Community Economies Meets with Greens Senator

Soft Landing Visit

Researchers Professor Katherine Gibson and Dr Joanne McNeill recently accompanied Australian Senator Dr Mehreen Saeed Faruqi on a visit to the social enterprise Soft Landing.

This was the second meeting with Senator Faruqi (the first female Muslim senator in Australian history) following the release of a Public Declaration on just and sustainable manufacturing in Australia.

The declaration is one outcome from the research project on shifting cultures of manufacturing in Australia, and it is signed by the research team and the manufacturers involved in the study.

One of the manufacturers is Soft Landing, a social enterprise that focuses on employing people who experience barriers to employment and it operates across Australia recycling the components of some of the one million mattresses that are thrown out each year.

Other manufacturers in the study also focus on environmental sustainability and social and economic justice while maintaining firm viability, and include publicly-listed multinational corporations (such as Interface), producer cooperatives (such as Norco and Oz Group), family and private businesses (such as A.H. Beard and Varley Group) and social enterprises (such as Work Ventures).

Following the release of the public declaration in December 2018, the research team of Professor Gibson and Dr McNeill, and Dr Stephen Healy and Associate Professor Jenny Cameron, have met with political representatives, or their senior staff, from across the political spectrum, including Senator Rex Patrick (Deputy Chair, Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers), Senator Kim Carr (Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research), and The Hon. Pat Conroy MP and The Hon. Mark Butler MP (who are key proponents for a proposed Just Transition Authority).

Other outputs from the research project include a paper in Economic Geography and a rejoinder (based on the 2018 Roepke Lecture in Economic Geography delivered by Professor Gibson at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting), and a video of Hands at Work.