Thinkers in Residence launch Social Capital Residencies final report

The Don Dunstan Foundation’s Thinkers in Residence program has published a new report on how to build a more purposeful economy for South Australia, with nine key recommendations creating an invaluable roadmap for shaping the future of SA’s social development and economy.

The Social Capital Residencies (SCR) report details how not-for-profit and for-profit organisations can collaborate, with inclusivity the key to building and sustaining a purposeful economy.

“It was my pleasure to act as the Principal Thinker in Residence over these two years and to be joined by an incredible cadre of other Thinkers as we worked together with South Australians to imagine a better future for your State,” says Allyson Hewitt, who is currently Vice-President, Impact, MaRS Discovery District (Toronto, Canada).

“The work of the for-purpose sector has already gained momentum in South Australia, with the establishment of Lot Fourteen and a growing expat community returning to South Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If capitalised on, these natural progressions of the report’s recommendations could continue to grow the Purpose Economy,” Ms Hewitt says.

“We also highlight that larger corporates are essential to championing South Australia as a leader in the Purpose Economy. The road to a purposeful economy must include organisations of all size and stature, including the big four consulting agencies, and other large companies with bases in SA,” says Ms Hewitt.

Chair of the Don Dunstan Foundation, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, has welcomed the report and says the work of the five Thinkers will be invaluable to the state.

“As all of our Thinkers in Residence programs have done, the Social Capital Residencies report will bring additional thought leadership to South Australia.”

“Our warmest gratitude goes to our former Thinkers for the work they did while in the state, and for producing this informative report,” says Dr Lomax-Smith.

Launched in 2017, the Social Capital Residencies program ran until June 2019 and saw nine visits to the state from five social innovation experts from around the globe. Over the two years, these expert Thinkers met with over 8,000 South Australians through workshops, events and roundtables.

Following the guidance of expert Thinkers, and with SA’s best interest at the forefront of the minds of all stakeholders, SA holds the opportunity to pave the way for national economic development that will see greater outcomes and social returns for the broader community; an economy that is community centred.

The Social Capital Residency’s final report is available here.

SA’s creative thinkers stick together amid pandemic.

Written by Edward McLeish

Socially, culturally, politically and economically, it’s been a tough time for South Australia’s arts industry.

But the state’s COVID-free circumstances would place it better against other states’ creative sectors as it sings, dances, paints and plays its way out of a pandemic.

That’s according to a panel headlined by the Don Dunstan Foundation’s (DDF) first Thinker in Residence Martin Elbourne – as he joined the who’s who of SA’s arts industry for a webinar discussing the pandemic’s impacts on cultural institutions.

Adelaide Fringe CEO and Artistic Director Heather Croall facilitated the discussion – which featured Mr Elbourne, Adelaide UNESCO City of Music Director Beck Pearce, Adelaide Festival Artistic Director Rachel Healy and Art Gallery of South Australia Director Rhana Devenport.

Miss Pearce said the coronavirus had a ‘huge impact’ on creative industries – especially in the form of live music.

‘The main challenges were the restrictions to venues and music businesses,’ she said.

‘In terms of capacities and the ability to present live music, live performances have been hugely impacted.

‘The SA music industry contributes over $375 million – it’s a huge contributor to the economy.’

Attracting audiences to venues to dance to and interpret music has gone to a standstill; the inability for the tourism industry to thrive and lure local audiences to venues has dented SA’s economy.

So SA’s music industry and its crusading musicians face sustainability issues as they are constrained to paths of innovation, according to Miss Pearce.

‘Some musicians implement income via hospitality and teaching, which are industries that have also been impacted,’ she said.

Ms Healy said international workers were a big part of the Adelaide Festival; historically, the festival had attracted companies of up to 100 artists from around the world.

‘It’s a time-limited international arts festival – and in the middle of a pandemic, there are issues in programming,’ she said.

‘We’re seeing a bit of work locked in for the 2021 festival, but the majority of work for 2022; what we can’t fit in 2021 will impact how we program our ‘22 and ’23 years.’

Some of the other issues Ms Healy raised included getting visas for international artists through border control, an unwillingness for artists to travel and quarantine, agencies unwilling to offer insurance for incoming artists, the artists’ running costs mid and post-quarantine, and mental health issues.

‘Bureaucracy and anxiety are the main challenges for artists,’ she said.

‘You have to commit to taking one step at a time and keep going until someone tells you that you can’t keep going; everyone globally is in the same boat.

