2012 National Co-op Conference Wrap-Up

International Co-operative Alliance President Dame Pauline Green says, "One billion owners cannot be wrong" – Dame Pauline is referring to the number of co-operative members worldwide. We say 250 co-ops can't be wrong – that's the number of co-ops and co-operative representatives who came together in Port Macquarie on 24-26 October to discuss the future of our co-operative sector.

A broad based program

Delegates gave positive feedback on a wide ranging 2.5 day program discussing issues from the role of co-operatives in agriculture, regional economic development, and employment generation to new areas of co-operative growth, responsible capitalism, collaborating for mutual benefit and engaging the younger demographic.

Conference program

Podcasts of individual sessions will be available on the conference website soon; we will let you know as soon as they are online.

For now you can download the conference workbook Adobe PDF

Read UWA Winthrop Professor Tim Mazzarol's presentation on 'Building Strong Resilient and Successful Co-ops' Adobe PDF

Also, read Tim's opinion piece on co-ops as an alternative economic paradigm.

Download these booklets courtesy of Chris Cooper from the Co-operative College UK:

Read the Hon Rob Oakeschott’s opening address to the conference Adobe PDF

Read ‘Where to next?’ Conference closing speech - Greg Wall Adobe PDF

Read 'Safeguarding Solvency' - from Bob Corben's Business Clinic Adobe PDF

If you would like a hard copy of the conference workbook for friends or colleagues who could not attend please email Mitch O’Gorman with your postal address.  

Co-op Business Clinics

Nine clinics across three conference streams offered delegates the chance to choose from more than nine hours of professional development, education and training on co-op law and  governance, accounting advice, social media strategies, succession planning and case studies of enterprise development.

Please email Mitch O’Gorman if you would like to contact any of the convenors of the business clinics.

Who knew Australians were so co-operative? National Mapping Project

A national mapping project investigating the size and scope of co-operative businesses which was commissioned by the IYC Secretariat and funded by Abacus – Australian Mutuals and bankmecu, was a major achievement of the International Year of Co-operatives. It has provided much needed data on the sector and evidence of a worrying disconnect between the numbers of ordinary Australian consumers who are members of co-operatives (79% of all Australians) and the number who know that they are a co-op member (less than 16%). The findings were handed down by research body The Australia Institute (TAI) at the conference.

Read the report online.

The good people at TAI have offered to send a lovely bound copy of the report to those interested. Please email your postal address to Mitch O’Gorman at iyc@socialbusiness.coop by 14 November to receive a copy.

Media coverage

The mapping report was just one of the conference topics attracting widespread media attention – showing that co-ops are mainstream news. Media representatives from The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC radio and television, Channel Nine, Fairfax Media, The Land and Port Macquarie News covered the conference, first hand. Many other media outlets covered the conference by syndication.

Here's just a small taster of the coverage:

The mapping report

Agriculture and Food security

Guest speakers

Plus lots more – if you heard, saw or read something about our conference – please email us the link to add to the media archive

Youth Summit

30 youth delegates attended the conference as full delegates as well as taking part in two standalone youth summit workshops. A full report from the youth summit was handed down on Friday, 26 October at the Industry Leaders Breakfast. It provides a blueprint for the sector to engage with a younger demographic.

A declaration has been sent to the United Nations as Australia’s contribution to the draft International Youth Co-operatives Statement, part of the Official Closing Event for the International Year of Co-operatives 2012 at UN headquarters in New York, 19-20 November.

Steven Lynch from bankmecu and the 2012 Future Leaders Youth Ambassador and youth delegates have been invited by the UN to participate in online forward planning for the UN Youth Statement with other youth co-operators from around the globe.

An exciting start to a new era in youth engagement – thank you to everyone who took part.

Read the report from the 2012 IYC Youth Summit

Educators Forum – conference side event

An Educators Forum Breakfast held on Thursday, 25 October brought together around 20 co-operative educators, researchers and academics for a round table discussion on co-operative education and training in Australia. The need for co-operative education in mainstream tertiary business education and industry professional development opportunities was discussed. An informal network has been set up to ensure that education and training continues to be a priority in developing the co-operative sector in Australia.

The breakfast forum was facilitated by Professor Alison Sheridan, Head of the Business School, University of New England and sponsored by Macleay Regional Co-operative Ltd. If you would like more information please email Mitch O’Gorman.

Year Book Launch: Building a Better Australia

More than 100 delegates attended the cocktail launch for the IYC Commemorative Year Book on Wednesday 24th October. The Glasshouse Mezzanine provided the beautiful backdrop to the VIP launch which was introduced by the Hon Bob Debus AM, Patron of IYC 2012. The Hon Luke Hartsuyker, Federal MP for Cowper, officially launched the publication and food icon Peter Russell-Clarke generously gave his time to sign books with his famous trademark cartoons.

Buy the book now online through the Co-op Bookshop.

The special International Year of Co-operatives discount of 20% off the cover price, finishes on 31 December. This landmark publication – the first of its kind – features more than 50 case histories of Australian co-operative businesses. It’s a limited edition and the best gift choice for Board and members in this once in a lifetime year for co-ops worldwide.

Read press release Adobe PDF

Co-operatives: It’s a cultural thing – Aboriginal Co-operatives in NSW

A landmark exhibition of art and archival photographs celebrating the life and history of NSW Aboriginal co-operatives was also launched at the conference on Wednesday 24th October – our thanks to Wayne Holton and exhibition curator Grace Clague for launching the exhibition.

Thanks to Colin, Joyce and Grace Clague for their amazing efforts in staging this exhibition which ran for the duration of the conference and was sponsored by Holiday Coast Credit Union and Woolitji Co-operative.  The exhibition has relocated back to Woolitji House for the rest of November. For more information email Colin Clague.

Co-screen: 2012 Australian Co-op Film Festival

Another conference first was the Australia co-op film festival which ran during the conference break times. Our immense thanks to the filmmakers who graciously gave permission for their films to screen at  the conference. If you'd like to talk to the filmmakers about obtaining a copy of their films, please email Mitch O’Gorman for contact details.

The following films were part of the Co-screen program:

  • Lights on the Hill & Surprise! Dinner in a box  (Jess Begun)
  • The Matriarchs & When Colin Met Joyce (Pauline Clague)
  • The High Road (Myee Gregory)

The following films can be viewed online:

Our sincere apologies to Goulburn Valley Food Co-operative for not being able to screen Food Fight due to a time over run in the main conference program. We hope that you will watch the online version.

Leadership Awards Dinner

The awards dinner was a fantastic night and we were honoured to have Maggie Beer fly in from the Barossa to share her thoughts on food security and sustainable agriculture and to present the awards. Thank you to our MC Cameron Marshall and Future Leaders awards presenter Peter Knock, CEO The Co-op Bookshop.

The outstanding calibre of all nominees made the judging process very challenging. We cannot thank our three judges Cheryl Kernot, Tony Addison and Jo Barraket enough for their invaluable time and expertise over the past few months.

Thank you to The Co-operative Bookshop for sponsoring the Future Leaders Award and bankmecu for sponsoring the awards dinner.

Read the awards media release

Meet the 2012 Award Winners

Were you there?

Browse the Conference photo gallery

Browse the Leadership Awards Dinner photo gallery



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Joyce Clague MBE
"Over the years, I have seen the birth of many co-operatives. We choose the co-o
"We choose the co-operative structure because we want to have an equal say, we want to share the responsibility and we want to work together to improve our living conditions and our life chances..."

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The IYC 2012 Secretariat is proudly supported by Social Business Australia and Capricorn Society Ltd

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