Sunshine Coast Community Cooperative   |   unity of action

The Neighbourhood Centres Collective (Caloundra Community Centre Inc, Hinterland Community Development Association of Caloundra Inc, Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre Inc, and Nambour Community Centre Inc) Building Links project has developed a model for enhancing collaboration on the Sunshine Coast. At the centre of the model is the formation of a cooperative. The new Co-op will provide the infrastructure for the participating organisations* to collaborate to enhance and improve their services to their respective communities. It is not a super-structure that will swallow up each entity, but rather an enabling structure that respects the uniqueness of each organisation, and builds collective and individual capacity to respond more effectively to the needs in each of the communities served by the partners. The project has provided the partners with the opportunity to build on their existing collaborative efforts and grab the initiative to improve and enhance this collaboration in a pro-active manner.

The cooperative model for the new entity was chosen for its congruency with the ethos of collaboration. Much has been written and spoken about collaboration but it is essential that the structures adequate to hold the collaborative energy need to be put in place. The most effective way to enhance collaboration is to provide a structure that fits the work at hand. This structuring of the work is essential to concentrate energy and provide a focal point for action. Forming a cooperative that includes four community associations (and others in the future) is an innovative and unique achievement on the Sunshine Coast.

Each participating organisation is a non-profit incorporated community association with a wide ranging role in human service delivery across the Sunshine Coast and has a management committee and Manager / Coordinator who is responsible for the delivery of funded programs. The model created in the project will formally bring together key stakeholders of each organisation to manage the Co-op. The governance of the Co-op will impact on the governance of the partners, as it will be in the best interest of all involved to make the Co-op successful, as the benefits will flow to the partners. Ensuring that the model of governance for the Co-op is the right fit was a key objective in developing the Co-op's constitution.

The model espoused (see Table 1) is based on a high level of commitment to the principles of equality and active participation. During the project participants spent considerable time considering foundational principles for effectively working together and these are articulated in the report. Good governance arrangements ensure sustainable methods are in place for valuing members, continuous improvement and meeting accountability requirements. The interaction of key stakeholders from the partners in collectively managing the Co-op will assist knowledge transfer and network connections that will enhance each organisation to better manage its own matters a win-win situation.

The SCC Co-op is a registered cooperative under the Co-operatives Act.

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