‘Most arts workers are trying to figure out a situation where they’re not sleeping out of their car.’

Ms Devenport said while the visual artists were doing it tough, it didn’t compare to live performers.

‘I really feel for the live arts; the nature of the live art form is about people being together,’ she said.

‘Without artists, everything disappears.’

To support some struggling visual artists, the Art Gallery of South Australia provided six $10,000 bursaries for artists – not something galleries typically do.

But Ms Devenport said the gallery’s annual appeal had more support than ever.

‘We’ve had lots of people deeply concerned about artists,’ she said.

Although community funding was pleasing for the gallery, Ms Devenport hoped there would be more financial support from the government for Australia’s creative industries.

‘In the UK, The Arts contributes seven per cent to its gross domestic product (GDP), and gets one per cent of government support, whereas Australia’s creative industries contribute 6.4 per cent to its GDP and only gets 0.25 per cent of support,’ she said.

While pandemic-specific challenges have impacted the arts industry, the COVID-19 crisis has provided opportunities for innovation among artists.

Mr Elbourne – who joined the webinar from The UK – has ensured successes in the music industry: booking artists at Glastonbury, co-founding WOMAD Festival and promoting festivals globally.

As the DDF’s first Thinker in Residence (2013), Mr Elbourne has evolved SA’s music industry; he said the residency inspired his career’s path over the past seven years.

One of the recommendations he made in the position was bringing the UNESCO City of Music office to Adelaide – currently headed by Miss Pearce.

Mr Elbourne said there opportunities to thrive included utilising its warm climate and rethinking the positioning of night clubs.

‘We might see the end of Hindley St – that’s the worst street in Australia and it ought to be the best street in Adelaide,’ he said.

‘What I’d like to see is large indoor night clubs moved to the outskirts of the city rather than the CBD – like Amsterdam and its super clubs.

‘The last thing opening up will be those night clubs, when people are at an indoors venue and singing and talking loudly – that’s a big no-no for quite some time.

‘But Adelaide’s climate means even in winter, you can go out and do things.’

Ms Healy said her team had been excited by opportunities for more outdoor festivals.

‘There’s always interesting opportunities to create works in non-traditional spaces that will be safer and create an event opportunity,’ she said.

Other ideas Ms Healy thought would bring masses together in a safe way included drive-in concerts, Perspex barriers separating seats in theatres, contract tracing and patron temperature checks.

Ms Croall said transitioning to digital opportunities (including Zoom plays, livestreaming and NEO Online) would meet the needs of some people unable to attend events for health reasons.

‘We’ve found ways to integrate innovations that we’ve got to roll out in the future,’ she said.

Miss Pearce said online platforms for a concert series would ‘break down accessibility barriers’.

‘It’s an opportunity to develop audiences over time,’ she said.

When it came to whether SA was better or worse placed than other states and countries, Ms Devenport said we were better placed as the majority of our industry’s audiences are local.

‘Last year, we had around a million visitors in a town of 1.3 million,’ she said.

Ms Croall said punters within the SA bubble have an opportunity to “crack in” to save the arts industry.  

‘In other galleries, 70 per cent of tickets come from out of town,’ she said.

“At the Adelaide Fringe this year, we sold 850k tickets, and although there were 30,000 tourists, nearly a million tickets sold with most of them local.’

Moving forward, the panel agreed more government funding to The Arts in SA was vital in its revival, and there was an important story to be told about what creative sectors provide households.

For example, Miss Pearce said music was key for many areas of learning.

“Music teaches literacy, social cohesion, empathy and many other things; music makes society better people and there’s a really important story to be told,’ she said.

Don Dunstan Executive Director Ritchie Hollands closed the webinar by quoting Don Dunstan:

The arts are an all-pervading part of our everyday lives. They intrude on us without our realising it, so subtle is their influence and so unrecognised their presence.

The DDF hosts Art For Good, harnessing opportunities in the arts for South Australians.

This includes the South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Award and the Our Mob Emerging Artist Award.

Previous initiatives have included the Social Change Guide, which offers an overview of Adelaide Fringe Festival events with a social change theme, and the Dunstan Film Club, a quarterly movie event with a strong social justice message at its core.

Dr Guy Turnbull’s report is here

Former Adelaide Specialist Thinker in Residence and award-winning UK social entrepreneur Dr Guy Turnbull is encouraging South Australia to step up and grow its co-operative movement.

