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For people involved in getting or keeping a group going, here is a list of new and updated resources to add to the information in our book 'In The Same Boat'. 

Quick Links

Starting A Group
Running A Group
Managing Money And Minimising Expenses
Insurance And Incorporation
GST and Self Help Groups
Ethical Spending
Other Useful Sites and Resources

Starting A Group

COSHG has lots of useful information on starting a group as well as running workshops for people who are starting Self Help Groups or the issues that you need to deal with during the life of a group. If you don't already have a copy In The Same Boat could be a good starting point. COSHG is currently working on a new edition to update current information and to include additional chapters.

    There's another useful Kit on starting and maintaining groups that can be found on the Department of Health and Ageing website. Go to The_Kit publication page and then you can choose to view the online version or the PDF printable version which is 275 pages in total. You can print off the section you want. It was produced as an initiative of the National Mental Health Strategy. Although produced for Mental Health groups/consumers, it is useful for any self help group.
    Another good site for information on starting a group is Self Help Resource Centre (Canada)
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Running A Group

  • pt'chang nonviolent community safety group  is no longer active but continues to have a website where you can download useful information:
  • VCOSS Publications: - Community Employment Handbook,   Managing Money Legalities Victoria  booklets:- Incorporation and other booklets from VCOSS Victorian Council of Social Service 9654 5050.
  • News sheets - If you want to know about what you can publish and about getting permission, see
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Managing Money and Minimising Expenses

Credit Co-ops such as Fitzroy & Carlton Community Credit Co-operative  9419 4533 and Macaulay Credit Co-operative 9372 1718 have a range of services for community groups.
Various books are available from bookshops or libraries about book keeping etc for community organizations

  • Good Shepherd Buying Service For pension & health care card holders & various community groups . Ring & save - For greater buying power and lower prices on household goods and asthma appliances contact 9417 4666 Mon to Fri 10am to 4 pm. General information is available on brands to buy, energy efficiency, warranties on refrigerators, washing machines, furniture, bedding, televisions, other electricals, and asthma pumps. The Buying Service is not a retail outlet. It is a Telephone Service Only. There is no obligation to buy. How to use the Buying Service:

    • Shop around and choose a product with the features you need.
    • Ring the Good Shepherd Buying Service with the Brand & Model Number.
    • The Buying Service will obtain the lowest possible price on the product.
    • Stores can arrange delivery if requested.

  • Phone rental reductions for Charitable and Non-Profit Organisations -
    You may be able to obtain a reduced phone rental from Telstra. The details below should only be taken as indicative as Telstra decides.

Charitable Organisation means an organisation that is endorsed by the Commissioner of Taxation as a deductible gift recipient under Subdivision 30-BA by reason of being a public benevolent institution under item 4.1.1 of the table in section 30-45 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Current monthly line rental charge for Charitable Organisation is $12.41.

Non-Profit Organisation means a customer who:

  • carries on activities other than for profit; and
  • except as provided below, is not a Government department, authority, business or agency; and includes:
  • Government and non-Government schools, pre-schools, kindergartens and child care centres;
  • sporting, social, cultural and community clubs and groups that are operated
    substantially by their members, players, or players' or members' parents;
  • bulletin board services, which do not operate for profit. Current monthly line rental charge for Non-profit organisation is $19.50.
  • Postage - If you are sending out more than 100 news sheets at a time (or 50 for your local office), you can register for Print Post. This used to give you significant savings on postage costs, but no longer does. May be worth checking out if you have a lot of local mail. You can get a form from a Post Office.  Charity Post is another option for lots of 300 bar-coded letters.
  • Exemption from BAD tax - may be available for your group. Contact your bank or credit co-op.
  • Water Rebate Scheme - State Revenue Office P O Box 2752Y, Melb 3001 Fax 9628 6625 For buildings used mostly for community activities.
  • LETS - Local Exchange Trading System. It is a way of exchanging goods and services without money. Instead of making a direct swap with an individual, you earn points which you can then use to get goods and services from other LETS members. (See COSHG directory)
    More about LETS
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Insurance and Incorporation

  • Insurance - Groups may decide to get public liability insurance and personal accident cover for unpaid workers (volunteers). Some groups also need other insurance, such as fire and theft or professional indemnity. Available from Overton Insurance (contact Geoff Clinnick 03 9375 3355) and other companies. 
  • Public liability insurance - The Municipal Association of Victoria has a scheme for non profit groups. See Also Community Care is a joint venture by a number of Insurance companies to provide Public Liability Insurance to non-profit groups. They have just extended their cover to Victoria.
  • Incorporation - Info including forms and models rules that you can download is available from  Or you can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 361 673. COSHG has some examples of different ways of incorporating, including easy to read and understand versions.
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GST & self help groups

Details of how GST impacts on self help groups and the choices you can make.

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Ethical spending

For most groups there will be some businesses which make money from products or activities which contribute to the problem the group is addressing. This may influence the group's spending. Some groups decide to boycott companies which make dangerous or unhealthy products, use sexist advertising, damage the environment, breach human rights, etc.

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Recycled copy paper - Try Friends of the Earth where there is a downloadable "Good Paper Guide", or Borderlands. Brands to look for are Cannon 100, Nautilus, Steinbeis, Botany Offset. Second preferences Biotop (available from Danka), Lasercopy Premium (Blue Wrap), Data copy (Mo Do), Envirocopy. Printing paper - Cyclus.

Scrap has a useful chart of different products.


Details of some options for obtaining grants can be found on the page linked above.


Places where self help groups may be able to get free & low cost computers, software and other computer related information.


Borderlands 2 Minona St, Hawthorn
Grasslands Footscray 9362 0830
Ross House 247 Flinders  Lane 9650 1599
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre 12 Batman Street West Melbourne 9326 6066

Other Useful Contacts and Resources

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