The 7 Principles of Co-operatives
Co-operatives are formed by people who have consciously chosen the co-operative business model in preference to a private company. Co-operatives are part of a tradition and seven fundamental principles have been identified. They are shared by co-operatives worldwide, and the wording here can be found on the website of Fair Trading NSW, the body that oversees the business activities of all co-ops and many other organisations in NSW.
1. Voluntary and open membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all who are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without discrimination.
2. Democratic member control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in the setting of policies and decision-making. Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
3. Member economic participation
Members contribute equally to the funds of the co-operative and control the allocation of surplus funds.
4. Autonomy and independence
Co-operatives are independent organisations controlled by their members. Any agreements entered into with other organisations must ensure democratic control by members and the co-operatives independence.
5. Education, training and information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operative. They inform the public about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6. Co-operation among co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together.
7. Concern for community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
Business Council of Co-ops and Mutuals
The co-operative movement is supported by a representative body, the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals. It was formed in 2013 and represents “Australia’s member and customer-owned businesses and peak industry groups”, who number 13 million members by the BBCM’s count.
The BCCM has also launched a .coop domain, only available to co-ops, so that we can distinguish ourselves on the web as democratically controlled businesses.
NSW Food Co-ops Conference
In July, Flame Tree and almost every other food co-op in NSW attended a co-ops conference, held at UTS in Sydney. It was buzzing with people keen to work together on issues large or small, practical, economic or theoretical, to help each other do what we do. We hope there will be another conference in July 2015.
Local sociologists Dr Mike Donaldson and Dr Nick Southall have written a book Illawarra Co-operatives: The First Hundred Years describing the growth of co-operative dairy farming in particular and the exploitation from the largely monopolised private milk distribution companies that drove the farmers to start their own distribution network. Click on the image for the entire book (40 pages, pdf).
Here is a list of food co-ops around Australia. (We’ve included ourselves so that if you’re copying and pasting, you don’t have to add us in for a complete list.)
New South Wales & ACT
Bathurst Wholefood Co-operative
The Beanstalk Organic Food
Blue Mountains Food Co-op
Shops 1 & 2 Ha’penny Lane, Katoomba NSW 2780
Ph: 02 4782 5890
Broadway Food Co-op (UTS)
Candelo Bulk Wholefoods Co-op Ltd
Fairy Wren Co-operative
Flame Tree Community Food Co-op
374 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul NSW 2515
Ph: 02 4267 5792
Manly Food Co-op
Rhubarb Food C0-op
PH: 0415 304 369 (Rebecca)
Thoughtful Foods Co-op
The University of Sydney Food Co-op
Upper Clarence District Co-op
18 Court Street Tabulam NSW 2469
Ph: 02 6666 1200
Australian Capital Territory
The Co-op Food Shop (formerly ANU Food Co-op)
Eco-bug Food Co-op
Building 21, Union Complex University of Queensland
St Lucia QLD 4067
Ph: 07 3377 2255
Hot Banana (Griffith Uni)
Maple Street Co-op
Friends of the Earth Food Co-op
The Pantry South Melbourne Co-op
Melbourne University Food Co-op
1st Floor, Union House Parkville, VIC 3010
Ph: 03 9347 8716
Web: in progress
Organarchy (RMIT Food Co-op)
RMIT Building 8, Level 4 Swanston St
SKOF (St Kilda Organic Food Cooperative Inc)
Source Community Wholefoods Co-op
Hobarg Organic Food Co-op
225 Murray St, Hobart
Lorinna 7306 (towards Cradle Mtn)
Ph: 03 63635030
Channel Living Food Co-op
3399 Channel Highway, Woodbridge
Flinders Organic Food Co-op
Good Food Co-op (Clarence Park)
Clarence Park Community Centre 72-74 East Ave (Cnr East Ave & Canterbury Tce)
Black Forest SA 5035
Ph: 08 8293 8166 \ Fax: 08 8293 2886
Playford Community Food Co-op, Smithfield Plains Shopping Centre
Shop 3, 240 Peachey Road Smithfield Plains, SA 5114
Ph: 08 8254 3641
Shop 5, 4 Hamblynn Road, SA 5113
Ph: 08 8287 4299
Planet Oganic Darwin Wholefoods
Shop 31 Charles Darwin University
Casuarina Campus NT 0810
Ph: 08 8946 7736