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Highlights from the Social Enterprise Conference 2017

On Wednesday 21 June, 250 delegates from across Australia attended the 5th annual Social Enterprise Conference 2017.  Themed “Activating Australia’s Social Enterprise Economy: Delivering on Potential” the conference aimed to share insights on how to turn big ideas into sustainable social impact.

The Conference was officially opened by Professor Jo Barraket, Director of CSI Swinburne University and Patricia Toohey Deputy Chair Social Traders Board. The day then showcased 20 enigmatic speakers, providing audiences with a deeper understanding of the issues, challenges and best practice of social enterprises.

Delegates were fortunate to hear from two keynote speakers, Mike Hirst, CEO of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and international guest Tong Yee, Director of The Thought Collective in Singapore.

Mike Hirst shared the journey of the formation of Bendigo Community Bank, addressing the regional banking crisis in Victoria in the 1990s. Mike articulated the issues, steps, engagement and eventual action Bendigo Bank took to form its community banking network – a community-led solution when large banks were closing branches in regional towns.

Tong Yee provided an inspiring session outlining how The Though Collective has built a collection of five social enterprises in Singapore focussed on developing cultural narrative as a solution to improving social cohesion and equality in Singapore.  “By focussing on the narrative we’re able to observe and tackle the issue upstream rather than focussing only on actions downstream”, explained Tong Yee.

Guest speakers from some of Australia’s leading social enterprise organisations including Access Community Services, Bedford Group, The Social Outfit, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, CERES Environment Park & STREAT also shared their work generating impact for three key beneficiary groups; the environment, people with disability and asylum seekers and refugees.

Presented by Social Traders, the Social Enterprise Conference 2017 brought together the social enterprise community in Australia to provide a key networking, knowledge sharing and community building opportunity.