Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


6000 level

Course handbook


The course examines how both the labour supported and Rochdale co-operative movements developed in Australia, in line with other western countries, especially the UK, as a strategy of the working class in the 19th century in response to the cyclical nature of capitalism¿s impact on living standards. It examines how the emergence of Australia¿s unique form of capitalism post 1901 was the point of departure for other actors to represent working people and to influence the emergence and degeneration of co-operatives in waves of experimentation.

The course is divided into a series of eras in which different actors influence the formation, degeneration and revival of the co-operative model. Each era will feature a case study.


Not currently offered.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Identify the key features of the Australian Statist Model and its impact on co-operative formation

2. Describe the waves of co-operative formation in Australia

3. Demonstrate specialised knowledge of the relationship between the structural changes in capitalism and co-operative formation

4. Critically evaluate the role of co-operative federations in co-operative growth and survival

5. Demonstrate an advanced and integrated understanding of the struggle to achieve uniform co-operative law and its impact on the future potential of co-operatives


The topics in this course include the following:

  1. 1788-1893 - From penal colony to an unregulated labour market and the Great Strikes of 1890-1894.
  2. 1860-1923 - The Era of the Labour Movement and Co-operatives - a significant social experiment.
  3. 1893-1898 -The Australian Co-operative Commonwealth in Paraguay - a review of its significance.
  4. 1901 - Formation of the Australian Commonwealth and the implications for co-operatives.
  5. 1856-1944- The Rochdale consumer movement peaks and begins to decline.
  6. 1880-2015 - Agricultural Co-operatives rise and lose their way.
  7. 1941-2015 Credit Unions and Building Societies become an Australian success story.
  8. Leisure co-operatives: the institutionalization of gambling and the growth of large leisure organizations in New South Wales.
  9. 1944-2015 - Fletcher Jones and Staff and the ongoing experimentation with worker co-operatives.
  10. 1980-2015 - Demutualisation and the threat to co-operation - Wesfarmers.
  11. 1950s-2015 - Indigenous Credit Union in Northern Territory - closing the gap.
  12. 2012-2015 - Unity at last - uniform national co-operative law and the formation of the national Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals.

Assessment items

Online Learning Activity: Online assessment activities

In Term Test: Mid trimester exam

Written Assignment: Major written assignment