2023 Taste of Australia Dinner and Leaders' Summit wrap-up

Designing the next decade of success

The BCCM Leaders’ Summit is the only cross-sectoral conference in Australia for CEOs of co-ops and mutuals to discuss the top issues and challenges the sector faces with industry colleagues, political representatives and the media. Held over two days – 25 and 26 October 2023, in Brisbane – it featured an exciting line-up of national and international industry leaders in plenary sessions and interactive panel discussions.

Our high-level program for executives and directors provided a chance to reflect on ten years of co-operation since the BCCM was formed in 2013 and to discuss what comes next. With more than 220 dinner guests and delegates and over 35 speakers, there were plenty of perspectives on the opportunity for co-ops and mutuals to rise in the public consciousness as the business movement best suited to meet the challenges of the times.

The theme “Designing the next decade of success” was a chance to revisit the achievements of the BCCM over the past decade with the keynote and plenary sessions looking to the future opportunities for the co-operative and mutual movement in Australia.

Key speakers included Mary Nirlungayuk, Vice President Corporate Services, Arctic Co-operatives Ltd (Canada); Peter Watts, Director, Watts Sustainability; Peter Hunt, Managing Director, Mutuo (UK); Assistant Professor Nathan Schneider, University of Colorado Boulder; Ang Hin Kee, CEO, SNCF, Singapore; and Nina Schindler, CEO, European Association of Co-operative Banks.

Find yourself in the BCCM 2023 Taste of Australia Dinner and Leaders’ Summit photo galleries (photos by Daryl Charles)

BCCM Leaders' Summit highlights

Pre-Summit Forums and Roundtables

CME 100 Chairs’ Forum and Luncheon

The BCCM held its bi-annual CME 100 Chairs’ Forum on Wednesday, 25 October, bringing together chairs of co-operative and mutual enterprises. Guest speaker Professor Simon Wilkie, Dean of Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash Business School, Monash University, provided insight into the synergies and opportunities provided by the Mutual Value Measurement Framework© and led a roundtable discussion on the research partnership between the BCCM and Monash University to measure the value co-ops and mutuals create for their members and communities. BCCM Chair Terry Agnew led an ongoing series on balancing member representation and business expertise on co-op and mutual boards.

Find yourself in the CME 100 Chairs’ Forum and Luncheon photo gallery (photos by Daryl Charles)


We also held our ongoing Retail and Buying Groups Co-operatives Forum, Agricultural Co-operatives Roundtable and the inaugural Communications Group Forum.

Retail and Buying Groups Co-operatives Forum

In attendance at the Retail and Buying Groups Co-operatives Forum were international keynote speaker Mary Nirlungayuk and Qian Xiaodong, Chief Information and Analytics Officer, NTUC FairPrice Singapore, the largest food retailer in Singapore with a 35% market share. Qian provided insights on balancing social and commercial imperatives, modernising retail operations, and the importance of collaboration, using examples from FairPrice, which became a dominant player in the market while retaining its core values and structure as a co-op.

Find yourself in the Retail and Buying Groups Co-operatives Forum photo gallery (photos by Daryl Charles)


Agricultural Co-operatives Roundtable

At the Agricultural Co-operatives Roundtable, Stephen Shepherd, Director, AltusQ led a discussion that included guest speaker Ross Verry, CEO, Syndex. Ross presented a case study on accessing capital for innovation and growth using the example of EastPack, New Zealand’s largest kiwifruit post-harvest operation.

Find yourself in the Agricultural Co-operatives Roundtable photo gallery (photos by Daryl Charles)


Communications Group Forum

At the inaugural Communications Group Forum, Jacqui Daley, Founder and Managing Director, The Measured Marketer and Jodie Brown, Marketing Strategist and Head of Insights, The Measured Marketer, provided an overview of the “awareness gap” around co-operatives and mutuals and addressed the challenge of enhancing understanding and awareness within the broader community. This session was supplemented by Peter Hunt, who discussed the importance of aligning core purpose with the broader communications narrative and using this to enhance ESG and corporate reporting.

Find yourself in the Communications Group Forum photo gallery (photos by Daryl Charles)

Taste of Australia Dinner

The Taste of Australia Dinner is one of our most highly anticipated annual events as a night of culinary celebration and political discussion. Leaders from Australia’s top co-operatives and mutuals gathered in the Frangipani Ballroom at the Emporium Hotel, representing sectors as diverse as Indigenous, arts and culture, financial services, social care, healthcare, housing, motoring, purchasing and supply, retail and wholesale, and agricultural and fishing co-ops. Our gin bar partner for the evening was ILG.



The event was courtesy of our platinum partner EML. EML chair Paul Baker kicked off the celebrations and introduced MC Patricia Karvelas, host of Radio National’s flagship breakfast program. Patricia told the assembled leaders from Australia’s top co-operatives and mutuals that she just discovered she’s a member of at least six co-ops and mutuals.



