Building a Better Australia

Co-operatives are democratic enterprises devoted to the service of their members and to the service of their members and to the communities in which they operate. This has been their history in Australia – quiet achievers on half of those that they serve. There great successes range from credit unions to agricultural co-operatives, from local community organisations to large consumer co-operatives. – Bob Debus AM

2012 has been the International Year of the Co-operatives and the quote above from Bob Debus AM, former Attorney-General and Minister for Environmental & Co-operative Societies NSW, features in the Patron’s Message in the book produced to celebrate the year, Building a Better Australia.

Co-operatives are innovative groups usually formed to meet a specific community need – which is exactly how the University Co-operative Bookshop Ltd, known as The Co-op Bookshop, started in 1958. It was formed by a group of students in a garden shed at the University of Sydney with an aim to provide cheaper textbooks. Since then the aim has remained the same and the Co-op has grown to have over 1.6 million members – making it the largest member owned retailer in Australia. And, in 2013 the Co-op will open new stores on campus at Edith Cowan University and Victoria University, taking the national footprint stores to 52.

If you want to know more about the number of co-operatives in Australia, and the role they have played in both our social and economic history Building a Better Australia is a great place to start. Written by Mark Derby features the stories of more than 50 Australian co-operatives, including us (page 78-79).

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More information about co-operatives can also be found online at Co-operatives Australia.

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