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Connexus : Issue 38
The United Nations designating 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives is a defining moment for cooperative and mutual businesses worldwide. It’s a platform for increasing awareness and understanding of the customer-owned business model and it will stimulate events and leadership with legacies that last well beyond 2012. ‘IYC 2012’ will be formally launched on October 31 this year at UN headquarters in New York. The activities that follow will aim to raise the profile of the cooperative and mutual business model around the world. This will include conferences and expos, media exposure, television advertisements, competitions, case studies, awards and high-profile ambassadors promoting the benefits of customer-owned businesses. Here in Australia, a UN and ministerial- endorsed IYC 2012 steering committee was formed early last year. The committee, of which Abacus is a member, has developed a program of activities for 2012 including national and regional trade expos, a youth summit, a targeted media and public relations campaign, a website, and a range of publications and branded collateral. Cook/restaurateur and 2010 Senior Australian of the Year Maggie Beer will be an ambassador. There will be issues of a commemorative $1 coin and a special self-stamped envelope. The items have been approved by the Australian Mint and Australia Post, with the support of the parliamentary secretary to the treasurer, David Bradbury. The Australian Bureau of Statistics will feature IYC 2012 in its annual yearbook and ramp up its coverage of credit unions, building societies and other financial mutuals. In August, the leaders of more than 40 cooperative and mutual businesses around Australia gathered in Canberra to set a strategic agenda for the development of the sector, commencing with the UN-declared international year. A major outcome was a near-unanimous decision to form a new national body representing businesses with social values. Many of its members will be drawn from the cooperative and mutual sectors. Getting involved IYC 2012’s longer-term benefits for mutual banking institutions will depend heavily on the industry’s level of participation. The true opportunity lies in using it as a focal point to connect with members and government to highlight the values inherent in the industry’s model. What makes it special? What does membership mean to members and the wider community? The industry can also highlight the international principles under which it operates, its governance practices and its structures. The timing for such a year couldn’t be better. In a recent statement of support, Bob Debus, a former NSW minister for cooperatives and attorney- general and IYC 2012 Patron, said: “The recent global financial crisis showed everyone the limitations of a business model concerned only with short-term profit at the expense of longer-term A year of promotion and recognition With next year being the International Year of Cooperatives, the mutual sector has an opportunity to do much more than bask in the spotlight. By Daniel Newlan 20 connexus www.abacus.org.au NEWS 20 connexus www.abacus.org.au