Collaboration is key: SEWF Community Hub spotlight on GSEC + GELLEN

by Mirabelle Morah / June 2022

“Collaboration is key – connect with local people & organisations with similar goals, values and interests and then work together to develop a unique event that reflects what is relevant to your local context”. – Amélie Boucher

With the SEWF Community Hub model, social enterprises and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to engage with SEWF22 programme content, network with peers and experts, share ideas and opportunities with each other locally.


  • In 2021, GSEC + GELLEN (Gippsland Social Enterprise Collective + Gippsland East Local Learning & Employment Network) hosted a hybrid Community Hub in Bairnsdale, Australia. 
  • In this interview, we caught up with Jes John (Finance & Media Manager, GELLEN), Andrea Lane (Community Engagement Facilitator, Gippsland Community Power Hub) and Amélie Boucher (Project Manager, GELLEN). 
  • They took us through their experiences hosting a Community Hub in 2021 and gave advice to new SEWF Community Hubs.

Images from GSEC and FLOAT

Images from GSEC and FLOAT

In one sentence how would you describe your overall SEWF 2021 experience?

Jes: I found the whole conference so inspiring. Seeing so many like-minded people, global organisations and businesses dedicating their time & knowledge to attend SEWF and connect with others was very impressive. There was such a wealth of experience available to draw on, relate to and in our case with hosting a Community Hub, there were a lot of new local connections being made between various proponents of social enterprise.

Andrea: I believe that through SEWF we forged a partnership – a team – that has changed the path and pace of social enterprise momentum in Gippsland. What GSEC had lacked in capacity (during an exhausting pandemic), we found through the focus of a shared goal, delivered in partnership with a great youth-focused organisation whose attention to social enterprise had been growing for some time. GELLEN brought energy, skills, rigour, resources and excitement to a region that has been searching for solutions and action

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Why did you choose to host a Community Hub? (Your initial hopes and expectations)

Jes & Amélie: Our intention to host a Community Hub was of dual purpose: to facilitate a welcoming space where rural-based locals could access up-to-date and applicable information about the social enterprise industry, as well as to provide a space for local and emerging leaders within the social enterprise sector to connect, collaborate, share their stories and be inspired. We aimed high and we decided earlier on that we would host an event no matter what the format would be and that we would adjust to the government’s health regulations at the time. We ended up deciding to host a hybrid event, due to the limits imposed on indoor gatherings to 20 people.

Images from FLOAT
Images from FLOAT

What was the impact of hosting your Community Hub? (Did you achieve these hopes?)

Amélie Boucher: The SEWF Community Hub hybrid event held at the Hub in Bairnsdale was a fantastic opportunity to get together in a time of uncertainty, to hear the journey and stories of local social enterprise pioneers, emerging social entrepreneurs and to share some wholesome food over great conversation. What was achieved? We dared greatly, attempting to and successfully hosting a collaborative, live, hybrid event with a range of face-to-face and online presenters. 

42 people attended in total (20 face-to-face and 12 online) from a broad age range and geographical demographic. Some travelled as far as 230kms to attend the event in person and we had participants online from Melbourne to Brisbane. We listened deeply to each other’s inspiring stories, made new connections and started conversations about potential future collaborations and opportunities to strengthen unique local employment pathways. 

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Got any advice or top hosting tip for anyone who wants to host a Community Hub in 2022?

 “Collaboration is key – connect with local people & organisations with similar goals, values and interests and then work together to develop a unique event that reflects what is relevant to your local context”. – Amélie  

Amélie: We couldn’t have pulled off this event if it wasn’t for the support of the amazing team of people who rallied behind the idea to make it happen! As for tips for hosting hybrid events, the best advice is to run practice runs ⏤ at least 2!

Andrea: Yes! 

For the latest update on Gippsland Social Enterprise Collective, follow their Facebook page Gippsland Social Enterprise Collective.

You can see more information below on the social enterprises, programmes and organisations that were part of the SEWF 2021 GSEC + GELLEN Community Hub in Bairnsdale, Australia.

Mirabelle Morah is the community and communications manager at SEWF