Queensland is on the crest of a wave of positive change, and it could not be more timely.
What began 25 years ago as a community of practitioners bringing enterprise to their change work has grown to a movement, with hundreds of members—all the way from Cape York to Coolangatta.
The Queensland Social Enterprise Council (QSEC) was developed to ensure support of the sector is appropriate to the needs of enterprises and the communities they serve, and that resources flow more directly to the problems being addressed at the grassroots.
Importantly, advocacy efforts led by Australia’s first peak body for social enterprise have caught the ear of the government, seeing a nation-leading commitment of $8 million over two years to a Social Enterprise Jobs Fund.
The Department of Employment, Small Business and Training has a peak body agreement with QSEC to represent the social enterprise sector in Queensland and build the sector’s capacity to grow and deliver jobs and training opportunities for disadvantaged Queenslanders, particularly in regional Queensland communities.
The Department was initially involved in supporting the sector through the Queensland Social Enterprise Strategy released in 2019.
How can local councils get involved?
QSEC would like to explore the possibility of working with local councils to bring social enterprises together (regional co-working spaces, pilot projects, collaborations) to foster local market and business opportunities.
If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Queensland Social Enterprise Council CEO Elise Parups on 0411 048 248 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reset and Recovery update
Through the Reset and Recovery project (funded by the Queensland Government), QSEC is currently helping the Rockhampton Regional Council to develop a proposal for an Upcycle Village precinct in collaboration with CQUniversity.
The Rockhampton Upcycle Village will contribute to Council’s zero-waste strategy by identifying opportunities for social enterprises to divert waste from landfill, while creating employment and skills development opportunities for people in the Rockhampton area. A full report will be released to capture the outcomes from this exciting project.
About the Queensland Social Enterprise Jobs Fund
QSEC has drafted a proposal for the fund, announced in December 2020 by the Hon Dianne Farmer, Minister for Small Business, Employment and Training.
There are three pillars to the strategy:
• Sector development: Capacity building
to develop, improve upon and better understand social enterprise initiatives and their impacts, as well as to build connectivity between social enterprises to enable peer mentoring, the exchange of trade and resources, and innovation.
• Social procurement: Grow the profile of social enterprise to strengthen demand for goods and services, opening up market opportunities for organisations with proven job-creation records and related social-impact.
• Social finance: Develop innovative loan and finance options for a sector whose taking-on of costs not borne by other businesses (e.g. support to disadvantaged workers) necessitates specialised finance.
The Fund will support social enterprise sector development and job-creation, which in turn increases capacity to tackle issues of homelessness, access to food, health and education, cultural and social inequities and environmental issues.
Additional grants awarded on June 1
QSEC thanked Minister Farmer and the Department of Employment and Small Business for their continued support of this growing sector following the June 1 announcement of the $3 million Community Social Enterprise Development grants.
The grants opened on June 3 and closed on July 1, with further grants to be rolled out in the coming months.
QSEC President Richard Warner said, “running a social impact business can be challenging, regardless of the scale or scope of activity, and this has been particularly the case in the current environment. The Fund is a significant milestone for Queensland, one which will create catalytic change for the sector and its beneficiaries, including many highly disadvantaged job seekers.”
QSEC will be working with sector partners to ensure the funds maximise positive outcomes for social enterprises at all stages of growth, who are all working dynamically to create deep impact for social, environmental and cultural outcomes in local communities.
You can find out more about the grants here.