NENA was launched as an informal network in October 2017 and was legally incorporated as a cooperative in January 2019.
The events leading up to the creation of NENA began in late 2015. In November 2015, Professor Bronwen Morgan (UNSW) and Dr Michelle Maloney (Australian Earth Laws Alliance) began planning a new economy conference for Sydney, in August 2016. The Conference was titled 'Building the New Economy: Activism, Enterprise and Social Change'. In the lead up to the event, and in sessions on the second day of the conference, work was done to begin a conversation about creating a new economy coalition or network in Australia. At the conclusion of the 2016 Conference, the participants (around 130 people) unanimously agreed that they would continue the work started at the 2016 conference; create working groups around themes and issues relevant to the broader new economy movement and meet again in 2017, to launch a network or group that would strengthen and support the new economy.
At the October 2017 Conference in Brisbane, the New Economy Network Australia (NENA) - was officially launched, auspiced by the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA). During the following 12 months, NENA's Volunteer Coordinating Hub helped facilitate more than 12 working groups, including a Governance Development Working Group, which spent more than 8 months researching and developing options for NENA’s structure. The Governance Development Working Group consulted with all interested people on the NENA email list and developed a draft Constitution in late 2018, which was revised and finalised by the end of 2018. The Founding Steering Group became the first Directors when NENA was incorporated as a legal entity (a non-distributing/not-for-profit cooperative).
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