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Australian Unity welcomes a mutual approach to delivering public services

03 Sep 2014

Welcoming today’s launch of the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals’ white paper: Public Service Mutuals: a third way for delivering public services in Australia, Group Executive Kimina Lyall said the inherent characteristics of mutual organisations—focused on returning profits to improve services for members—make them ideally suited to deliver public services.

Mutual companies such as Australian Unity operate on commercial principals without the need to return profits to shareholders. They aim to deliver shared value for members and the community, and are established in response to an identified community need.

The white paper calls on governments, challenged to continue to operate some public services for operational and fiscal constraints, to consider the mutual model as a viable alternative to privatisation. One way this could be achieved is by “spinning out” existing services into mutual organisations, governed for example by employees or customers. Governments could also support existing or new mutuals or cooperatives to broaden their service provision.

As Australian Unity prepares to celebrate its 175th year in 2015, Ms Lyall noted that the white paper talks about the provision of public services by cooperatives or mutuals as the third way.

“In fact, in many instances, it was the first way,” she said. “Long before there was such a thing as governments, people were forming self-governing societies set up to give mutual help.”

“With 13 million Australians currently members of a mutual or a cooperative, this is a sector that remains relevant to the needs of the community. In a time when governments are seeking new ways to deliver public services within budget constraints and rising consumer expectations, there is a clear opportunity for an expanding role for the sector.”

Ms Lyall was part of the task force that prepared the Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals’ white paper. It can be found at:

Further information

Andrew Scannell, Head of Public Affairs and Communications
03 8682 6777 or mobile 0429 187 105

About Australian Unity

Australian Unity is a national healthcare, financial services and retirement living organisation providing services to more than 650,000 Australians, including more than 300,000 members nationwide.  Australian Unity’s history as a trusted mutual organisation dates back 174 years.  It has grown organically—by continually evolving and providing the services and products needed by the communities it serves—as well as through successful strategic mergers and diversification into new business activities.

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