On 7 July 2018, co-operatives and mutuals around Australia and the globe will celebrate the International Day of Co-operatives.

It is a day that recognises what Australians can achieve when they work together for a common goal. There are more than 2,100 Australian co-operative and mutual enterprises.  Together they generated 8.3 per cent of the nation’s 2017 GDP, with a membership that includes eight in 10 Australians.

Melina Morrison, Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), said Australians are better off due to the strength and diversity of co-ops and mutuals and the work they do.

“The co-operative and mutual sector is part of Australia’s economic success, creating jobs, investing in communities and serving people.”

“From farming to finance, health to housing, motoring to manufacturing, co-operatives and mutuals operate across much of the Australian economy, delivering trusted products and services.  They differ from investor-owned businesses because they focus on their members’ needs, rather than maximising a return to shareholders,” Ms Morrison said.

Sustainable business

Due to their values, principles and robust governance structures, co-operatives are innately sustainable and resilient business structures. This year’s theme for the celebrations is ‘Sustainable societies through cooperation’.  To drive sustainable societies the BCCM has:

  • Pledged support to the Co-ops for 2030 campaign to promote the co-operative business model achieving sustainable development goals.
  • Developed freely available reg-tech tools and manuals to help Australians affordably set up co-operative and mutual businesses to improve their lives and livelihoods.
  • Developed Get Mutual – a self-help website with accessible and legally sound information on starting a co-operative and building it for success.
  • Created the Co-op Builder – an online template for the legal documents required to set up a co-operative in Australia.
  • Produced free pamphlets and guides such as the Community Investment for Australian Co-operatives handbook.

The BCCM advocates for Australia’s 2,100 co-operatives and mutuals so that government and policymakers understand the member-owned business model. As a result of this work, the 2016 Senate Economics References Committee report into the contribution of co-operative, mutual and member-owned firms made strong recommendations to improve recognition and understanding of the member-owned sector. The 2017 Hammond Review affirmed the need for improved access to capital for co-operatives and mutuals and these recommendations will be assessed by Parliament later this year.

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