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The Evolution of the Social Enterprise Ecosystem in Scotland: Lessons for Australia

April 4, 2017

Last updated on March 17, 2021

Deputy Director of The Scottish Government & Head of Third Sector, Equality & Community Empowerment, Yvonne Strachan, was in Melbourne this week for the launch of Swinburne University’s new Social Innovation Research Institute.

As part of her stay, in addition to the launch, Strachan also took part in the first Victorian Social Enterprise Network meeting since the launch of the Victorian Government’s Social Enterprise Strategy as well as a public panel discussion hosted by Swinburne University and Social Traders on ‘Creating an Enduring Social Innovation Ecosystem’.

Strachan has been heavily involved in the development of Scotland’s world leading social innovation policy, working as part of the Scottish government since 1999.

After Strachan’s last visit to Melbourne was in 2014, was keen to see the progress on the social enterprise landscape.

“It feels like there’s a new energy around social enterprise in Australia, particularly here in Victoria with the launch of the new strategy,” said Strachan, “The role of corporates in supporting social enterprise particularly through the growth in social procurement is also really interesting to see, that’s different from Scotland and something I think Australia is leading in at the moment.”

Speaking at the Victorian Social Enterprise Network Meeting, Strachan shared the partnership between the Scottish Government and the not-for-profit sector that has helped to shape their thinking about the role for social enterprise in tackling social issues as well as the road map for Scotland’s continued growth and development in social innovation.

Strachan also discussed how social innovation has reshaped how the Scottish Government itself operates in the formation of policy and the measurement of impact for local communities as part of the ‘Creating an Enduring Social Innovation Ecosystem’ panel.

“There’s been a shift in measurement, instead of how much money the government has put into something we measure what’s changed for people on the ground,” said Strachan, “We work closely with external experts working in different areas to hear what’s working and what hasn’t worked that we need to go back and reshape.”

The panel also included social innovation experts including Tom Dawkins, CEO & Co-Founder of StartSomeGood, Lill Healy, Deputy Secretary for Programs, Small Business & Employment at DEDJTR, Professor Jo Barraket, Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University, Kate Bennett-Eriksson, Disruption Lead at PwC’s Experience Centre and Krystian Seibert from Philanthropy Australia.

The panel discussed the role of social innovation in promoting socially inclusive economic growth and purpose driven business. With the release of the Social Enterprise Strategy the first step in the Victorian Government’s move to develop stronger social innovation policy, Lill Healy commented on the need to continue driving social enterprise forward.

“How do we learn to come at social enterprise differently?” said Healy, “The strategy is out. The challenge is – what’s next?

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