The Centre for Social Impact believes in developing great leadership, governance and talent for social purpose organisations. We need the brightest minds to make the boldest changes that will build a stronger social system for all.

Current context for social impact leadership in Australia

Changing the social system to build a stronger Australia requires a special kind of leadership and talent. We need collaborative leaders who can adopt a systems mindset to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. We also need to professionalise and incentivise the creation of social value across sectors so that social purpose organisations have equal chance to attract the talent it needs. On both counts - that's a rare thing.

Without great leadership there can be no great social change.

Australia has a false economy for talent – particularly in social purpose roles. Without investment in the human capital we need to drive positive social change into the future, we will stand still. Or worse, we will move backwards.

There are extraordinary social purpose leaders in Australia and well-meaning talent who lack the learning and development, time and resources adopt a systems thinking approach to change. All eyes are on the prize of fixing the problems of the day.

There are social purpose organisations thinking strategically with a vision and mission that calls for systems change, who are unable to attract the talent they need because they lack the funds for attractive remuneration and the diversity of roles to provide exciting opportunities.

A way forward

We need bright minds with big ideas to work together and build a stronger social system for Australia. They need knowledge. They need opportunity. They need to be valued.

Leaders of social change will need a systems thinking approach to address complex problems with many interconnected components. They will need to manage up, out, down across organisations, sectors and schools of thought. They will be operating in an even more resource constrained environment in the future and so collaboration and finding smart ways to make use of limited access to talent will be needed. It can be done.

CSI and leadership

The Centre for Social Impact believes we need great leadership, management and governance to drive positive social change.

For our current and future leaders of social change in Australia to be effective in their changemaking we need:

  • to value the social purpose talent pool and as with outcomes, reward the most effective performers;
  • to invest in developing the knowledge and know-how of social purpose leaders and managers to enable them to work across and with complex systems and multiple stakeholder groups;
  • to diversify and blend the opportunities across sectors to deliver social value and to enable social enterprise to grow in scale and efficacy.

Our Graduate Certificate in Social Impact – now in its fifth year – provides the most comprehensive, holistic curriculum for social leaders adopting a systems thinking approach to change. The program looks at the whole social system and provides students with a better understanding and practical guidance on defining, measuring and reporting outcomes; social innovation and social enterprise, established and new investment and finance models; and leadership for social change.

We have also launched an undergraduate course at the University of New South Wales, Australia. This cross-faculty program means that students of all disciplines will have the opportunity to understand systems thinking in the context of social change and apply this in their varied future careers.

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