888 Co-operative Causeway (the first co-operative co-working space in Victoria) and RMIT FORWARD (The RMIT Centre for Future Skills and Workforce Transformation) have been working on areas relating to freelancing work, wellbeing, and connection for people in mid-career (via bursaries awarded to Julie Kun and Robyn Evans).
As a freelancer you can experience real benefits such as pursuing your passions, establishing your own business, and enjoying autonomy. However, freelancers can also face challenges, such as unpredictability in workload, potential payment delays from clients, and the need to independently manage tax, superannuation, and costly insurance responsibilities. Furthermore, while the shift into freelancing offers flexibility, it can lack consistent protections, partcularly for some new entrants. This underscores the necessity for mutual support and strong professional networks.
Freelancers are here to stay so how can we co-create a better future?
With this in mind, Antony McMullen, 888 chair, and Pete Cohen from RMIT FORWARD (who are both seasoned freelancers) have established a network to provide:
- Peer support and connection: freelancing can sometimes be isolating – through the co-operative, members will be able to find not just work-related support, but also build lasting personal connections
- Collaboration opportunities: the co-operative won’t just provide emotional and logistical support – it will also serve as a platform where freelancers can team up, pooling their diverse skills for larger projects
- Support in the tough times: whether it’s a delayed payment or the absence of insurance, we are here to help freelancers navigate these challenges – the co-operative will establish a mutual hardship fund (in development)
- Group buying: the co-operative will prioritise ethical, member-based social enterprises to give freelancers access to resources and services at a collective scale (in development).
888 Co-operative Causeway is supporting this new co-operative network to establish.
What happens now?
Just say yes! You will then be given access to a Discourse forum where we are sharing information and fostering conversations.
The Freelancers Society will be running in a pilot mode for a few months until about Jan-Feb 2024, during which time there will be no membership subs payable. We’ll use that time to refine the value proposition and build up engagement with the community. We will also explore different levels of membership fees to hone in on what feels like the right balance. Then we vote with our feet – either enough people see the value and get on board as paid members, or we cease the experiment, or potentially pivot it to try a different approach.
Additionally, if you are a freelancer looking for a Melbourne HQ you could consider 888 Collaborator membership.