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8 May 2023

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From our Program Director

Welcome to our new Care Together e-newsletter. The Care Together Program is an education, advisory and support program to foster business model innovation, through co-operatives and mutuals, in the delivery of social care in places where current approaches are not working.

Funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Care Together is a cross sector place based program that aims to contribute to dignified, safe, quality social care for vulnerable people in all settings, including regional, rural and remote places, delivered by empowered, well-trained workers in decent jobs. Social care includes aged care, disability support/NDIS, Veteran’s Care, Indigenous controlled care services, allied health and primary health, with a focus on cross sector integrated health and care teams in priority locations.

Since kick-off in January 2023, the Care Together program team has had a busy and productive four months establishing the foundations for delivering the Care Together Program. A highlight has been holding the first meeting of the Cross Sector Care Together Program Advisory Committee. A highly experienced team of people from cross sector Australian government agencies and leaders in the co-operative and mutual sector are providing expert advice and challenging conventional thinking to support the evolution of new and different approaches founded on the principles of co-operation and member ownership.

We have developed program plans including program goals and objectives, defining priority areas of focus, mapping out education workshops, planning roadshows to provide information and awareness about Care Together and developing the program’s research, evaluation and impact framework.

The program will identify and support the growth of existing social care co-operatives and mutuals in priority areas or mutuals in conversion where existing organisations transition to a co-op or mutual model. A staged innovation pipeline of possible projects has commenced with some being considered as first round projects.

Our Care Delivery team has been meeting with existing and potential co-operatives and mutuals to determine their needs and assess their suitability to express interest to be selected as one of our 13 projects during the program.

Additionally, we have been delighted to connect with the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care’s Market Workforce Division, Regional Stewards and Regional Co-ordinators of the Boosting the Local Workforce program, State social enterprise councils, and local government agencies and councils, all of whom have helped to inform opportunities and possible future projects for the Program.

I am delighted to show you our new Care Together logo. The Care Together Program empowers caregivers and care receivers with choice and control.

Care Together brand mark

This mission is reflected in our logo, which depicts a circle of care where everyone is included. The two circles at the logo’s centre represent the people who receive care, while the two semi-circles symbolise family and other caregivers and the care workers who provide care, supporting and embracing them. Together, these significant relationships form a community of care that is represented by the circle that encloses both the care receivers and caregivers. We aim to create a caring environment where the relationships between caregivers and care receivers is prioritised, empowering and giving agency to them as they seek to receive and provide dignified, safe, quality care in an environment where they are supported, valued and respected.

If you missed our March Community of Practice, watch it online and learn all about our new Care Together Program. I hope you also enjoy reading our spotlight care co-op story in this issue (Nundah Co-op) and reading the news section with links to stories about co-ops and mutuals in care here and around the world. Lastly, it’s a pleasure to invite you to the June Community of Practice meeting. Click on the link to register below.

Gillian McFee smiling at the camera, headshot

Gillian McFee
Program Director, Care Together

Spotlight on Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative (Nundah Co-op)

Nundah Co-op has been creating sustainable employment and training opportunities for people with mental illness, psycho-social disability learning difficulties or intellectual disability for 25 years.

The Nundah Co-op is owned by its workers and provides sustainable employment for them through its co-operative social enterprises, the Nundah Café Train, Marhaba Café and a Parks and Gardens maintenance service.

“For the majority of our members who were long-term unemployed, they had been in the role of a receiver of services, not ever a participant or a producer. So to move into that space is very empowering for people. Seeing someone before they start work in the coop, you can see the body language is saying ‘I’m not valuable, I’m not worthwhile’, and then after they’ve done some shifts in the café or in the parks, they’re walking around and feeling a sense of pride about themselves because they’ve given something back, they’ve contributed, they’ve earned their pay,” shared Richard Warner, Coordinator, Nundah Community Enterprises Cooperative.

Today the co-op has a staff of more than 50, 35 of whom have cognitive difficulties, each person matched to quality jobs in a way that meets the needs of the employee and the business.

Warner sees potential for further growth and, because of the place-based nature of the business, is looking to ‘horizontal scaling’, whereby the co-op seeds and supports other social enterprises across Queensland based on the same business model.

Watch our October 2022 CoP interview with Nundah Co-op’s Co-ordinator, Richard Warner, and President, Bernard Denny

Read the BCCM’s case study on Nundah Co-op

Read Westpac’s article: Nundah wonder: the small enterprise blazing a big trail

“…feeling a sense of pride about themselves because they’ve given something back…”

– Richard Warner, Coordinator, Nundah Community Enterprises Cooperative

Nundah Community Enterprise Co-operative staff smiling over coffee machine at cafe

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