The Emporium Hotel’s executive chef, Shane Veivers, created a standout menu for our 10th anniversary, using co-operative produce from our dinner partners AlmondCo, Casino Food Co-op, Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative, Jack’s Creek, Master Butchers Co-op, Norco Co-Operative and OzGroup Co-op. The sumptuous meal began with a rock lobster entrée before moving to the Angus beef tenderloin and wrapping up with a velvety chocolate marquee.

Representing the Queensland Treasurer, the Hon Cameron Dick MP, guest speaker was The Hon Di Farmer MP, Minister for Employment and Small Business, Minister for Training and Skills Development and Minister for Youth Justice. She spoke about the contribution of co-operatives and mutuals to the Queensland economy in providing long-term, high-quality, local employment.



Celebrating the BCCM’s 10th anniversary, BCCM CEO Melina Morrison reflected on the many memorable moments in the decade since the UN International Year of Cooperatives in 2012, including the launch of the first National Mutual Economy Report, the first federal Parliamentary Friends of Co-ops and Mutuals, the landmark legal changes to the Corporations Act making way for Mutual Capital Instruments, and BCCM’s co-op farming and social care programs.

Participants watched a video tribute celebrating how far the BCCM has come in the past decade, bringing together leaders from Australia’s largest and most respected co-ops and mutual businesses and advocating to improve the business environment.

The evening concluded with a very special “pub quiz”, celebrating the fact that many co-ops started life down at a pub. It was a close call and went into a tie-breaker, with the winning table taking home a Co-opoly board game.



Find yourself in the BCCM 2023 Taste of Australia Dinner and Honour Roll photo gallery (photos by Daryl Charles)

BCCM 10th anniversary video

2023 Honour Roll for Outstanding Service Inductees

Five outstanding contributors to the co-operative and mutual sector were added to the BCCM Honour Roll for 2023 at the dinner, with this year’s recipients sharing a background in banking and financial services.

This year, the BCCM recognised the exceptional leadership of:

  • Steve James, retiring CEO of Teachers Mutual Bank
  • Judith Downes, retiring Chair, Bank Australia
  • Ross Higgins, immediate past CEO of Futurity
  • Stephen Brown, retiring director of Bank of Us
  • Robert Keogh, retiring CEO of Beyond Bank


BCCM Honour Roll 2023 Ross Higgins, Judith Downes, Steven James, Robert Keogh, Melina Morrison, Stephen Brown, Patricia Karvelas - Photo by Daryl Charles
BCCM Honour Roll 2023 Ross Higgins, Judith Downes, Steven James, Robert Keogh, Melina Morrison, Stephen Brown, Patricia Karvelas – Photo by Daryl Charles

Read the release: BCCM names its 2023 Honour Roll inductees

Watch the BCCM Honour Roll past inductees’ video

Find yourself in the BCCM 2023 Taste of Australia Dinner and Honour Roll photo gallery (photos by Daryl Charles)


Watch the 2023 Honour Awards Inductees video

BCCM Breakfast on the Hill

The Breakfast on the Hill, sponsored by RACQ, was held at the Premiers’ and Speakers Room Queensland Parliament House, Brisbane. David Carter, RACQ group CEO, gave the opening address. He noted that as cost-of-living pressures increase, people seek organisations to provide a better deal and more benefits. And perhaps most importantly, they are looking for trustworthy organisations – who will treat them respectfully and fairly. He also introduced RACQ’s For the Greater Good report outlining the organisation’s community impact over the FY23 financial year.

David introduced Charis Mullen MP, Assistant Minister for Treasury and Member for Jordan representing the Treasurer and Queensland Government. Charis spoke about the exciting opportunities for co-ops and mutuals to play in the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will see vast economic, cultural, social and environmental changes. She also noted that in addition to actions already taken to cut red tape for Queensland co-operatives, such as enacting the Co-operatives National Law in 2020, the Queensland government is looking at additional ways it can help, such as introducing dedicated co-operative capital units and providing local registered co-ops with more flexibility in how they raise capital.



