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Social Traders heads to Ballarat

March 22, 2019

Last updated on February 17, 2020

Social enterprise roadshow out to change local lives

Jobs growth in the Ballarat region is top of the agenda at a forum and networking event for local social enterprises, at The Mining Exchange in Ballarat on 27 March.

Hosted by Social Traders, the event will bring together social enterprises, businesses, government agencies and community organisations to discuss partnership opportunities that will help drive business growth and create jobs.

Social Traders – Australia’s leading social enterprise development organisation – works to foster jobs for local communities by facilitating procurement opportunities between social enterprises and Government and business buyers. The practice is known as social procurement.

Managing Director David Brookes said that Ballarat Regional Industries (BRI) is a great example of social enterprise providing a legitimate commercial solution to address social inequality at a community level.

Through providing employment and training opportunities for people living with a disability, BRI helps its team members to develop skills in packaging, recycling, landscaping, timber production and manufacturing services.

Contracts with organisations such as Acciona, Lendlease and the City of Ballarat have helped BRI create jobs for more than 160 people.

“Our team save more than 80 tonnes worth of documents going into landfill per month, through one contract alone, which is an effort they’re really proud of,” said BRI Chief Executive Geoff Russell.

“BRI has been focused on giving local people the chance to be the best they can be. It’s about developing technical skills but also about encouraging individual growth and life skill development.

“Contracts with clients like with Acciona and Lendlease are critical in that they not only help create more opportunities, but they are a strong recognition that we are a legitimate business, not a charity – and winning work like this is the best way to support the local community.

Social Traders Regional Roadshow will visit Ballarat on Wednesday March 27 at The Mining Exchange, 12 Lidiard St, Ballarat, at 2.30 PM.

Brookes said that many businesses operating with social and sustainability causes at their core don’t realise they qualified as social enterprises and he urged them to come forward.

“Social enterprise is defined as any business set up to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment,” Brookes said.

“We estimate that there are more than 40 social enterprises operating in the Greater Ballarat area, all with the potential to make a significant contribution to the local economy.

“We’d like to work with as many as possible and help them realise just how much of an impact they can have. And that is through legitimate commercial transactions with business and Government buyers.”

“Since 2017, we’ve facilitated more than $30 million worth of social procurement contracts Australia-wide, which has supported around 400 jobs for people facing some form of disadvantage or exclusion. These numbers provide a compelling indication of the huge positive impact stemming from social procurement.”

Brookes said that Social Traders estimated that for every $100,000 spent on social procurement 1.5 jobs are created for disadvantaged Australians.

“Simply, we need to help government and businesses in Australia understand what a major impact they could be having – for both themselves as much as disadvantaged Australians,” Brookes said.

“Social procurement isn’t a charity or goodwill gesture. It’s a legitimate business transaction that provides a social benefit – for both the supplier and the buyer.”



Nathan Grylls

Nathan, 33, a born and bred Ballarat boy, lives with a mild intellectual disability.  He’s  now in his tenth year at the company and he couldn’t be happier.

Monday to Thursday, Nathan runs BRI’s bin delivery program which supplies and delivers new or disused bins in the Ballarat region, as part of a major contact with the City of Ballarat.

“I have learnt so many new skills working at BRI. I’ve also done landscaping and packing. When I do bin deliveries I can deliver and replace up to 25 to 50 bins a day. I can also fix broken bins.

“BRI is a happy environment. I’ve made new friends since working there and I am loyal to the company.”

Encouragement from BRI and his family, meant that two years ago Nathan passed his driver’s licence which opened up a whole new world from him. Nathan has learnt to use a GPS to direct him around the local region.

These are skills that he may not have acquired without the support of BRI and demonstrates the impact sustained employment can have.

On his days off Nathan works on a building site to develop his skills and boundary umpires the local Ballarat football on the weekends. He also enjoys driving down to Torquay to spend time with his nieces.


For more information contact:

James Aanensen – M: 0410 518 590 – e:

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