Co-ops and mutuals in Australia

Co-operatives and mutuals operate across the Australian economy. From farming to finance, health to housing, motoring to manufacturing, they deliver trusted products and services in some of the most competitive domestic and international markets.

Some typical examples are credit unions and mutuals banks, roadside assistance and mobility clubs, non-profit health funds, mutual insurers, profit to member super funds, retail buying groups, agricultural co-operatives and friendly societies.

Their purpose is to serve their members, who are also their customers, suppliers, their employees or a mixture. They do not exist to serve external capital investors, which means that they can concentrate on returning benefit to members, instead of economic reward for shareholders.

Co-ops and mutuals exist in every State and Territory. Australia has over 2,000 co-ops and mutuals with a combined membership base of more than 31 million. Eight in ten Australians are members of at least one co-op or mutually owned organisation in Australia.

In 2020 the Top 100 co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) had a combined turnover of $32.8 billion and collectively held assets of $199.8 billion. CMEs including member-owned super funds contribute around 7% of Australia’s GDP.

CMEs are significant employers and help thousands of business owners run profitable and sustainable businesses through trade credit and bulk buying groups. In 2020, Australian CMEs directly employed 70,000 and had 140,000 small business members.

The BCCM publishes an annual state of the sector report on the size and contribution of the Australian co-operative and mutual sector.

Find more about co-ops and mutuals in Australia in the 2021 National Mutual Economy report.

Fast facts

Find more about co-ops and mutuals in Australia with these fast facts from the 2021 National Mutual Economy report.