1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012
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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.
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This article was contributed by New South Wales Fair Trading, Department of Finance and Services.
The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) defines a co-operative as “... an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations, through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise ...”.
The ICA reports that over one billion people are members of co-operatives worldwide and that those co-operatives provide over 100 million jobs around the world. This compares to 328 million people who own shares traded on stock markets (Co-operatives UK, 2012). The largest 300 co-operatives in the world are together worth 1.6 trillion US dollars, equivalent to the GDP of the ninth largest economy in the world: Spain.
Large segments of the populations of some countries are members of co-operatives and they contribute significantly to national economies, either through direct employment or economic activity. <Endnote 1>
For example, ICA statistics <Endnote 2> show the following:
a) National co-operative membership
b) Employment in co-operatives
c) Co-operative economic activity
INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE ENTITIES
All co-operatives remain people-centred organisations that are owned, controlled and used by their members to benefit members. Co-operatives generally follow the seven co-operative principles shown in figure 2 at the start of this article.
In Australia, a co-operative is an entity based on sharing, democracy and delegation for the benefit of all its members. A general co-operative, in a legal sense, can be currently defined as “... any organisation that is incorporated as a co-operative under state or territory legislation”.<Endnote 3> However, from 2012, the incoming Co-operatives National Law will replace the separate state and territory legislation with a single national law.
Similarly, international co-operatives are business enterprises where ownership, control and benefits remain in the hands of the co-operative members, <Endnote 4> although the legal entities can vary from country to country.<Endnote 5>