Kernot among speakers at first Social Enterprise Symposium

Jason Dougherty

FORMER Australian Democrats leader and Labor Party Federal member Cheryl Kernot will be among speakers at the inaugural Social Enterprise Symposium: Entrepreneurship for a better Northern Rivers.

The event, the first of its kind in regional Australia, is a one-day exchange of ideas which aims to promote social innovation and look at ways of diversifying the local economy.

It will be held at Byron Theatre on Friday, November 22.

Ms Kernot, 64, has spent her life as a school teacher, radio producer, politician, academic and political activist.

She led the Democrats from 1993 to 1997 before resigning to join the ALP, winning the Queensland seat of Dickson at the 1998 Federal election. She lost the seat in 2001.

Ms Kernot is now with the Centre for Social Impact at the University of NSW in Sydney.

Other speakers at the symposium will include Corinne Proske from the National Australia Bank and Helen Willoughby from the Australian Government, both major sponsors.

The all-day event will be preceded by a Business Breakfast Forum at Belongil Bistro, where Ms Kernot will moderate a discussion between representatives of local councils and businesses to look at their supply chains, where they spend their money, who they purchase from and how those purchases can have profound social impact.

The evening before, a dinner will be hosted by the Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC), which is organising the event, and the NAB. It will be attended by Byron Shire Mayor Cr Simon Richardson and Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan.

Sasha Graham from the NRSDC said the symposium intended to build on the innovative work already happening in the region.

"Local businesses, including local councils, can run a successful business enterprise while at the same time improving outcomes for various marginalised groups such young unskilled people, the disabled or those experiencing mental health issues," she said.

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