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Learning for Purpose is an independent, non-partisan, national initiative to research and realise capability development in the Australian Not-for-Profit Sector.

We seek to systematically understand and improve the means through which individuals and organisations gain and sustain the knowledge, skills, and abilities for a better world.

The initiative is led by the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia Business School in collaboration with the not-for-profit sector, social enterprises, universities, government partners, industry and philanthropists.

  • understand how Not-for-Profit organisations and their people can achieve their full potential for more impact

  • improve knowledge, skills, and abilities for organisations, people, and the purpose they serve.

  • raise awareness about fundamental challenges and advocate for the Not-for-Profit workforce

Dr Ramon Wenzel, Director Learning for Purpose

Ramon Wenzel, Ph.D., is the Director of the Learning for Purpose initiative seeking to research and realise Not-for-Profit workforce development. He is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Social Impact and Business School of The University of Western Australia.

Ramon draws on human psychology and organisational management to improve the effectiveness, evaluation, re/design and transfer of all forms of formal and informal work learning including training, leadership development, and action learning. 

Ramon spearheads a national team comprising a wealth of expertise, experience, networks, and dedication.

Prof Paul Flatau
Prof Paul FlatauDirector Centre for Social Impact, UWA
Paul actively engages in policy and industry discussions to build knowledge and debate around important issues in a variety of domains. He works with not-for-profit [..]
organisations, social enterprises, government partners and with industry and philanthropists complementing his significant commitment to a strong community engagement program. He has well over 100 publications including 70 refereed publications.

Professor Paul Flatau is the Chair in Social Investment and Impact and Director of the Centre for Social Impact at the UWA Business School. Over the last four years as Director of the CSI UWA, he has established an extensive program of public lectures, workshops, breakfasts and conferences that have brought the University to the WA and Australian corporate, NFP and government sectors.

Paul has made significant contributions to the analysis of social and economic outcomes and the effectiveness of programs and interventions across a wide range of domains including Indigenous affairs, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and housing. He is an editor of the Australian Journal of Labour Economics, having previously been the Managing Editor of the journal and the Director of the UWA Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

He has widespread teaching experience across all areas and levels in economics and social policy. He presently coordinates the Social Impact: Entrepreneurs and Social Innovation and Demonstrating Social Impact units in the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and has taught Ethical Dimensions of Organisations, Management and Leadership in the MBA.

Paul has widespread teaching experience across all domains in economics, have developed and taught units in the management and social and public policy fields and most recently implemented the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact.

Prof Sharon Parker
Prof Sharon ParkerDirector Centre for Transformative Work Design, UWA
Sharon’s research focuses on job and work design, proactive behavior, change, well-being, development, and job performance. Sharon is an Australian Research Council [..]
Laureate Fellow, a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the UWA Business School, University of Western Australia and an Honorary Professor at the University of Sheffield. She is a recipient of the ARC’s Kathleen Fitzpatrick Award, and the 2016 Academy of Management OB Division Mentoring Award.

She has published more than 80 internationally refereed articles, including in top tier journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and the Annual Review of Psychology.

Sharon is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a Fellow of the US Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology. Sharon is an Associate Editor for the Academy of Management Annals, a past Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology, and she has served on numerous editorial boards.

Sharon has attracted competitive research funding worth over $13,000,000, and has worked as a researcher and consultant in a wide range of public and private organizations. She is currently the Chair of the UWA Academic Promotion Committee.

Prof Karin Sanders
Prof Karin SandersHead of School of Management, UNSW
​Karin’s researches the impact of Human Resource Management processes and practices on employees’ on their attitudes and behaviours, such as their work learning [..]
and development activities. Karin published in journals like Academy of Management Learning & Education, Organization Studies, Human Resource Management, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Group & Organization Management, International Journal of HRM, and Human Resource Management Journal.​

Karin Sanders is Professor Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at the UNSW Australia Business School, Sydney, and where she is also director of the Centre of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Dr Timothy Bednall
Dr Timothy BednallSenior Lecturer, Management, Swinburne University
Tim’s research relates to employee learning and expertise, including expertise and complex skill development, innovation, and advancing research methods. He is [..]
the national Chair of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists.

Tim is a registered psychologist, with an area of practice endorsement in organisational psychology.

Dr Timothy Colin Bednall joined the Department of Management and Marketing as a lecturer in management in February 2014. He previously worked at the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales. He has also worked in industry for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Chandler Macleod.


The Learning for Purpose initiative was created because everyone in Australia benefits from those 600,000 Not-for-Profit organisations that address social disadvantage, education, well-being, community cohesion, sports, biodiversity, artistic creation, cultural heritage, and more.

Meanwhile, public reforms, growing demand, and increased competition require Not-for-Profit organisations and their employees and volunteers to innovate and adapt to deliver greater impact.

Since 2012 the Learning for Purpose initiative embraces this reality by taking a long term and evidence-based approach to inform and empower all stakeholders so they can reach their full potential for an even better Australia.

On the basis of systematic applied science, we argue that the way forward is not about making people work harder, but let them and their work become smarter. Our ultimate aim is to identify, share, and help implement the most effective means for growing Not-for-Profit people, organisations, and their impact.

Productivity Commission Report
Pilot Study
Origin Foundation Funding
Report on Social Return on Education and Training
Continued Research Funding
Action Learning for Purpose
Not-for-Profit Workforce Study

Productivity Commission Report

2010 | The Australian Productivity Commission released its report on the "Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector". It is found that the Australian Not-for-Profit sector is large, diverse, and socially and economically significant. The wider understanding of the sector's role and contribution is considered "poor and deserves attention". The report highlights "increasing workforce pressures" and the "need to strengthen the capacity" and to "address future workforce needs".

Pilot Study

2013 | A pilot study is developed with the Australian Scholarships Foundation to systematically examine professional development offerings relevant for the Not-for-Profit sector and test pre- and post-training levels of key competencies and confidence, among other measures.

Origin Foundation Funding

2014 | Origin Foundation commits to and generously supports a program of ground breaking research on the Social Return on Education and Training in the Australian Not-for-Profit-Sector.

Report on Social Return on Education and Training

2015 | The landmark report on the Social Return on Education and Training studies is released. It is the first systematic examination of opportunities and challenges relating to the professional development of the Australian Not-for-Profit workforce.

Continued Research Funding

2015 | The Australian Research Council partially funds the continuation of the Learning for Purpose research agenda until 2018 through a Linkage Grant that involves EY and the Australian Scholarships Foundation. Australian Executor Trustees give further support to the Australian Not-for-Profit Workforce Study.

Action Learning for Purpose

2016 | The first Australian Action Learning Program for the Not-for-Profit sector is developed and offered for free through the proud support of BHP Billiton and in collaboration with WACOSS. Two cohorts comprising 25 Not-for-Profit experience accelerated individual-organisational development to realise a challenge for greater impact.

Not-for-Profit Workforce Study

2017 | The Australian Not-for-Profit Workforce Study is underway. It is the largest ever research study on and for all levels of Not-for-Profit employees and volunteers. It is designed to share freely the most effective means for making Not-for-Profit work more developmental, healthy, meaningful, and productive.


We are all in this together. The Learning for Purpose initiative is made possible by its extraordinary partners which provide financial and intellectual support to specific activities. All partners share the vision to inform practice, policy, and theory about maximising the not-for-profit sector capability so it can better realise community objectives and bring positive change.

Join us in helping others make Australia even better and get involved.