Rosemary Addis was invited to establish and lead the first dedicated social innovation unit in the Australian Government in 2010, based out of the then Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations. There was no blueprint for this type of function or approach and Rosemary shaped the agenda. While parallels to the social innovation exist in economic development and business, this approach is only starting to be used in social policy and service delivery and within government agencies. Rosemary built and led a team that established the role of social innovation and impact investment as policy tools.
The team built on early initiatives enabling social enterprise to deliver successful initiatives that had significant impact in their own right and enables further policy development in the areas of impact to which they related. For example, the Social Enterprise Development & Investment Funds were a first in social policy and established new investment funds to provide finance to social enterprise. The team built on the engagement and credibility achieved with that initiative to build further momentum and action to develop the market for impact investment in and from Australia, including through Place Based Impact Investment in Australia and IMPACT-Australia. This placed Australia at the forefront of this market globally and resulted in Australia being the only country outside the G7 and EU being invited to participate in the Social Impact Investment Taskforce established under the UK Presidency of the G8.
The approach Rosemary developed for the team also established benchmarks for policy and practice. The team’s work was recognised by the Australian Public service omission as “innovative policy executed well”. The highly networked and strategic approach combining rigour and flexibility to deliver better outcomes was written up by former McKinsey & CO partner, Liana Downey as a ground breaking model of ‘networked incubation’.