Democracy works best when people step up and speak out.

So it is a problem that on many of the big issues Australians lack ways to get involved to match their interests, identity, demographics and commitment.

We need a new generation of nimble, courageous movements to tackle social welfare issues at the community and national level- and to do so innovative ways.



Progress Labs is Australia’s dedicated social movement incubator.

A partnership between Australian Progress and the Australian Council of Social Service, we will support 6-12 new initiatives per year in 2018 and 2019.

This means powerful and compelling new organisations engaging hundreds of thousands of Australians, and building fairer and more forward-looking Australia.




How we help


Strengthen your pitch and get connected with a who’s who of relevant funders and allies across philanthropy, civil society and social business.


We’ll help as needed with legal and accounting, so you can focus on campaigning and fundraising.


A space for you or your team in our fun and central co-working space in Melbourne or Sydney.


Hone your plan through 8 days of strategy development, training, team-building and business planning.


Be paired with an outstanding creative agency (pro-bono), who can lend strategic advice, kickstart your brand identity, and help with early campaigns.


Join a powerful network to share learning, collaborate around joint priorities, and leverage resources.




We’re thrilled to announce the inaugural cohort for Progress Labs 2018. It’s a group of much needed projects, driven by dynamic and experienced leaders, including:

Tim Lo Surdo | Democracy in Colour

Democracy in Colour is Australia’s first national racial justice advocacy organisation led by people of colour. They run campaigns to tackle structural racism; hold political, cultural and corporate leaders to account on the things they say and do on race; and strengthen the political voice of people of colour.

Jason Ball and James Lolicato | Pride Cup

The Pride Cup is building local advocates for LGBTI inclusion in sport. The Cup utilises the power of local football clubs to bring together disparate regional communities to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion for LGBTI people. The centrepiece of a Pride Cup is a local football match themed around LGBTI inclusion – creating ripple effects throughout local communities.

Meagan Lawson and Corey Irlam | The 1 in 4 project

Seniors may not be a single homogenous movement, but their sheer diversity and size provides an unrivalled opportunity to influence policy outcomes through activation across the electoral cycle including at elections. In addition to an online community, the 1 in 4 project will develop train, support and deploy a team of ‘MP Liaisons’ to maximise the effectiveness of the project’s online community of dialogue and action.

Karrina Nolan | Original Power

We need a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led organisation that can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be more effective change makers in communities. Specifically, we need an organisation that can help resource communities, campaigns and networks focused on fossil fuel extraction, mining and the impacts of climate change. Original Power aims to build the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, increase the effectiveness of our campaigns and develop stronger ideas and networks for self-determined solutions.

Joel Dignam | Comfy Homes

There are more renters in Australia than ever before. Many of these people will rent for the rest of their lives – an entirely new idea. They will raise families and grow old without ever living in a house they own. However, the current emphasis is always on the property rights of landlords instead of the right to a dignified home for renting families. Comfy Homes is trying to achieve reform in Australia so that renters can have dignified, secure, long-term affordable accommodation. Chair, Joel Dignam, says: “I think renters need to be a constituency able to counter the power of landlords and the real estate institute.”

Vanessa Gonzalez, Matt Howard and Juliette Meaney | Rainbow Families

Rainbow Families exists to provide its community of LGBTQI families with access to relevant community programs, opportunities for social connection, advocacy support and educational opportunities. They strive to ensure that the voice of their community is represented, heard and actioned by tackling social issues important to our community head on, with bravery, pride and respect. Rainbow Families also strives to ensure the LGBTQI community has access to the resources, information, education and support needed to ensure resilient, loving, vibrant families.

Owen Bennett and Jeremy Poxon | Australian Unemployed Workers Union

The Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) provides individual support for unemployed people who have difficulty navigating the increasingly complex and punitive welfare system. They run a phone and email support service, specifically tailored to helping unemployed workers and welfare recipients receive their entitlements and understand their rights. The AUWU also run various advocacy campaigns in order to amplify the voices of unemployed people and put pressure on members of parliament to start representing their interests and concerns.


Yes, please send me the short application form with info on how to apply!

Keep me in the loop about Australian Progress

Frequently Asked Questions

Energetic social leaders with a vision to create a movement to engage and mobilise Australians around an cause or identity. You can be any age, but you've almost certainly some previous experience running or working on a social cause. You're ready to jump into any task, resilient to setbacks, and low on ego.
We are very open-minded and keen to learn about new areas that need more citizen action to promote social welfare. That said we'd be especially excited to hear from you if your project seeks to address economic disadvantage or engages Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians or culturally diverse communities.
Yes, we have a bias for founders who have already got some runs on the board - an early test campaign, fundraising success etc. We also expect some applicants will represent existing organisations keen to revisit their strategy & communications, and re-launch.
We believe it is easier to raise funds than to identify amazing, driven leaders. Therefore, even if you have no funds we encourage you to apply. If you're selected, it's because we hope and believe seed funds to support you to do your work can be found, somewhere. Progress Labs is a staged progress. In the first month, we'll help you hone your pitch and expose you to funders and potential supporters. Our goal (indeed it's one way we measure our own success) is to secure you the support you need (e.g. living costs, other expenses to around $30,000) to focus on your participation in the Labs. Of course, if you have loads of funding already, that's also great and you can benefit from all the other aspects of the program.
Progress Labs will be based in Sydney or Melbourne, depending in part on the nature/preference of the majority of accepted applicants each round. If we select applicants from both cities, travel support will be provided where required for participants to attend joint program elements in the other city. Applicants are welcome from elsewhere in Australia but you must be willing to move to Melbourne or Sydney for the program at your own (or your project's) cost.
The cost of Progress Labs itself is covered by philanthropic partners, so there is generally no cost to participants. This said, before accepting applicants with very significant existing funding (like, hundreds of thousands of dollars+), we may seek to broker a reasonable agreement to recover some costs, which we can then use to expand the number of less well-funded groups taking part.
Progress Labs is an initiative of two national non-profit organisations, Australian Progress and ACOSS. Australian Progress is a national organisation dedicated to building the advocacy capacity of Australian civil society. We also run Australia's largest advocacy training program (Progress Fellowship) and key civil society conferences such as Progress, FWD and Leadership. ACOSS is the national advocate for action to reduce poverty and inequality and the peak body for the community services sector in Australia. Progress Labs is funded by Donkey Wheel Ltd and Vasudhara Foundation as well as a crowd of 120+ wonderful smaller donors. If you'd like to help with funding, get in touch!
If you have a concrete idea for, and want to run, a new social movement organisation or major campaign - Progress Labs is for you! If on the other hand, you work with an existing campaign or organisation and are looking to build your skills and network with others - you're better suited to join our awesome Fellowship.
We'd absolutely love to hear from you. Please email


Here's a few organisations Australian Progress previously helped get off the ground. We're excited to be expanding this community as part of the new Progress Labs program 

Common Grace


Common Grace is a movement of over 19,000 Australian Christians who are passionate about social justice.

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Fair Agenda


Fair Agenda is a movement of 35,000 Australians campaigning for a fair and equal future for women.

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The Parenthood


A community of mums and dads working together to create positive change for kids.

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When it happens next

Applications for the second round of Progress Labs (which commences in July 2018) will open during April.