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Innovative vision, skills on show for Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project

Published:28 April 2021

Participants at the Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project strategy and vision session.

Central Highlands’ social entrepreneurs have shared progress on their innovative initiatives, in CQUniversity’s latest sessions for the Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project.

The project, presented in the partnership with Central Highlands Community Services, has included a series of workshops at the CQUniversity Emerald campus, and work to map the region’s social innovation ecosystem.

On Tuesday 27 April, CQUniversity Emerald hosted the vision and showcase sessions for the project, with a range of local participants.

CQUniversity Program Manager Social Innovation Steve Williams said the project is helping make the Central Highlands a hub for social enterprise and innovation.

"Tuesday's vision workshop encouraged participants to identify the themes and values which will support that vision,” Mr Williams explained.

“Local participants chose and endorsed key themes of Connected, Leadership, Locally-Focused, Mindset, and Sustainability.”

Participants represented a diverse range of local organisations, including Central Highlands Community Services, Capella, Tieri, Middlemount Community Support Network Inc. (CTM LINKS), CHRRUP (Central Highlands Regional Resources Use Planning), and the Emerald Medical Group.

“The vision workshop used a Human-Centered Design approach to capacity building of a social enterprise ecosystem,” Mr Williams said.

A social enterprise “ecosystem” map of the region has been developed over the past six months of the project, with the final draft to be released soon.

Participants in the project also shared what they had learned, and how they’ve used social enterprise to benefit the local community.

Presenters included Central Highlands Community Services CEO Blake Repine, Emerald Neighbourhood Centre community garden partner Mehraban Farahmand, sustainability not-for-profit CHRRUP (Central Highlands Regional Resources Use Planning) CEO Simone Parker.

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

Project supporter and peak body the Queensland Social Enterprise Council (QSEC) estimates that a successful Australian social enterprise generates on average 15 jobs in its community, and new start-ups in regional communities can deliver huge social benefits.

CQUniversity is also partnering with QSEC for the Reset and Recovery with Impact project, establishing social enterprise networks across Far North Queensland, Central Queensland and the Western Darling Downs.

Aspiring social entrepreneurs can also complete CQUni’s new online social enterprise short course iActivate, more information at cqu.edu.au/iactivate.