Online Tool to Start Co-Ops Launches
22 October 2015 at 11:02 am
The national peak body representing co-operative and mutual enterprises has launched an online resource to set-up and run collaborative projects.
The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) said Get Mutual was aimed at addressing the lack of free and accessible resources available for people and communities wanting to use the successful co-operative model.
The sector accounts for seven per cent of Australia’s GDP, and CEO of the BCCM, Melina Morrison, said co-ops and mutuals were gaining popularity as the localisation trend grows.
“Co-operatives are coming back into favour since the global financial crisis as a self-help response to chronic issues such as unemployment and affordable housing, but we have lacked a coordinated effort to provide the education and information resources to help people help themselves,” Morrison said.
“Co-operatives have always been used by groups to address their shared social and economic issues such as farmers wanting to get a fair farm gate return for their produce, parents wanting affordable childcare, people wanting accessible primary health care and increasingly, communities coming together to launch renewable energy ventures or to gain access to high quality local produce.”
However, Morrison said there was still a lack of knowledge about the sector, and its social and economic benefits to local communities and Australia as a whole.
Get Mutual provides free toolkits, links to reports and supporting organisations, as well as a service to connect groups with advisors and experienced professionals to help with co-operative developments.
The website also has the Pathfinder Public Service Mutuals case studies, developed with funding from the Department of Social Services. The case studies provide information about successful Australian co-operatives that deliver services in housing, disability employment, GP clinics and aged care.
In September industry expert Alan Greig from Social Business Australia said Australian Not for Profits should consider the formation of enterprise cooperatives as a viable alternative to the more difficult process of mergers.
“With the Not for Profit sector being encouraged to consider mergers as an efficiency measure to supposedly reduce overlap and excess numbers, consideration needs to be given to a viable alternative to this difficult process – the formation of an ‘enterprise cooperative’,” Greig said.
“Enterprise cooperatives in the Not for Profit sector – based on a membership of NFP associations – can achieve the same benefits of sharing overheads, services and assets through cooperation as a merger will achieve through a ‘joined up’ management structure – but while still retaining each member’s own identity and heritage.”