Dr Turnbull, recognised for successfully opening co-operatives (or social franchises) abroad, has outlined recommendations as part of his role for the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence program, focused on developing South Australia’s Purpose Economy.

“Adopting new co-operative ways of owning and organising a range of economic activity including health and social care services, is the key to strengthening the local economy.”

“There is no greater way to engage an employee and deliver superior outcomes than to make them an owner of the organisation they work for – this is why the employee ownership and co-operative business models are thriving.”

Dr Guy Turnbull

When people have a stake in an organisation like a co-operative, they deliver a much better quality of care. This makes the business more successful and means that profits can be reinvested in staff development and better care.

The right support ecosystem needs to be in place for more co-operatives and mutuals to form in South Australia. This includes:

Dr Turnbull’s final report from his 2018 residency.
  • Establishing a central voice
  • Having strong connections to the global movement
  • Accessing appropriate social investment finance
  • The availability of bespoke business advice and support
  • A supportive legislative environment

Co-operative and social enterprise business models gain traction when they focus on particular sectors – health, aged care, disability as well as creative industries should be prioritised.

There are already great ideas being brought to the table including; bringing together carer co-operatives with primary and allied health professionals and having multi-stakeholder co-operatives of providers and people with disabilities, families and workers, who as member-owners, are engaged in how care is delivered.

These are examples of potential innovative models where South Australia can show national leadership on engagement and outcomes for transformational social care programs such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“I encourage South Australia to identify and nurture more Social Entrepreneurs as people are what matter most in business, including co-operatives and social enterprises.”

Dr Guy Turnbull

Dr Turnbull’s report: ‘Towards a Co-operative State: Securing the Social and Economic Prosperity of South Australia through Corporate Diversity,’ is available here.

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, State Government, tertiary education, allied professional stakeholders and the private sector are currently working with Dr Turnbull, on contributing to the development of a blueprint for action in Australia’s health and social care sector.

Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), comments on Dr Guy Turnbull’s final report.

Call for less government control of Lot Fourteen

In Daily Adelaide’s Independent News | Stephanie Richards 17 June 2019

The non-government sector should have a greater say in the management of Lot Fourteen as the site enters a “critical” stage of development, a visiting scholar will tell the State Government.

Canadian Rhodes scholar and innovation expert Ilse Treurnicht will present a series of recommendations to the State Government in September on how South Australia can learn from other cities’ approaches to building innovation hubs.


Adelaide’s next Thinker in Residence behind one of the world’s largest innovation hubs

Adelaide has welcomed one of Canada’s most successful female innovators and international leaders on improving economic prosperity, to help inform the future development of innovation districts here and foster greater opportunities for cross-sector collaboration.

Dr Ilse Treurnicht, the long-time CEO of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, led the team that famously transformed the former hospital site into one of the largest urban innovation hubs and one that is recognised by cities around the world as a model to follow.

“I’m really excited to be engaging with such a broad range of South Australians and share my experience of bringing the concept of MaRS to life and seeing it develop into a thriving innovation ecosystem,” Dr Treurnicht says.

“Innovation can sometimes be hard for people to grasp, however; in a nutshell it’s about new and better ways of doing things that are of value to us. In our competitive knowledge economy, it is vital for progress,” she says.

“Innovation needs to be incorporated in every sector to not only grow our economy but also address the needs of local communities – socially, culturally and environmentally.

“I’m really looking forward to learning more about innovative initiatives in South Australia as we all strive to convert important ideas and research into products and services, so we can become better at adopting and using these to drive prosperity and purpose.

“When you think about the health sector, it’s all well and good to have new drugs and new gadgets, but it’s prevention, wellness and new care models that will drive the real productivity gains – and South Australia is incredibly well placed to lead in this area.”

MaRS Discovery District is a not-for-profit organisation, leading change by bringing together educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and business leaders, as well as investors and policymakers under one roof. It’s designed to facilitate new approaches to collaboration, support innovators and entrepreneurs to succeed in global markets, as well as improving outcomes by bridging the gap between invention and adoption.

Dr Treurnicht recently ended a 12-year run as the head of Toronto’s MaRS hub.

Don Dunstan Foundation Executive Director David Pearson says MaRS is an outstanding example of the ambition we should have here in South Australia for our innovation precincts – including the emerging one at the old RAH site and to support the future growth of the Tonsley Innovation District as well as the biomedical precinct on North Terrence.

