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NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe talks about how NCOSS is working to create a platform to solve some of the state’s most pressing issues in the lead up to this year’s Investing for Good Conference and Marketplace.

As CEO of the NSW Council of Social Service, I’m all too aware of the number of major issues we face. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments when it feels almost insurmountable. But then I see the incredible progress that occurs when different types of stakeholders come together to create change. And suddenly big issues become even bigger opportunities. 

This year’s Investing for Good Conference and Marketplace (I4G) aims to facilitate these invaluable connections, providing a platform for government, organisations and investors to come together to create the ecosystem required for social investment to reach its full potential. 

Here are three major issues I’m confident we can work together to address.  

1. Housing and homelessness

Although it’s one of the top issues of the state, it’s also the one that can be most effectively dealt with by the types of partners that will come together at I4G. Because to create more housing to support our most vulnerable citizens, you need partners who can build houses, you need capital, you need land, you need some form of government intervention and you need civil society or not-for-profit to support people and ensure they’re safe. We intentionally have a housing stream at this year’s conference to bring these groups together to achieve a social outcome. 

2. Cost of living

Another key issue is the overall cost of living – the day-to-day costs a person on a low to middle income incurs just getting through the day, such as transport and energy. 

What we hope to achieve through I4G is to generate ingenious and entrepreneurial ideas from those in a position to address this issue, tapping into the expertise of philanthropic community organisations who are already working in this space, and provide them with opportunities to meet with philanthropic and institutional investors. These investors, like banks, philanthropists and even government might find ways to use this to complement their existing programs or focus areas, and suddenly there’s a huge shift in the right direction. 

3. Domestic family violence and violence against children

If you look at this in more general terms around safety for children overall, there’s amazing scope for different stakeholders to come together and brainstorm ways to scale up operations and increase access to support for vulnerable kids. This could be to protect them from domestic violence, or to ensure they are prepared and ready for school by having really targeted and community-led early child care centres. We’ve seen great success with this approach in the past and will be sharing some relevant case studies at I4G. We spend so much money in this state on foster care and other responses that are too far down the track, at the crisis end. We have a real opportunity to develop solutions earlier in the process that will have a more profound social impact long term.  
Investing Good Good 2017 is being held in Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh on Thursday 9 November. To learn more visit