Nationwide research project to shed light on Australia’s social enterprise sector

Thursday 2 October 2014

A low angle photograph of Swinburne University of Technology signage on the Advanced Technologies Centre building in Hawthorn.

The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) Swinburne and Social Traders have teamed up to undertake the second wave of the Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) project.

The initial FASES project was conducted in 2009 and consisted of a national mapping study which became the first research project on the Australian social enterprise sector.

Professor Jo Barraket, CSI Swinburne Director and project leader, said that while the first study was valuable, it is time to update our knowledge of the field.

 “FASES was a useful piece of work. More than 13,000 people have read the project reports and the evidence collected supported government and private funding into social enterprise.

“Perhaps more importantly, the research gave those in the field some indications of what they have in common, as well as their incredible diversity in terms of their social purposes and their business practices,” Professor Barraket said.

While there has been a great deal of activity in the social enterprise field over the last five years, Professor Barraket said FASES II will give the capacity to identify changes in practice and growth in the sector.

“This time around, we will also be consulting widely with practice leaders before undertaking the survey research, so we can ensure that issues important to developing the field are taken into account in survey questions.”

FASES II forms the basis for a longitudinal study, so that CSI Swinburne and Social Traders can track changes to the field over time.

“The project will provide vital business knowledge that other sectors of the economy take for granted, and tell us more about the work that social enterprises are doing to achieve social impact,” Professor Barraket said.

Managing Director of Social Traders David Brookes said the project is timely to build on the awareness of the contribution and needs of social enterprise.

“The social enterprise sector is growing strongly in Australia. FASES II will provide further evidence of the significant impact and economic contribution that social enterprises are making to communities across Australia.

“Extensive input to be sought from practitioners through this project, will enhance Social Traders knowledge and expertise in social enterprise development and investment. It will ensure that we continue to meet the support needs of this innovative and dynamic sector over coming years,” Mr Brookes said.

To kick off FASES II, workshops will be conducted around the country with practice and policy leaders, starting in November. The survey work will be conducted in mid-2015.