Phillip Blond, Niki Vincent, Nicholas Gruen and James Whelan | TACSI, Adelaide, 14 August

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In conversation: Big Society and Australia

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Level 1, 279 Flinders Street ADELAIDE, Tuesday 14 August, 5:30-7:30pm

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CPD Fellow James Whelan, former public service Research Director and lead author of the CPD report, Big Society and Australia, will lead the panel response to an address by Phillip Blond – author of Red Tory and architect of the Big Society policy ideas drawn on by David Cameron’s UK government.

Much ink has been spilt about the promise and perils of the Big Society since it was first championed by David Cameron’s Conservative Party in the lead up to their election in 2010. While many saw the potential in devolving power to communities and providing greater support for cooperatives and social enterprises, there remains scepticism about the ulterior motives of the Big Society in terms of winding back the size of the state. The recent austerity measures in the UK have prompted further reflection on the ability for civil society to effectively organise in the face of disinvestment in civic infrastructure such as libraries and community centres and programs.

Joining us is Phillip Blond, key intellectual architect of Cameron’s Big Society agenda. Phillip will explore the origins of the Big Society, more recent developments in the UK, and some thoughts about its application in the Australian context. He will be joined in conversation by CPD Fellow James Whelan, lead author of Big Society and Australia – how the UK Government is dismantling the state and what it means for Australia, and leading thinkers Nicholas Gruen and Niki Vincent.

The ideas of the Big Society are proving attractive for political parties in Australia and are likely to find their way into policy platforms in coming years. This event then provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the UK experience and consider what we might usefully take from the Big Society experience and how we might best avoid the pitfalls.

Phillip Blond, Director ResPublica

Phillip is an internationally recognised political thinker and social and economic commentator. He founded ResPublica in 2009 and is an academic, journalist and author. He is the author of Red Tory (Faber and Faber 2010) which sought to redefine the centre ground of British politics around the ideas of civil association, mutual ownership and social enterprise. His ideas have influenced the agenda around the Big Society and civil renewal and have helped to redefine British and international politics.


James Whelan, Fellow, Centre for Policy Development
Nicholas Gruen, CEO Lateral Economics and Chair TACSI
Niki Vincent, CEO Leaders Institute of South Australia


Brenton Caffin, CEO The Australian Centre for Social Innovation


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