If there is anything to gain from the recent budget in Australia for the community sector, it is an even greater understanding of the need for social enterprise to operate independently of government purse-strings.
For Marina Chand at World Wellness Group, with over 15 years’ experience in this field, standing on your own two feet financially is vital for an organisation to protect itself from the changing priorities in politics: “The greatest challenge working for WWG is getting a financially sustainable social enterprise set up without government funding for our core business. We want to be completely independent so that if there’s a change of policy or government, we’re still left standing.”
Such is WWG’s passion for social justice and zest to operate independently that they receive the largest number of asylum seekers in their GP clinic than any other clinic in Brisbane- and they do this with fewer resources than the other services! ‘Because of our innovation and dedication’, says Marina, ‘we have attracted some great sponsors and partners including OHO, Dress for Success and most recently Allianz Global Assistance. It feels great to have these organisations behind us.’
WWG are also continuing to apply this model in their efforts to initiate a community acupuncture clinic. Using an efficient method of treating multiple patients at one time, Marina believes that with a small start-up investment and the collection of a nominal fee from clients, the clinic could well be on the road to sustainability.
What’s more ‘If the clinic can pay for itself, it will become part of our core business and a key clinical program available to very socially and economically disadvantaged people and the wider community. It will also help WWG to honour the holistic model we are committed to.’
With their self-sustaining commitment to the improvement of health and wellbeing for asylum seekers and others, Marina and her colleagues at WWG have demonstrated the benefits of economic independence for social enterprise to weather any financial or funding storm.