CEO Introduction – Carolyn Curtis

Welcome to our new look monthly newsletter, where we will be sharing our work, learning, news and events. We are very excited about this next period of growth for The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) as we continue to support, grow and work alongside some fantastic individuals, communities and organisations.

Over the past six months we have opened a new home base in Sydney and build a stronger portfolio of work and partnerships across Australia. From working with the private and public sectors along with communities to reimagine the way people live as they age, through to designing and testing a new co-parenting model in NSW – we are working hard to build momentum for Social Innovation in Australia.

Absent from the national agenda, Social Innovation is still pushed to the fringes. Despite the richest of case studies emerging nationally and internationally, we still have our work cut out for us in building an evidence base that clearly demonstrates both the social and economic return when it comes to investing in Social Innovation. Moving beyond the rhetoric to building cultures, conditions and capabilities is critical if we are to take the next leap.

As we approach our 8th birthday, the team have been reflecting on the learning, tools and methods we’ve explored and adopted over time. Whilst it’s only part of the picture, building the practice of Social Innovation is a critical piece of the puzzle in the journey towards impact, and we’re committed to playing our part. Our approach to coaching and training is all based on our own practical experience, successes and failures. Grounded in the repeated message that our partners need more than good reports, they need solutions that are tested with people, communities, practitioners and policy makers to truly make a difference in people’s lives.

In this newsletter, you’ll see how we are responding to a growing market that is hungry for this way of working. As we learn, we will continue to share and explore ways to grow Social Innovation in Australia and beyond.

Until next month!

The state is open!

What does the future look like to you, turn your ideas into action at the 2017 Open State festival.

Open State is a festival of collaboration, innovation, ideas and enterprise with the goal to position South Australia as a place open to new ideas, new people and new technology. This festival of ideas, collaboration and sharing around a series of ‘Future” themes will also connect leading national and international expertise with SA government, business and community organisations and inspire a culture of innovation and collaboration in South Australia.

In 2017 TACSI is sponsoring world renowned innovative speaker Indy Johar, architect and co-founder of Architecture firm 00, dedicated to delivering a broad range of activities relating to the shaping of our built environment.

He is also a Senior Innovation Associate with the Young Foundation and a co-founder of Dark Matter Laboratories, which aims to apply complex systems science to value chain innovation, management and relationships.

A frequent lecturer and TED talker, Indy is a qualified architect and policy researcher with projects that range from the scale of low-carbon homes, developing a new class of learning institutions, to community led neighborhood retrofits and ‘mass collaborative’ community master plans.

Indy has taught and lectured at various institutions from Columbia University New York to Said Business School Oxford.

TicketsMore information

Combating loneliness and isolation for ageing Baby Boomers

As part of TACSI’s Innovation Age initiative, funded by the J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust which aims to kick-start a new generation of policy, services and supports to meet the changing needs of Australia’s baby boomers, our project team has been working alongside older people in the community, to design potential solutions that support people to remain socially connected in the circumstances that suit them.

The team, consisting of two TACSI Social Innovators and two ‘senior’ volunteers, conducted one-on-one research interviews and run small group generative research sessions in the office or at people’s homes to capture and summarise the circumstances surrounding how people create and maintain healthy social connections as they transition through the third phase of life, including retirement.

The TACSI team discovered that loneliness and social isolation are often talked about as being the same – with understanding the difference a key to designing effective ways to prevent the negative health and social impacts of both as we age. We also found that many current interventions are aimed at providing the opportunities for people to socialise and are based on the assumption that they have the skills and confidence required to build relationships themselves if they participate. Our research with people and in literature suggests that this is far from the case.

What is Social isolation…?

Social Isolation is an objective concept – it refers to the number of social contacts or interactions a person has, and/or the number of people they have in their social network.

Social isolation is measurable – we can count interactions, and we can track social network development. Both loneliness and social isolation are recognised as issues for people as they age, however little research has been undertaken about how they are inked.

Suffice it to say, then, that any responses to addressing social isolation and loneliness need to take into account both objective outcomes. (increasing interactions) and subjective perceptions (reducing the sense of loneliness) and family); cultural (such as being ostracised for beliefs or actions); or psychological (linked to low confidence, self-esteem or depression).

What is loneliness…?

Loneliness is subjective – we can feel ‘lonely’ even if we are not physically isolated.

Loneliness is really a state of mind, and it can be just as much about not having a sense of meaning or purpose in life as it can be about a lack of friends or companions.

The causes of loneliness are complex – but can be circumstantial (such as losing a spouse through death or divorce, or loss of contact with a close friend); or it can be situational (such as having to move away from friends and family); cultural (such as being ostracised for beliefs or actions); or psychological (linked to low confidence, self-esteem or depression).

Loneliness can be triggered by an event (e.g. death or divorce), or it can evolve over the course of a lifetime.

