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Social Innovation Alive and Well in Australia

11 February 2011 at 3:38 pm
Staff Reporter
The public profile of social enterprise in Australia continues to rise, with the School for Social Entrepreneurs awarded the inaugural Macquarie Social Innovation Award.

Staff Reporter | 11 February 2011 at 3:38 pm


Social Innovation Alive and Well in Australia
11 February 2011 at 3:38 pm


Above : The Finalists from left: John Burn – Many Rivers Opportunities; Alex Shead – Fair Business; Shakthi Sivanathan – CuriousWorks; Benny Callaghan – School for Social Entrepreneurs; David Clarke (Chairman of the Macquarie Foundations); Di Winkler – Summer Foundation;  Matthew Lang – Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, Brisbane;
The public profile of social enterprise in Australia continues to rise, with the School for Social Entrepreneurs awarded the inaugural Macquarie Social Innovation Award.

Just two weeks after social entrepreneur Simon McKeon was named Australian of the Year, The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) – an Australian Not for Profit organisation dedicated to the development and increased capacity of social entrepreneurs – has been awarded the inaugural $100,000 Macquarie Social Innovation Award for 2010.

The $100,000 grant that comes with the Award will be shared between the SSE and six of its students. The SSE will receive $40,000 over the next two years to support its operations, while six SSE students will receive Fellowships of $10,000 to help them develop their own social enterprises.

The bi-annual Award is designed to recognise and reward an Australian organisation or program aimed at meeting local social needs by offering inventive solutions.

Benny Callaghan, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, says the award will assist the School in building important scale and reaching a wider audience.

Callaghan says the grant will provide critical seed funding to six outstanding social entrepreneurs to kick start their ideas.

Callaghan says being part of a Social Innovation Award with entries that span the fields of health, social business, disability, arts, youth, micro-finance, digital media and more, demonstrates how alive and well social innovation is in this country.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs CEO Benny Callaghan receives the Award from the judges.

He says although the SSE has only been in Australia for two years, they have already had over sixty entrepreneurs come through our program.

He says as the SEE students have often experienced the challenges they are trying to address, they have a great deal of integrity and legitimacy in the communities that they serve.

Callaghan says social entrepreneurs take enormous personal risks with their lives – risking their their own financial stability to pursue their passion often with a lack of support from the people around them.

He says one of the challenges for early-stage ventures in Australia is gaining access to seed-funding or capital. While Australia has an abundance of passion and ideas, its financial and philanthropic markets are still developing and finding ways in which to work with social business, social entrepreneurs and new innovations.

Callaghan says the Macquarie Group Foundation’s Award, and their dedication to providing $60,000 of the Award money to six social entrepreneurs recognises this need.

David Clarke, Chairman of the Macquarie Group Foundation – the philanthropic arm of Macquarie Group – praised the calibre of the submissions and strength of the ideas presented amongst the 80 nominations.

He says each of the 80 nominations detailed a creative response and galvanising enthusiasm for social change through innovation.

The finalists include –

  • CuriousWorks – a media arts organisation using digital technology to reflect the lives of people living in marginalised communities
  • Fair Business – a Not for Profit that provides training, support and employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed or disadvantaged
  • KidsXpress – an expressive therapy program to help resolve traumatic childhood experiences
  • Many Rivers Opportunities – a Not for Profit microenterprise organisation providing finance to marginalised, regional Australians to help them build a sustainable business 
  • Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, Brisbane – through its Centre for Online Health, the hospital is now one of the largest providers of paediatric telemedicine in the world
  • Summer Foundation – a community organisation dedicated to resolving the issue of young people living in nursing homes

To find out more information about each of the finalists, view the Award booklet here [PDF] 

The judging panel for the award comprised David Clarke – Chair of the Macquarie Group Foundation; Geoff Mulgan – Director of the Young Foundation UK and Chair, Involve UK; Peter Shergold – CEO, Centre For Social Impact, Macquarie Group Foundation Professor and Julie White – Head, Macquarie Group Foundation. 

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