The Co-operative Financials and Governance for Accountants and Lawyers Program has been designed to equip practitioners with the knowledge to advise clients on setting up and running effective co-operative businesses.
Developed by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) and Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CA ANZ), the course will provide practitioners with insights into financial reporting for co-operatives, co-operative capital raising instruments, and legislation and tax settings governing co-operatives.
The online course, worth 4.5 CPD points, comes after a 2016 Senate report into co-operative, mutual and member-owned firms recommended accountants and legal practitioners demonstrate “knowledge of the co-operative and mutual structure” to address a perceived gap in the market.
It has been created through the $2.5 million government funded Co-operative Farming program, in response to a demand from the agricultural sector.
Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the course was something rural and regional Australia sorely needed.
“Australia’s lawyers and accountants are currently graduating without spending any time on this type of business model,” said Mr Littleproud.
“That means our farmers are missing out on the opportunity to consider if a co-operative could be the right option for them because their local accountant simply doesn’t know about them.
“It is vitally important to educate accountants and lawyers servicing our farmers about business models that could deliver improved economic outcomes and, more broadly, improve the sustainability of their communities.”
The course, held over a series of three sessions kicking off on 17 August — will be facilitated by Henry Botha, principal of Higgins Botha, and will be presented by Kevin Franey and Mark Ellem, both partners at TNR Chartered Accountants, and Katie Innes of BAL Lawyers.
“Our practice has been working with large and small co-operatives for the past 100 years, with clients in the agriculture and processing sectors,” Mr Franey said.
“The opportunity to share our expertise with accountants and lawyers around Australia is genuinely exciting, and this course is designed to truly benefit professionals like us, or those who want to upskill in this area.”