We are currently testing and trialling communication strategies that will allow people to receive regular ‘nudges’ in the form of resources, ideas, information and opportunities to build people’s capacity to have stronger social connections. This is tailored to their circumstances, and current most pressing needs, whether that is to build social skills, social confidence or social opportunities, and paced to match their capacity at any given time, even if that means taking only tiny steps forward. In summary, our future is to explore some easy ways for people to find, make and maintain good social connections, whatever their starting place.

Our vision is that, as people grow older and move through the transitions associated with later life, they remain socially connected in the circumstances that suit them.

Want to know more…?

Bob Wilson is one of our Senior volunteers on the project team. He has written a blog on his observations while working on the project and personal reflections on social connectedness and Baby Boomers.

Read it here

Family by Family – Daring to dream

We recently had a huge cause to celebrate when Toni, a once Seeking Family and now Sharing Family with Family by Family realised a long-held dream of becoming a make-up artist. For Toni and her family, it also was the continuation of a desire to demonstrate what it means to thrive and create a different reality for herself and her daughter.

Last October Toni shared a passion with the Family Coach – her passion for make-up artistry.  She had often thought about becoming a make-up artist, but couldn’t see how to get there.  On sharing her creative work, the Family by Family Coach worked with Toni to build a plan for how she could better understand what she needed to do to make her dream a reality.  This first step of coaching, lead to a visit to a training centre, where she enrolled and completed a six-month Beauty and Make-up course.  The story doesn’t end there! Within a week of graduating, she’s landed her first gig on the film set of a prominent feature film being shot in Australia. Proving that having a dream, getting the help to work towards it, and then be able to achieve is within reach with assistance from the fantastic team at Family by Family.

For Toni, it has meant that she now knows ‘she can dare to believe in change, and knows that with a little work, her dreams and her families can become a reality.’ – what a fabulous outcome!

Congratulations Toni from all of us at Family by Family and TACSI.

More information

Weavers celebrates 12 months of open sourcing!

Designed by carers for carers, Weavers has now been open sourced for 12 months, heralding a new achievement for the TACSI team.

The program, designed and trialed with carers in South Australia, is the winner of an International Design Award. With personalised support from carers, who themselves have been through the minefield of caring for a loved one, Weavers volunteers are able to support family carers to navigate and negotiate the service maze, work through emotional changes, stay connected to others and sustain both basic and important things for themselves.

Evaluation has shown outcomes for carers, care recipients and carers.

As part of the ongoing commitment to the development of Weavers, in 2016 TACSI decided to open source the model so that other organisations could run the model for free.

Register to access the open source resources for Weavers

TACSI people – Steve Goss

Introducing Steve our new work placement who is currently placed with TACSI as part of his Master of Social Work studies.

Steve’s youth-work background stems from four years in residential care within Families SA/DCP, ten Operation Flinders programs, a bushwalking adventure therapy program for at-risk youth, a year at the Wiltja Residence Program boarding house, which sees Indigenous students from the APY lands study their SACE in Adelaide and three overseas trips with students through Antipodeans Abroad, a travel education company, as Expedition Leader.

Steve is passionate about youth and will be with the TACSI team for the next four months learning about service, policy and process design, which informs and influences the practical delivery of ‘conventional’ organisations and bodies.

Not content with extensively throwing himself into his work, Steve’s downtime pleasure is making furniture and playing football, as well as hanging out with his friends and girlfriend.

According to Steve, he’s

“super excited to be exposed to, and involved in, a more macro level of working with human services, to see positive change for the less fortunate of our unequal society”.

Our new training catalogue is here!

TACSI is very excited on the release of our new training catalogue detailing all our workshops, coaching and seminars that you can access for your organisation.

We aim to create learning experiences with highly trained experts in the social innovation field, which are highly practical and immediately applicable in your work settings. Whether you would like coaching in social innovation practices, help training staff to understand the importance of process and engagement in innovative thinking or would like a bespoke training seminar for your organisation, all our services are listed here including –

  • Coaching
  • Introductory seminars
  • Foundational intensives
  • Specialist skill development
  • Co-design training

We also have a series of more programs that can be tailored to your organisation including Systems Innovation by Design, Funding Innovation for Social Impact, Building In-House Innovation Capability, Social Innovation for Leaders and Managers and Social Innovation for Design Practitioners. We realise that learning is different for everybody and our training covers approaches for designing service models, business models, policy commissioning and funding as well as systems innovation.

Download the catalogue

2017 Upcoming Events

29th August – Dr Ingrid Burkett –  Australia’s Future of Aged Care Summit. (Sydney)

“How to successfully innovate in an age of change”


7th September – Kerry Jones – The National Palliative Care Conference. (Adelaide)

“Weavers: a peer model of support for family carers”


National dates

Adult Learners Week 1st-8th September


For more information or how to attend these events contact info@tacsi.org.au or go to Facebook/ozinnovation