August 15, 2018

CEO Update - August 2018

Photo from CSI's ten-year anniversary event. L-R Peter Shergold, Stella Avramopoulos, David Gonski, Amanda Young, Kristy Muir. Credit: Lucy Leonardi

We are 10!

With birthdays, especially significant ones, like reaching double-digits, it is well worth taking the time to pause, reflect, learn, look to the future, and, of course celebrate.

I have been lucky enough to be part of CSI for almost half of this ten years – as CSI’s Research Director and as its third CEO. There have been successes and failures and an enormous amount of evolution.

I’m proud that across our Universities CSI’s people, partners and projects have influenced how people, organisations and policy makers think and act, what they commit to, fund and deliver. We have taught thousands of industry leaders; created tools to assist people to measure their impact, collaborations and social enterprises; developed guides to help enable effective social purpose leadership and collaboration across the ecosystem; we have evaluated and supported small micro-enterprises to big NFPs; and influenced policy.

There is still much work left to do.

As a country, we have achieved many great things. We are a nation richer than we could have imagined. We have had over two and a half decades of unprecedented economic growth and have been at the forefront of incredible examples of innovations and social and economic change.


This nation of ours faces many social challenges.

  • We have not managed to achieve the key goals of the Uluru statement from the heart or closed the gap between our Indigenous and non-Indigenous people;
  • 1 in 200 people are homeless on any given night;
  • We still have poorer educational and employment outcomes for people who have mental health issues, disabilities and are from low socioeconomic backgrounds;
  • Place based disadvantage remains entrenched;
  • 2.4m Australians are living in high or severe levels of financial stress;
  • 17.5% of our children are living in poverty;
  • 20% of our richest Australians are earning 5.4x that of our poorest 20% and wealth is 70x higher;
  • And, in this increasingly digitally connected world, digital exclusion – access, affordability, and ability to use it - remains a pressing challenge.

At the same time, the landscape for how we respond to these challenges has and is changing:

  • We’ve moved from a traditional 3 sectors to a social purpose ecosystem: with corporates entering from a shared value perspective, social enterprises increasing, new social intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs;
  • We’ve got new social innovations and funding models;
  • And changes to the way we fund, contract and approach essential services, including the ramp of the marketisation of human services and increased expectations to understand whether funding is making a difference through outcomes measurement?

While we have some incredible leaders and work with them across the NFP, business, philanthropic and government sectors, we face many challenges:

  • As any economist will tell you, markets can and will fail and we therefore need adequate safety nets in place;
  • It is still incredibly difficult to find funding for pathways to impact and we need to fund the unfundable – like new infrastructure, collaborations and capacity building;
  • Institutional trust has continued to decline across all sectors and needs rebuilding;
  • And we’ve seen some serious systemic leadership failures leaving me to ask more than once, “Has leadership lost its moral compass and courage?”
  • Internationally, we’ve seen frightening trends in geo-politics, which leaves us as a nation to stop and take stead of where we are and where we want to go into the future.

To this end, Richard Flannagan in his address to the Garma Festival warned, “The world is being undone before us. If we do not reimagine Australia, we will be undone too.”

Not just at CSI, but at so many of our partner organisations and businesses, we are actively working to reimagine Australia. I am proud to be a part of that.

CSI will continue to be passionate, committed, driven, rigorous and full of hope for the future. We aim to help enable others to deliver social impact. We will continue to build the capacity of our current and future social impact leaders and undertake leading research and activity that helps catalyse positive social change. Excitingly, we are embarking on our biggest piece of capacity building infrastructure yet, through Amplify Social Impact, and I’m thrilled that we will be doing this with others.

To our friends, colleagues and partners, thanks for joining us for our first ten years of impact. We have benefited enormously from the talent, contribution and commitment from CSI’s founders, partners across sectors, our current and past Board members, Advisory Councils, our alumni and, of course, the talented CSI team across our three Universities.

Thanks for being part of our story in the past, present and into the future. In Richard Flannagan’s powerful words: “We must choose to become history’s actors, all of us, because no one else will change these things for us”. I look forward to acting in partnership with you.


Kristy Muir



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