Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project CEO Blake Repine at the project's launch at CQUniversity Emerald Campus.
Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project CEO Blake Repine at the project's launch at CQUniversity Emerald Campus.

SUPPORT: 30+ groups work to address social issues in CQ

MORE than 30 social enterprises have joined forces to address the wide range of social issues in the Central Highlands and surrounds.

CQUniversity and Central Highlands Community Services (CHCS) unveiled the Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project at CQUni’s Emerald Campus, with more than 20 local entrepreneurs attending a launch and workshop.

CHCS CEO Blake Repine said the session captured the diversity of local organisations and businesses that were tackling social issues in Central Highlands.

“Launching this project has connected more than 30 social enterprises in our region, which do everything from covering gaps in government services, to ensure the citrus harvest happens via international development partnerships,” Mr Repine said.

“Since the launch, we’ve already seen organisations realising opportunities to work together, and plans to establish a more cohesive group that can advocate to address the unique social challenges in Central Highlands.”

Mr Repine said the region could also become a leader in rural and remote social enterprise, with plans to host a national conference for entrepreneurs in 2021.

Social enterprises are businesses that trade with the goal of addressing social issues, providing access to employment and training for marginalised groups or growing environmental sustainability.

CQUniversity program manager social innovation Steve Williams said the workshop brought people together from across the region from corporate, to government and non-profit organisations.

“The mapping of opportunities and barriers to social enterprise in the region was a particularly engaging and positive exercise that will enable us to build on data uncovered for the next workshops in February 2021,” he said.

“Local people are driving the development of a different way of doing business in the region, looking at employment creation, environmental solutions and cultural aspects to life.”

The workshop gave participants access to the Social Enterprise Toolkit online portal, along with opportunities to explore, design and grow social enterprise ideas.

The event not only give attendees a chance to network with community and industry, but allowed them to pitch and showcase social enterprise prototypes.

To participate in future Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project events, register your interest by emailing socialinnovation@cqu.edu.au.

Aspiring social entrepreneurs can also complete CQUni’s new online social enterprise short course iActivate.

The Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project is funded by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, through its program Tackling Tough Times Together.


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