Community consultation is underway to establish proposed models for a Civil Society National Centre for Excellence, and members of the philanthropic and nonprofit communities are encouraged to participate in a Phase 2 Survey.

In June, the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) was engaged by the Federal Government to conduct research and a stakeholder engagement project to provide recommendations about the establishment of the proposed Civil Society National Centre for Excellence (NCE).

The Centre for Social Impact is a collaboration of four universities – the University of New South Wales; Swinburne University of Technology; the University of Western Australia and The University of Melbourne.

CSI CEO Andrew Young has said that the proposed NCE will not be a replacement for beleaguered regulatory body, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), which the Federal Government has pledged to abolish.

“The NCE’s focus is strengthening civil society and not on issues related to the ACNC, which is explicitly out of scope for the NCE consultation project. The NCE is to be independent of government,” he says, stressing that the new civil society organisation will not serve the regulatory function of the ACNC.

The now complete Phase 1 of the CSI consultation process explored understandings of civil society and what a National Centre for Excellence for Civil Society could aim to achieve in this context. CSI has published an interim report detailing three draft models for the NCE as a result of the Phase 1 research.

Generosity_NCE-Report_CSIThe proposed models will be refined and a preferred model finalised through a second phase of stakeholder consultation over the next month. CSI will make its recommendation to the Australian Government about the preferred model in early September.

The three draft models announced this week are:

  1. – The Centre for Effective Civil Society Organisations
  2. – The Centre for Civil Society from Grassroots to Government
  3. – The Centre for Stronger Civil Society Organisations as Catalysts for Civil Society

Details of the models can be seen in the CSI report.

Phase 2 of CSI’s community consultation is underway. Anyone “with an interest in strengthening civil society” is invited to participate in the process, with an online survey open from 21 July to 15 August 2014 through the project website.

People can also participate in workshops being held in several cities in August – the registration is also on the website.

“The bottom line is this,” says Young; “Whether large or small, in favour of the ACNC or not, part of an organisation or grassroots community member, there is an opportunity to engage as constructively as we can and propose the best possible model for the proposed National Centre for Excellence.”

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