Co-ops and mutuals move into the mainstream

African-American businessman working on a laptop.

Co-operatives have joined the list of recognised business structures on the Australian Commonwealth’s official business information website, in a move advocates say is another step towards a level playing field for the sector.   

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) has been working with the Commonwealth government to include co-ops on

BCCM CEO Melina Morrison said the inclusion of co-ops on the “types of business structures” page will provide vital information to Australians looking to start a co-operative. 

She thanked the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources for consulting with BCCM on the change.

“[This] development sees co-operatives join the list of recognised business structures such as sole trader, company, partnership, and trust,” Morrison said.

“Moving co-operatives and mutuals into the mainstream is a step towards a level playing field.

“This information will assist the dozens of entrepreneurs that contact BCCM every week looking for information about setting up a democratic, purpose-driven, co-operative enterprise with their peers.”

Morrison said it was encouraging to see ongoing progress towards fully implementing recommendations from a 2016 Senate inquiry into cooperative, mutual and member-owned firms. 

But she said there was still a long way to go before co-ops and mutuals were fairly represented in all areas of business and legislative reform.

She said “Co-ops could play a vital role in helping the nations recover from the COVID crisis.”

“We want to leverage the immense potential of this business model to help rebuild the Australian economy for generations to come,” she said. 

“Until we fix the regulatory hurdles in front of co-ops and mutuals, their ability to fully engage in the economy for their members will be hampered.” 

With thanks to Luke Michael

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