Hosted by ACRE (Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship) in association with SEWF 2022, the Rural Gathering (2-5 October) was held in Northeast Victoria – a rural region that is a hot bed for social enterprise in Australia. Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS), in partnership with SEWF via the International Social Enterprise Observatory (ISEO) were able to support delegates from the Scottish third sector to attend SEWF22 in-person. Included in those receiving support is Aimee, our Rural Social Enterprise Coordinator.
The final day of the Rural Gathering and SEWF22 consisted of a Rural Forum planned to be help in under a marquee in the Gaol exercise yard. Unfortunately, due to adverse weather the Forum had to be moved to the training room. The first session began with a Welcome to Country by Tiffany Winters from the Yarruu Indigenous Corporation. There were then several sessions which followed, the first of which looked at how community-led rejuvenation in rural areas is playing out internationally and featured a few speakers from the Scottish Delegation.
The next session looked at the same topic but from the perspective of rural Australia, there were a number of similarities between both approaches but some key differences at Government level. The next session focused on building the social enterprise ecosystem in rural communities and looked at the role and value of the intermediary. Aimee was able to outline how the Rural SE Hub and the Rural Social Enterprise Network have been successful in creating opportunities within rural communities.
The following session was titled ‘Developing enterprise capabilities in the next generation’ which led into the Social Enterprise Schools marketplace organised by the Social Enterprise Academy Australia. This marketplace featured school children from Northeast Victoria who had tried their hand at being social entrepreneurs and were trading a variety of products within the Gaol.
The Forum reconvened to discuss the critical ingredients for accelerating community-led rejuvenation in a rural setting. Some of the main themes of this session included:
- Impact investments rural style
- First Nations Practice
- Network Entrepreneurship
- Solving local issues and creating opportunities
After another wonderful lunch, attendees made their way back to the training room to consider how they would build the Rural Gathering Manifesto with a share back of key principles identified in each of the ‘Go Deeper’ sessions. Each attendee of the Rural Gathering was asked to consider what the Manifesto means for their role and what they can contribute. There were then some closing remarks from Matt Pfahlert and Gerry Higgins before attendees said their goodbyes and went their separate ways.
Aimee left the Rural Gathering feeling invigorated and ready to implement some of the learning and experience that she had gained from SEWF 22 into her role with the Rural SE Hub to ensure that rural communities have the support they need to thrive.