Browse the Breakfast on the Hill photo gallery (photos by Daryl Charles)

Leaders’ Summit – Opening remarks

BCCM Chair Terry Agnew spoke about the BCCM’s growth from the original ten founding members to the over 100 members it has today and outlined some of the BCCM’s achievements over time – or, as he put it: Things we would not have had if the BCCM had not formed. As Terry put it:

  1. We would not have had a senate inquiry into co-operatives and mutuals that brought to light the barriers to competition we have since set about to challenge.
  2. We would not have had a definition of a mutual company under the Corporations Act – the only mention of mutuals before this was how to demutualise them.
  3. We would not have had capital-raising instruments for mutuals introduced into the Corporations Act and more than $350m of new growth capital would not have been raised.
  4. We would not have had a federal Parliamentary Friends of Co-ops and Mutuals or the bipartisanship that has enabled new positive legislation to pass with support from all sides of government.
  5. We would not have had over $20 million in funding for new co-ops in agriculture and care and a new era of awareness and interest in the contribution that co-ops and mutuals can play in markets where other business models are failing.
  6. We would not have had awards for the sector and the opportunity to recognise the contribution of our outgoing leaders.
  7. We would not have had ten years of data on the size and scale of the sector and ten years of the National Mutual Economy Report.
  8. We would not have had governance principles explicitly designed for the sector in an era of accountability.
  9. We would not have had a measurement framework specifically designed for co-ops and mutuals to measure their value and consistently communicate their point of difference precisely at the time with social impact is a competitive advantage.
  10. We also would not have had a climate action policy for the sector.

In addition to those ten landmark developments, Terry noted that we should also recognise that but for the BCCM:

Balu Iyer, Regional Director, International Co-operative Alliance, Asia-Pacific spoke about the impressive reach and scale of the Asia-Pacific co-operative sector and the body’s ongoing examination of the co-operative identity to ensure that it reflects the contemporary features of the movement.

MVM Accreditation

This year, two organisations have completed the MVM Accreditation process, joining the six co-operative and mutual organisations that have previously attained this status.

MIPS, or Medical Indemnity Protection Society and Unimutual have now earned MVM accreditation. Melina presented certificates to Barry Leung, Executive General Manager, Performance, MIPS and Geoff Henderson, CEO, Unimutual.

Discover more about the MVM Framework© and MVM Accreditation™.


Melina presented certificates to Barry Leung, Executive General Manager, Performance, MIPS and Geoff Henderson, CEO, Unimutual.

International keynote

Paul Lewis, CEO of Great Southern Bank, sponsor of the opening keynote, spoke on the theme of co-operation, reconciliation and mutuality. Before inviting Mary Nirlungayuk to the stage, Paul spoke about the work that Great Southern Bank is doing to bring First Nations businesses into its supply chain, from catering to office consumables and automation solutions for some of its key operations processes.

Mary Nirlungayuk, Vice President of Corporate Services, Arctic Co-operatives, told the audience her affirming story of modern Indigenous empowerment using the co-operative business model. The Arctic network of 33 member co-operatives took a long time to build but has brought numerous social and economic impacts to those remote, under-resourced communities.

Mary’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion on Empowering Indigenous communities through co-operative business models, sponsored by Great Southern Bank. Mary was joined on a panel by Pastor Ray Minniecon, Director, Bunji Consultancies and Mark Love, Legal Director, BAL Lawyers, with moderator Leanne Cutcher, Professor of Management and Organisation Studies, School of Business, The University of Sydney. The panel examined how the co-operative business model, with its member-owned structure, can deliver culturally appropriate and effective services to First Nations communities.

Moderator Leanne Cutcher with discussants Mary Nirlungayuk, Pastor Ray Minniecon and Mark Love

The Leader Dialogues

The Leaders’ Summit included five facilitated, deep-dive discussions based on industry case studies.

Dialogue 1: Innovation Masterclass with Professor Josserand, based on the course of the same name, helped leaders develop an innovation mindset and take a deep dive into unlocking the potential in their co-operative or mutual, both for profit and social purpose.

Dialogue 2: Avoiding Greenwash – Strategies for True Carbon Mitigation On and Off the Farm was led by Peter Watts from Watts Sustainability and looked at the issues around backing up environmental claims with hard evidence and finding transparent, accountable and reliable partners to offset an organisation’s carbon footprint. Also raised was the subject of ‘green hushing’, where organisations avoid communicating work they are doing on sustainability for fear of being accused of greenwashing or failing to meet their climate goals. Providing their expert viewpoints on the difficulties of communicating sustainability issues and avoiding greenwashing were Brianna Peake, Chief Stakeholder Relations, Sustainability and Strategy, CBH Group; Vicki Mullen, Senior Consultant, Finity and Corin Millais, Head of Socially Responsible Banking, Teachers Mutual Bank.

In Dialogue 3: The Future of Insurance – Discretionary Risk Mutuals, Darren Scammell, Partner and National Head of Financial Services, Grant Thornton let a discussion on providing long-term solutions to real needs.  The session looked at Australia’s hardening insurance market, climate-related financial risk, and a bevy of other factors that are driving a resurgence of interest in discretionary risk mutuals as an alternative vehicle for protecting against business and personal risk with expert opinions provided by speakers Charmian Holmes, Partner, Hamilton Lock; Andrew Armitstead, CEO, CivicRisk Mutual; David McDonald, Co-Founder, The Bridge International, Rod Scanlon, CEO, Capricorn Risk Services and Geoff Henderson, CEO Unimutual.

