'It's a very big picture vision': Work underway for a national civil society strategy
30 July 2020 at 5:27 pm
Advocates hope the strategy can be utilised by the charity sector
An Australian cooperative is developing a national civil society strategy to help build a more sustainable future and connect ordinary citizens with a shared vision for a better economy.
The New Economy Network Australia (NENA) – a network of individuals and organisations keen to build a better society by transforming the nation’s economic system – started a co-creation process for a National Civil Society Strategy for a New Economy earlier this year.
Co-founder and director Dr Michelle Maloney told Pro Bono News that NENA wants to shift the economic system so that it prioritises ecological health and social justice.
She said people across the network were very concerned about a lack of leadership at government level, particularly around sustainability and social justice.
Development of a strategy began with a series of webinars and online discussions with hundreds of people between January and June, and now the network’s strategic directions group (SDG) will start collating people’s ideas.
“It’s a very big picture vision connected to specific recommendations and actions around what we need to build a better society into a climate change future,” Maloney said.
“The SDG will be collecting all the different ideas that our members and network share and then we aim to have some really powerful discussions at our national conference in late November.
“There’s going to be a lot of goals that are in everybody’s best interests but then there might be other more diverse ideas and that’s when we’ll stimulate conversations through citizen assemblies.”
These ideas – which could relate to things such as shifting from fossil fuels to renewables or ensuring we have affordable housing – will be used to produce a summary document that becomes a shared platform for action.
“It will also show people who are coming into our network our work, what it is we stand for and what we’re interested in,” she said.
“It’s going to be a really interesting process and an interesting exploration of ideas in Australia at the moment.”
Maloney said the strategy would offer a way for ordinary Australians to hear what other ordinary people think the economy should be like and how society should look.
“It’s very much about synthesising and refining a shared vision of what we want,” she said.
“And maybe it will be something ordinary Aussies can point to when they talk to government, and say thousands of people created this, this is the future and the actions we want.”
She added that the charity and not-for-profit sector could also use the document in their advocacy efforts and other work.
“I hope it will be useful for the sector. We’re all volunteers. People are doing this because they’re passionate and care about the community,” she said.
“The [strategy] will be helpful for people who are interested in funding, supporting or connecting with others inside civil society.”