Nundah Community Enterprise Cooperative

For many people with a disability, getting and maintaining stable employment remains a challenge. In 1998, the Nundah Community Enterprise Cooperative (NCEC) was set up to create sustainable employment and training opportunities for a group of long-term unemployed people with intellectual and learning difficulties. From a shoestring budget, the employee owned co-operative has grown to now providing over 7000 hours of annual work to its 20 members. Read their story.

Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative (NCEC) was established in 1998 and provides meaningful employment for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues in the Brisbane area. Using the co-operative model of business, the not-for-profit provides its worker members with opportunities to work in garden maintenance and catering with the support of local businesses, community and local government.

In the north-east Brisbane region, individuals with such disabilities were finding it increasingly difficult to find meaningful employment following successive attempts only ending up in frustration and failure. With unemployment among persons with a disability rising, a local community organisation, Community Living Association (CLA) discussed how to create and find work that helped provide a sense of purpose, identity and dignity for this group.

In 1998, the CLA held its first meeting to set up NCEC with the employee owned co-operative established in July of the same year. Starting off as a jobs club with a couple of borrowed lawnmowers to gaining a partnership with the Brisbane City Council and opening a café and catering business, the NCEC has continued to grow since its formation.

The operating structure of the NCEC is focused around the involvement of NCEC’s worker members wherever possible. The NCEC can be broken up into the Board, its members, the businesses and key partner organisations all working in tandem with each other.

Today, the NCEC has over 20 member workers generating 5000 hours of work annually. The success of the NCEC is due to its ability to harness the different resources – financial, human and intellectual, relationship and operational.

The challenges faced by the NCEC can be separated into four key areas: governance, revenue, member productivity and ownership.

Committed to sharing its learnings and experiences in establishing the co-operative, the NCEC published a report which documents their experiences to date.

A number of key learnings emerge from the establishment of the NCEC including the importance of social procurement, balancing participation and production and the necessity of financial support.

Browse the NCEC Case Study Bibliography.

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