30 June 2023
The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) has announced funding for its second cohort of innovative projects through its co-operative development fund, The Bunya Fund.
Backed by the BCCM, with generous support provided by Australian Unity, Bank Australia and CBH Group, The Bunya Fund aims to support emerging co-operative and mutual ventures that demonstrate the substantial potential to deliver positive social, economic, cultural and environmental impact. The Bunya Fund seeks to nurture a new generation of socially responsible businesses within the Australian co-operative and mutual landscape by providing the means for developing a range of inspiring housing, agricultural and social and community economic development projects.
Second round recipients
The following recipients of The Bunya Fund (colloquially: ‘Bunyans’) are all engaged in seeking to establish or expand co-operative and mutual projects across Australia.
Housing is a big focus for The Bunya Fund in its second year of operation:
- CoHousing Australia – aspires to create a resource co-op that would form the backbone of developing more sustainable, community-driven living
- Co-operation Housing – sets its sight on adapting the Community Land Trust model to the Australian context to provide more affordable housing
- Sustainable Housing for Artists and Creatives Co-operative (SHACC) – aims to secure and sustain shared home ownership for artists and creatives, potentially establishing a possible pathway for other social housing co-ops desiring a similar transition.
Social good and agriculture combine:
- SuppHorticulture – a co-op business conversion, is geared towards empowering neuro-diverse individuals through vocational horticulture training and fostering inclusive workplace participation (SuppHorticulture is auspiced by The Veggie Empire)
- ORICoop – focuses on bolstering the organic grain sector through ORCA, promoting both environmental sustainability and economic viability for producers.
Lastly, community ownership features. Community hotels, as highlighted by the work of the UK’s Plunkett Foundation, can have transformative social impacts in such areas as local job creation, youth training, tourism and enhanced community cohesion:
- The Broomehill Village Co-operative – is reestablishing a community-owned hub to foster social interaction and economic activity in regional WA.
More about the Bunyans
CoHousing Australia focuses on community-focused living, promoting sustainable living through the development of cohousing that combines the benefits of individual homes with shared communal spaces. A recipient in the first round of The Bunya Fund, it has conducted feasibility studies for co-operative housing projects. Acknowledging the need for land acquisition, institutional support and innovative lending, CoHousing Australia has attracted further support from the Fund to establish a scalable model through a housing resource co-op, providing education, development services and consolidating government and social investment.
Similarly, Co-operation Housing addresses housing affordability through the Community Land Trust model. Building on initial Bunya funding for Kyloring Housing Co-operative in Witchcliffe Ecovillage, Western Australia, it now has additional support to adapt the Community Land Trust model, popular in the US, UK and Canada, for Australia. This model is community-centred, providing affordable housing and fostering community development, aiming to alleviate housing affordability issues.
The Sustainable Housing for Artists and Creatives Co-operative (SHACC) targets housing needs for artists and creatives. SHACC is working on developing a model that other social housing co-operatives could possibly emulate for transitioning to a new form of shared ownership, ensuring stable housing for the creative as well as other communities.
ORICoop, in the agricultural sector, is trail-blazing with the Organic and Regenerative Cooperative Australia (ORCA) initiative. ORCA focuses on organic and regenerative farming practices, seeking to expand the organic sector’s capacity for processing and marketing organic grains. As a farmer-owned brand, it is focussed on maximizing producer benefits and delivering high-quality organic produce to consumers. It will receive support for strategic development to assist the initiative to undertake risk mitigation, processing systems design and bolster advocacy for nutrient-rich and sustainable food production.
SuppHorticulture is another agricultural project but with an innovative social care aspect, undertaken by The Veggie Empire. It is a worker co-op conversion aimed at fostering vocational skills among marginalized individuals in horticulture. It integrates specialised disability support workers with neuro-diverse participants in long-term, community-based agricultural activities. The goals are to cultivate an inclusive workplace, support local food relief and create essential farming infrastructure through the power of co-operation.
Broomehill Village Co-operative is reviving a closed local pub as a community initiative. The re-opening is expected to strengthen community bonds, generate jobs, provide training for young people and encourage tourism. The community has already purchased the pub through fundraising and will receive additional assistance from The Bunya Fund for renovations, ensuring compliance and sustainability through a solid business plan for ongoing community support.
The Bunya Fund plays a pivotal role in supporting a range of projects that embody the co-operative spirit across different communities in Australia. From community living and affordable housing to sustainable agriculture and vocational training, these initiatives contribute to shared social, economic, environmental and cultural development. With The Bunya Fund’s backing, these projects are well-positioned to create enduring positive impacts in their respective areas through the co-operative and mutual model, exhibiting the values of self-help and solidarity.
The diversity of these projects reflects the evolving landscape of co-operative and community-driven initiatives in Australia, showcasing how cooperation can address various challenges and contribute significantly to community and economic development.