Victoria is at a junction. We are on the crest of a wave of major social reforms. There is the landmark Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence and the Government’s commitment to implementing all its recommendations. At the same time we are embarking on the biggest social reform in Australia’s history: the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Services will be delivered in ways radically differently than in the past.
Yet underlying even these great reforms, tackling deep and entrenched poverty and disadvantage in communities and combating rising inequality remains our next great challenge.
To do this, we need fresh thinking and social innovation to challenge “the way it’s always been done”. This edition of Insight delves into several exciting new approaches, and explores the community sector’s potential to embrace change and opportunity.
The very nature of innovation means there is always a new challenge or opportunity to confront. There is an endless supply of hard truths to acknowledge—including about what might not have worked well in the past—and there is always something fresh to learn.
We know on one level, social innovation is nothing new. Victoria’s community sector has long analysed society through different lenses, adopted fresh perspectives on social challenges and developed new approaches to solving them. In many ways it’s what we do best.
But the very nature of innovation means there is always a new challenge or opportunity to confront. There is an endless supply of hard truths to acknowledge—including about what might not have worked well in the past—and there is always something fresh to learn.
Many organisations are taking up this challenge. Harnessing new business models, funding streams, power shifts and technologies, they are developing bold new strategies, backed up by thorough research, to tackle age-old challenges. They’re entering into collaborations and partnerships that were impossible or unthinkable just years ago.
The type of overarching “new consensus” we need is outlined in this Insight by Tom Bentley, internationally renowned policy advisor and innovation thought leader. He describes a consensus where communities and people facing disadvantage are supported to design and deliver new solutions to social challenges.
RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice Director Rob Hulls explores how new restorative justice models are combining education and research. Centre for Social Impact CEO Kristy Muir outlines key steps to measuring social innovation and UNSW Canberra Professor Helen Dickinson analyses different ways of funding it.
VCOSS Deputy CEO Mary Sayers makes the case for a Victorian Social Innovation Fund to empower local community solutions, and we showcase a series of organisations and social enterprises delivering innovative approaches across Victoria today. Leaders of several key philanthropic groups, Seri Renkin from Ten20 Foundation, Lin Bender from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Melanie Lewis from State Trustees Australia Foundation describe how philanthropic, community sector and government bodies can drive innovative approaches for long-term systemic change.
We’re also delighted to feature FamilyCare CEO David Tennant as our Sector Champion, and bring you several Victorian MPs’ views on how governments can best foster social innovation.
As always, I thank our many contributors for their time and expertise. Insight exists because of their generosity.
Chief Executive Officer
Victorian Council of Social Service