Catalysing Australia’s social enterprise sector

By Sam Johnson

Sam represented the UNSW Co-op Scholar program at the 2016 Y20 Summit in China. Sam is studying a Bachelor of Engineering and has worked with Engineers Without Borders. Sam was Australia’s representative for the Poverty Elimination and Joint Development discussions at the Y20.


This paper discusses key policy recommendations to further allow the Australian social enterprise sector to grow and prosper.  Social enterprise is gaining legitimacy as an approach to better solve problems that traditional market based and government approaches have been unable to tackle effectively.  However, despite Australia’s strong potential to be a leader in this area, the Australian social enterprise sector is comparatively undervalued and underdeveloped.  This paper makes two sets of recommendations to strengthen the sector. Firstly, all levels of government need to further incorporate the principles of social procurement into their procurement processes. The paper discusses approaches to this including the inclusion of social benefit causes in traditional contracts and the adoption of legislation similar to the UK Public Services Social Value Act. The second set of recommendations centre on the responsibility of federal government to facilitate access to finance and investment-readying resources for social enterprises through the legislation of a new community company legal form and the creation of an investment fund to catalyse the development of the investment readiness intermediary sector.

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