Benefits for Australia

Co-operatives and mutuals are important to the prosperity of Australia. They help to create an economy and society that works in the interests of the widest number of people by sharing power in, and the rewards of, business.

Co-ops and mutuals have played an important part in the development of the Australian economy. From the earliest days, Australians have co-operated in business, both out of necessity and from a shared sense of purpose.

By bringing together the natural entrepreneurialism of a new nation, the Australian inclination towards self-help, with the common sense to work together for the common good, mutually owned business has formed part of the bedrock of the Australian economy.

These co-ops and mutuals have been in business for the long term, focused on their core purpose of serving their members and the wider community. They are important. They are home grown. They deliver competition and choice and spread the benefits of business far beyond investor shareholders into the wider population.

Co-operatives and mutuals are owned by Australians, pay their taxes in Australia and contribute to our nation’s prosperity.

As part of a mixed economy, co-ops and mutuals:

  • Help to build an economy with a diversity of business types
  • Provide competition and choice for consumers in a wide range of markets
  • Are businesses that plan for the long term rather than short term
  • Are businesses that treat customers fairly and honestly
  • Share the benefits of business and wealth throughout the country
  • Provide quality local employment opportunities for Australians
  • Provide services to communities that are valued and needed

The contribution of the co-operative and mutual sector to the Australian economy

Co-operative and mutual enterprises are a significant contributor to the Australian economy.

Eight in ten Australians are members of at least one of the country’s 1,819 active co-operatives and mutuals.

This adds up to more than 34.8 million combined memberships.

Australia’s co-ops and mutuals directly employ more than 89,046 people and have a combined turnover of more than $43.23 billion (excluding superannuation funds). (Source 2024 NME Report)

Co-ops and mutuals play a vital in the Australian economy.

National co-operation

Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA)

COBA is the industry advocate for Australia’s customer-owned banking sector.

The Co-op Federation

The Co-op Federation (previously Co-ops NSW) is the peak body for co-operatives in NSW.

Co-operatives WA

Co-operatives WA is the peak body for co-operatives in WA.

Employee Ownership Australia

Employee Ownership Australia is an active voice for broad-based employee ownership and dynamic workplace participation in Australian and New Zealand companies. It works with government and individual companies to implement employee ownership or employee share plans.

Australian Friendly Society Pharmacies Association (AFSPA)

AFSPA is the voice of mutual community pharmacy in Australia. Friendly Society Pharmacies are owned and operated by not-for-profit Friendly Societies rather than pharmacists.

The Cooperatives Alliance

The Cooperatives Alliance membership comprises seven member co-operatives based on the NSW North Coast.

Industry Super Australia (ISA)

All 15 Industry SuperFunds are run in the best interest of members with a common goal of providing the best possible retirement outcome for members. ISA also work together on research, policy development, government relations and advocacy to improve the superannuation system for all Australians.