Dialogue 4: Working on wellbeing – CME strategies for supporting employee mental health was led by Janelle Marr, Managing Director, StepBeyond Strategy and looked at how the unique business model of co-operatives and mutuals makes them leaders in protecting and supporting workers and member wellbeing in times of crisis. Topic experts helped to paint a picture for attendees, with Anna Klease, Prevention Director Workplace Risk, WTW, providing a broad overview of the wellbeing landscape, while Alex Madsen, Executive General Manager – Partnerships & Service Delivery, Home Health, Australian Unity and Erwin Webb, Counsellor, The Casino Food Co-op spoke about the different types of support programs their companies had launched.

Sponsored by the Mutual Value Lab, Monash Business School, Dialogue 5: MVM Measures that Matter for Mutual Performance examined how to drive success in a mutual through alignment between measurement practices and business strategy. The session was facilitated by Associate Professor Paul Thambar, Mutual Value Lab, Monash Business School; Professor Matthew Hall, Mutual Value Lab, Monash Business School; and Peter Hunt. Professor Thamber provided a case study from his work with Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative, looking at how it reshaped the way it structures its membership between investors and non-investors following the difficulties it experienced during the Covid pandemic. Peter provided a case study from AGRiP, looking at how an entire sector uses Mutual Value Measurement Framework© as a strategic tool for reinvigorating strategy and driving performance.

International Keynote and plenaries

In our International Keynote on Designing for the Economy of Involvement, Assistant Professor Nathan Schneider, University of Colorado Boulder, joined us online from the US to look at how members can balance their expectations for member engagement with real-world practicalities. He began with the provocation: What if the whole economy comprised of co-ops – could we really expect members to attend every single annual meeting and spend all their time on governance? Nathan spoke about the spectrum of engagement across a variety of stakeholders, including how members of a co-op engage with each other, with important considerations for mutual banks and other consumer-owned co-operatives and mutuals.

Business Leaders in Conversation, sponsored by Heritage and People’s Choice, was led by Peter Ryan, Senior Business Correspondent, ABC, in conversation with Peter Lock, CEO, Heritage and People’s Choice and Saul Eslake, Economist. The conversation fearlessly delved into the issues of trust and integrity in banking, looking at the aftermath of the Banking Royal Commission and why the conduct risk of major banks pursuing profit ahead of the interests of customers remains.

Our penultimate session for the day brought two fresh international perspectives to the Vision for Growth panel. Ang Hin Kee, CEO of the apex body for co-operatives in Singapore and Nina Schindler, CEO of the European Association of Co-operative Banks (online from Brussels) reveal some reasons why co-ops and mutuals play a bigger role in the market overseas. Peter Hunt led the discussion on collaboration and explored the different views of a vision for growth, using examples from the Singapore model on the one hand and the European co-operative banking sector on the other.

The day ended with the Vision for Care panel. Care Together program director Gillian McFee discussed how the co-operative and mutual business model could address some of the systemic issues in the care system, particularly in thin markets, with Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald AM, Ageing and Disability Commission and Tim Johnson, Assistant Secretary – Care and Support Economy Taskforce, Australian Government, in a panel discussion hosted by Stephen Lunn, Social Affairs Editor, The Australian.

After setting the scene on the sector’s size, potential for future growth, and current policy measures, Commissioner Fitzgerald noted that the markets as they currently are don’t work because they are based on several assumptions that have led to the constraining rather than opening up, of those markets – assumptions which are the reason for few co-ops in care. He also noted that the Care Together Program is a significant step because previously, the government maintained neutrality around who or how such services were provided. Tim added that it is essential to improve the quality of jobs in the sector because they are not currently seen as desirable.

Thank you for your feedback. What the delegates thought…

“BCCM has an amazing success and it was wonderful to see such ongoing momentum, enthusiasm and attendance.”

“The co-op and mutual sector in Australia is so much stronger and successful because of your work; something you should be very proud of.”

“PK was a great MC and the dinner was just as delicious as ever.”

“What a great event. You are a terrific event organiser and influential advocate.”

“It was both a pleasure and a real learning opportunity for me. I was so pleased to hear of the work of BCCM and its members, and especially so in the social care sector.”

“Congratulations on another (very) successful summit.”

“Your leadership is really appreciated when it comes to Indigenous people in Australia. Its people like you and your team wanting to make a difference is appreciated, always a pleasure working with you.”


Find yourself in the BCCM 2023 Taste of Australia Dinner and Leaders’ Summit photo galleries (photos by Daryl Charles)

Sincerely thanking the 2023 Leaders’ Summit partners

2023 Leaders' Summit partners