15th March 2019
Social Enterprise in Queensland
A regional forum
Australia has a mature social enterprise ecology comprising of businesses from all sectors in both private and in-state markets. There is no unified definition, yet the State and Federal governments are establishing parameters for future regulation. While the State is focused on not-for-profits, the Federal government considers for-profit models – the challenge is finding a middle ground when social enterprise trade and operation vary, particularly between metropolitan and regional areas. Recently, Victoria has classified one definition which can be found on the Business Victoria website – Queensland is yet to follow.
Early in 2019, consulting began across Queensland began. On Friday 1st of February, the Social Enterprise Network for the Tropics (SENT) assisted Jobs QLD and KPMG initiates discussions with social entrepreneurs. In Cairns and surrounding regions. Cairns Institute’s director Professor Stewart Lockie, helped by housing the event. Members of the steering committee Crystal Williams and Seamus Campbell were integral in attracting forty-five attendees from local and neighboring Pacific Island businesses to attend.
While our region’s sector extends internationally, KPMG presented findings from research on a limited margin drawn around Cairns. Conclusions show the primary beneficiaries of Cairns’ social enterprises are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, those with disabilities, and the homeless. Limited data has raised the concern that more investigation is needed to deeply understand our unique landscape and entrepreneurial activity within thin markets.
The success of the event is in the valuable insights into the sector’s maturity, its challenges, diversity, and foresight for the future. Social enterprises are important in achieving potential social, cultural or environmental value. New ways of identifying the extent and the role of social enterprises in the tropics is needed.