Find Civil Society expertise in Australia

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) constitute a large proportion of Australia’s organisations. With differing laws in each territory Australia also has multiple memberships with global organisations. In addition, the 85-year-old Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) was formed by other revolutionary and activist trade unions.

Australia has over 300,000 non-governmental, non-profit organisations. Many charitable non-profit organisations operate in the areas of social services, health, education and the environment. NGOs and CSOs are highly influential in the area of health. Organisations such as the Heart Foundation and The Cancer Council Australia play major roles in promoting scientific research and healthy lifestyles, and influencing government policy. Various environmental international and local NGOs operate in the country. These include Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Australia’s leading environmental NGO; the Climate Action Network of Australia (CANA), a coalition of more than 360 NGOs and CSOs; and the Wilderness Society of Australia, an NGO which works to protect, promote and restore wilderness and natural processes across Australia. There are almost 40 international NGOs in Australia which are accredited by AusAID. These NGOs include Oxfam, Save the Children and Plan International.

There are various laws governing the institution of non-profit organisations, particularly relating to issues regarding funding and tax. Legislation slightly differs from one state or territory to another.

Formed in 1927, the largest trade union, ACTU accommodates 45 affiliated unions. It was established by extremist and revolutionary trade unions to avoid forming one dominant union. Australia hosts the 120-year-old Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and also the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the main trade union in construction, forestry and forest products, mining and energy production.