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Social enterprise sector commits to shared vision

5 April 2022 at 4:55 pm
Samantha Freestone
The Australian social enterprise sector has set a course for a national strategy to navigate the challenges of coming years.

Samantha Freestone | 5 April 2022 at 4:55 pm


Social enterprise sector commits to shared vision
5 April 2022 at 4:55 pm

The Australian social enterprise sector has set a course for a national strategy to navigate the challenges of coming years.

“Working together to ensure all people, places and the planet thrive.”

This is the Australian social enterprise sector’s shared vision statement, reached after a long collaborative process that drew upon feedback from social enterprises, academia, peak bodies, philanthropic organisations, and impact investment organisations, across all Australian states.

Belinda Morrissey, chair of the Social Enterprise National Strategy and CEO of The English Family Foundation who played a key role in the process, said it was vital to create a shared vision to “name a direction for the sector.” 

She told Pro Bono News that it provided “a call to action for the sector [and] a key foundation for a national strategy”. 

“It’s a big milestone to have named a shared direction and call to action as a sector,” Morrissey said. “Practically, it gives us a compass in our work together and provides a foundation for a national strategy.” 

The sector’s strong diversity appears to have played a considerable role in formulating the vision and mission, with different sector actors fulfilling distinct but appropriate roles.

The Yunus Centre (a mission-led business school working with people and organisations) consulted with people across the sector and based on the responses developed first drafts, while ASENA – the peak body representing Australia’s seven practitioner-led state and territory social enterprise networks – gave feedback and came up with alternatives. 

While the end goal was important, Morrissey says the process provided significant opportunities.

“It was a learning process about shared and different wants for social enterprise in Australia,” she said.

“We learnt how important it is that the diverse voices of the sector are heard, and that in fact they want to have a say in the vision and mission of the sector and be involved.”

The original draft statement – which read “A world that works together to ensure all people, places and planet thrive” – was developed to reflect key themes that had emerged from consultative workshops.

The essential tenets of this included:

  • collaboration itself as a vision;
  • naming and valuing social, environmental and place-based impact; and
  • using language that is simple, clear and direct.

This wording was shared with workshop participants and the public, with a request for sector feedback. After incorporating feedback from 91 people, the Social Enterprise National Strategy Advisory Council finalised the vision as: “Working together to ensure all people, places and the planet thrive.”

The sector also agreed to a set of shared mission values, and committed to fostering a vibrant and connected Australian social enterprise sector that provides:

  • environmental care
  • people-centred services
  • access to decent work
  • community-led innovation.

Off the back of the consultation and collaboration process, the sector established five foundations for future collaboration. The chief priority is establishing a national strategy. The additional four goals were based on research conducted by The Yunus Centre:

  • To establish an organisation to lead the national strategy process, connect key sector figures, and engage with the federal government.
  • To establish principles of practice to reflect shared values and establish collaborative guidelines, after a co-design process.
  • To profile and promote the value of social enterprise via communication, education and advocacy.
  • To commission an investment case for the social enterprise sector, to articulate its value.

Social Enterprise Australia is now in the final stages of name registration with ASIC and there will be a sector co-design process to decide how it will work. 

Morrissey said the collaborative process inherent in developing the shared mission and values had solidified future collaboration in the social enterprise sector. 

“The co-design process was fundamental in developing this shared direction and remaining true to the collaborative and representative ethos embedded within everything we do,” she said.

Samantha Freestone  |  @ProBonoNews

Samantha Freestone is a career reporter with a special interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics, sustainable financial market reporting and politics.

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