In Summary

A national research project which captures the challenges and opportunities for social enterprises in Australia will release its first stage of findings today at the Social Enterprise Masters Conference.

Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) 2015 is a research initiative conducted by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) Swinburne in partnership with Social Traders.

As part of the first stage, a series of 13 workshops were conducted across six states during September 2014-April 2015, to discuss the challenges, opportunities and needs of Australian social enterprises.

Professor Jo Barraket, Director, CSI Swinburne and project leader, said the themes from the workshops reflected the diversity and innovation of the field, with a growing array of social causes being responded to and business models being created.

Workshop discussions also highlighted challenges for Australia’s social enterprise sector, which is experiencing a new wave, both locally and internationally.

“As social enterprises grow and change, they experience challenges in navigating organisational identity, staffing and governance cultures that adapt with them,” Professor Barraket said.

“A big theme identified by our participants was the need to develop markets for social enterprise through increasing public awareness of their presence and growing public sector and corporate purchasing from these types of organisations.”

The next stage of the FASES project will include a national online survey to collect further information about the current locations, practices and activities of social enterprises in Australia.

Drawing on the workshops, the survey will aim to distinguish differences in organisational practice based on industry, enterprise origins, enterprise model, stage of development and geography. 

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

Professor Barraket is a leading researcher in social enterprise and social innovation in Australia. Her work spans questions of public policy, organisational hybridity and social change.

The FASES report on the first stage of the project forms part of the Social Enterprise Masters Conference, hosted by Social Traders. Attendees of the conference are given a unique opportunity to gain insights into the successes and challenges facing social enterprises in Australia.

Visit the website to access the survey for Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector 2015.