to ‘encourage men to take action against anxiety and depression’. Andrew is heading towards 15 years’ experience in population health planning, with a particular interest in men and priority populations. In addition, Andrew has several years’ experience in the community broadcasting sector which assisted in informing the development of the “Proppa Deadly” project.

JIMMY PERRY Makin’ Tracks Project Officer Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA) Inc | Jimmy Perry is one of two Indigenous drug and alcohol workers in the Makin’ Tracks Project of Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (SA) Inc. He received a Masters of Indigenous Health (Substance Use). Jimmy’s heritage is Ngarrindjerri/ Arrernte. Jimmy’s main role is to travel to communities assisted by the Makin’ Tracks team in tackling and addressing substance misuse issues within the communities.

Furthermore, one of the exciting guest speakers for the 2014 Indigenous Women’s Conference is Statehood, Women’s HON. LINDA BURNEY Deputy Leader NSW Labor PartyShadow Minister, Family & Community Services; Early Childhood Education and Aboriginal Affairs New South Wales.Linda was elected Member for Canterbury in 2003, appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Training in 2005, joined Cabinet as Minister for Fair Trading, Youth and Volunteering in 2007, promoted Minister for Community Services in 2008 and in 2009 she was appointed Minister for the State Plan as well as Minister for Women.  She was also the Coordinating Minister for the Department of Human Services: the umbrella agency for the portfolios of community services, housing, ageing, disability and home care, juvenile justice and Aboriginal Affairs.

HANNAH TAIT NEUFELD, Banting Postdoctoral Research Fellow Indigenous Health Lab, Western University Canada For the past 20 years, Hannah has worked internationally with Indigenous women and children on the revitalization of traditional foods and medicines in northeastern Brazil and central Java, Indonesia. In southern Ontario, Canada, she has also assisted in the creation of a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to providing agricultural, environmental and cultural programs to children and families, and was the director of community development programming with the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

BERNADETTE L. PIZZEY, Author Ontario Indian Friendship Centre Canada Bernadette was born November, 1960 in Edmonton Alberta, Canada.  Bernadette is Metis.  She grew up in a German/Irish home and her biological father is Cree.  She attended North Island College in Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada and completed the “Office Administration,” “General Office Management” and “Legal Office Administration” certificates in the, “Business Technology Administrations” Program.  She also has a Social Welfare Certificate, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, and is currently completing her fourth year of the Bachelors in Social Work Degree at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario.  She is currently on field placement at the Ontario Indian Friendship Centre.  Upon completion of her Bachelors of Social Work Degree, she plans to pursue her Masters of Social Work. As and emerging scholar, she recently published her first book, “Traveling Truths: Highway Memoirs” (2013) and is working on her second book, “Traveling Truths: Bus People”.  Bernadette is passionate about her writing and is determined to fulfill her personal and academic aspirations.  She has surpassed many obstacles in her life and one of her favorite phrases is: “The abuser does not determine who I am, God does.”   The conference has many more great motivational speakers.

Indigenous Conference Services is also proud to host two great world conferences the 2014 World Indigenous Health Conference and the World Indigenous Domestic Violence Conference. Both conferences will be held in the heart of tropical Queensland, Australia at Cairns Pullman International Hotel, gate way to the Great Barrier Reef. We wish to extend a formal invitation to you and your organisation to take part in this extraordinary chance to present on a national and international stage. Each conference is designed to be an excellent tool in network building, information sharing and thought provoking discussions as well as aim to provide a culturally safe environment that people from all walks of life can participate in a frank and open forum.

The 2014 World Indigenous Domestic Violence Conference is designed to be the largest international gathering of Indigenous and non Indigenous peoples with an interest in stopping Domestic Violence within Indigenous communities. Our goal in hosting this conference is to highlight positive outcomes of various community programs that impacts Indigenous families on a day to day basis dealing with issues of domestic violence within our communities. full

The 2014 World Indigenous Health Conference is based upon the principal belief that indigenous health must be approached from a holistic view, which encumbers body, mind and spirit; thus, leading to the fundamental rights of self-determination. The conference recognizes that treating our health must be done by treating the whole person, through mind, body, soul and culture. No matter what your culture is, if you are a First Nations person, statistics show, health, education or the justice system is monstrously weighted against indigenous people. In today’s society, indigenous people have a varied lifestyle, ranging from inner-city to isolated communities.

For all the details about please visit the conference website or send us an email at For further information visit the event website

CAIRNS, QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA | World Indigenous Domestic Violence Conference 2014 | 8-10 December

World Indigenous Health Conference 2014 | 15th – 17th December

Paint the Town REaD Conference | Call for Papers

Picture1 Picture25th National Conference

Making Waves – Early Literacy & Collective Impact

Wollongong 25- 27 March 2015

Call for Papers

Paint the Town REaD Ltd together with Paint the Gong REaD and Paint Shellharbour REaD invites people skilled in early literacy and/or collective impact to submit abstracts for workshops, or poster displays.

Foundational early literacy starts from birth and is critical for future success in school and life. Our role as educators, librarians, community and early intervention workers is to inspire and encourage children and parents in their literacy journey.
The collective impact model provides a framework with which to build a collaborative process for community change and address social issues. It harnesses the power of partnerships, collaboration and innovation, bringing people/organisations together around a common agenda to solve a specific social problem using a structured form of collaboration. In our case- early literacy.

Paint the Town REaD (PTTR) Ltd is an early literacy collective impact charity whose aim is to encourage all levels of the community to support the development of children’s early literacy skills from birth. Communities across Australia have found this the most exciting and innovative way to make these critical changes.

Keynote Speakers

  • Kerry Graham – Principal Consultant, Collective Impact in Australia Associate, Centre for Social Impact | How collective impact can be translated into the Australian context in relation to Paint the Town Read.
  • Dr Amanda Howard – Program Convenor School of Humanities & Social Science, University of Newcastle | Asset based community development and early literacy.
  • June McLoughlin. – Director Family & Children’s Services, Doveton College & Board Director – Early Learning Association Australia and ACECQA | “Together we can make a difference” The development of this initiative, including policy and implementation challenges, achievements to date including the implementation of Paint the Town REaD.
  • Paul Prichard – Co Manager of the Training & Development Team for the Centre for Community Child Health (CCH) Royal Children’s Hospital Victoria |“Working with and through parents NOT to and for them. Transformations through peer led parenting interventions”.