“Canada and Australia are very similar, geographically large and population wise very small, so we have to focus our efforts on convergent spaces and networks, which is why innovation precincts are so important,” Mr Pearson says.
“We’re excited by what Dr Treurnicht can teach us about global best practice in supporting our places for innovation,” he says.

The Don Dunstan Foundation has partnered with the university, business and community sectors to deliver the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence program, with the residencies focusing on growing jobs in the purpose economy – the fastest growing section of the South Australian economy.

“This visit is all about supporting new jobs, attracting investments and driving knowledge based exports,” Mr Pearson says.

“Ultimately, we want to develop a more prosperous and purposeful economy in South Australia that is better able to achieve high social, cultural and environmental impact.”

Dr Treurnicht’s Oration ‘Building The Future On Purpose: A vision for inclusive growth in SA,’ will be held on Wednesday 2 May, at the main entrance foyer of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, at 5.30pm until 7.30pm.


World-famous pioneer of microfinance in Adelaide with vision to lift more people out of poverty


Renowned Nobel Peace Prize winning economist and entrepreneur, Professor Muhammad Yunus, is at the forefront of a world movement towards eradicating poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions.

Professor Yunus is urging South Australians including business and political leaders, not-for-profits and entrepreneurs, to embrace his mission to achieve zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero carbon emissions.

“It’s time to admit that the capitalist engine is broken,” Professor Yunus says.

“In its current form, it will inevitably lead to inequality, unemployment and environmental destruction,” he says.

Professor Yunus articulates the push for a new form of capitalism in his latest book – A World of Three Zeroes: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions.

“I’m calling on a greater commitment to innovation which is focussed on reducing poverty, improving healthcare, education and reducing pollution to protect the environment,” Professor Yunus says.

Pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance, Professor Yunus founded the grassroots Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

“By establishing Grameen Bank, we’ve helped millions of Bangladeshis out of rural poverty by lending them small amounts of money, or microfinance, to set up their own businesses,” Professor Yunus says.

“The model we are working with is to help people who are too poor to qualify for a traditional bank loan and give them the finances to start their own business,” he says.

“Most of the beneficiaries are women and the loans system is based solely on trust. It’s workable, as 98 per cent of loans are repaid.”

Grameen began rolling out micro-finance branches in the United States a decade ago, and last year provided $600 million worth of loans. To date, $27 billion has been leant to nine million women who are living in some of the world’s poorest communities.

In Australia, Grameen Bank is looking to open its first micro-finance branch at Grafton in New South Wales.

The Don Dunstan Foundation’s Executive Director David Pearson says Professor Yunus has created a legacy of real social change in not only Bangladesh but now in many western countries.

“Capitalism is undergoing a revolution and more and more social enterprises are now being created with a commitment to the “Three Zeroes” concept,” Mr Pearson says.

“The social-business model offers a challenge to South Australians to do more and tap into the creativity of young people, utilise latest technology and establish new social enterprises here.”

STEMSEL Foundation in collaboration with the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh, have developed a global movement of Dr Yunus Young Ambassadors (DYYA), to implement the principles of the Three Zeroes, across the social sector, business world, academia and government.

Professor Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. He’s also the bestselling author of “Banker to the Poor.”

Professor Muhammad Yunus – Adelaide events

 WHEN: Thursday, 22 March 2018

WHERE: Australasian Social Business Forum with Professor Yunus at Pembroke School (Theatre), 18 Holden Street, Kensington Park – 10.15am until 3.00pm. Cost: General admission $132 and student/concession $66.

The world’s first social business by kids will be launched to provide scholarships for people in need.


Event host sponsors include Grameen Australia, STEMSEL Foundation, Wyatt Trust, Don Dunstan Foundation, University of Adelaide and Fay Fuller Foundation.

Free Public Lecture: – Flinders University (Matthew Flinders Lecture Theatre), Sturt Road, Bedford Park – 5pm until 6.30pm

Tickets: Event host sponsors include Flinders University, Don Dunstan Foundation, Wyatt Trust, Grameen Australia and STEMSEL Foundation.

WHEN: Friday, 23 March 2018

 WHERE: Student Invention Summit: Funding Inventions for Social Good at University of Adelaide, Bonython Hall, North Terrace – 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. Free event.

Tickets: Event host sponsors include Cognito Foundation, Rotary Gawler, University of Adelaide, STEMSEL Foundation and Grameen Australia.

FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES CONTACT: The Message Bureau, (08) 8223 7703 or 0419 754 564.