|Good Life Cooperative||
The Good Life Cooperative was established by the National Steering Group on Self-Directed Services and Personal Budgets, which was commissioned in 2011 at The Self-Management Conference. Doing It Ourselves in Aged Care, Chronic and Mental Illness, Disability and Special Education, hosted by Social Enterprise Partnerships.
The critical issue in the establishment of the Cooperative has been development of a suitable member-controlled technology platform. This has taken many years to develop. It has required a careful mix of mutual values and technical capabilities. These have now been secured.
The Next Three Years
In the next three years, most large service providers in disability and aged care will merge and form mega-agencies operating on a national basis to take advantage of the NDIS, aged care and mental health reforms. A wave of new for-profit companies will join them. However, many of the traditional providers and most of the new for-profits have a poor understanding of what 'personalised support' and 'self-direction' really mean. Most use the language of 'personalisation' while acting in corporate, managerial ways.
In the next three years, smaller and more innovative support organisations will have to collaborate to compete with these mega-agencies and for-profits. The smaller ones have a competitive advantage over large providers on personalized service, but have serious disadvantages on price and in systems and capacity.
Support workers who have a serious commitment to working in a personalised way with people with disabilities and mental health and ageing challenges are looking for alternatives to the corporate employers. Most want to work locally and support people in flexible ways, with an emphasis on nurturing relationships and skills.
Collaborating at Scale
The Good Life Cooperative is a tool for collaboration between these three groups - individuals and families, support organisations, and support workers - in making self-direction and personalised support work on a large scale.
Digital technology makes the budgeting, purchasing and reporting side of self-direction feasible. It makes the identification of local services and workers possible.
But for digital technology to work for most of us, we also need something human and socially binding - membership-based co-operation. The Good Life Cooperative is a pool of individuals and families, support organisations, and support workers who come together (through membership) to create come common tools (a tech platform, circles of support, networks of peers, budgeting mechanisms, a help-line, emergency support) to pursue a common agenda (living a good life with personalised support and good relationships).
Through membership-based co-operation, the Cooperative allows us to create:
Members constitute the Cooperative’s governing board of ten directors as follows:
Package holders - 3 members of the board elected by all members
Support organisations - 3 members of the board elected by all members
Support workers - 3 members of the board elected by all members
Independent - 1 appointed by the board.
The Cooperative will not seek government funding. It is independent of government policy and service systems, and is accountable only to its members.