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Strengthening social enterprise to boost Central Highlands community

Published:03 December 2020

CQUni's Office of Social Innovation and Central Highlands Community Services launched the Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project.

Central Highlands’ blossoming social enterprise community has been given a boost, with a new partnership to grow local skills and networks in the for-good sector.

CQUniversity and Central Highlands Community Services (CHCS) unveiled the Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project at CQUni’s Emerald Campus on Wednesday 25 November, with more than 20 enthusiastic locals attending the launch and workshop.

CEO of CHCS Blake Repine said the event was an “eye-opener” for attendees, as the session captured the depth and diversity of local organisations and businesses tackling a wide range of social issues in Central Highlands, and beyond.

“Launching this project has connected many social enterprises in our region,” 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.”

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.

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.

CQUniversity Program Manager Social Innovation Steve Williams said the workshop brought people from across the region together where valuable connections were made.

“It was fantastic to see such a range of people attend the workshop at the Emerald Campus – from corporate, to government and non-profit organisations,” he said.

“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.

“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.

CQUniversity Associate Vice President (North Queensland and Hinterland) Professor Pierre Viljoen said CQUniversity was a leader in social enterprise education and support.

“The events not only give attendees a chance to network with community and industry, but allow 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, more information at cqu.edu.au/iactivate.

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