Indigenous Procurement Policies (IPP) have been implemented around Australia at both state and federal levels and present a valuable opportunity for organisations in the Community Services Industry to grow their businesses.

As of 2019, the Commonwealth IPP aims to grow employment and training opportunities for Indigenous Australians by setting contract targets, as well as Mandatory Set-Aside (MSA) of some contracts for Indigenous businesses.

To help us better understand how to utilise IPPs in the Community Services Industry, we spoke with Murawin Indigenous consultancy firm Managing Director Carol Vale. Ms Vale is a member of Supply Nation’s 2019 Indigenous Business Advisory Group.

“The Indigenous Procurement Policy brings an opportunity for Industry, government agencies and corporates to look at their supply chain and identify where they can provide opportunities for Indigenous businesses,” Ms Vale said.

“There’s a concerted effort by government in implementing these policies, and so the government spend is targeting 3% at the Commonwealth level across the majority of their contracts.”

“Contracts between $80,000-200,000 have to go to the Indigenous market before they go out into the open market, so there are some really good opportunities there,” Ms Vale said.

Organisations operating in remote areas stand to benefit even more, with Mandatory Set-Asides (MSA) ensuring that contracts are awarded to an Indigenous business, where one exists.

Ms Vale said it was a good time for Indigenous Australians to be in business, with state and federal procurement policies now being complemented by the Business Council of Australia’s Raising the Bar framework, which sees some of Australia’s largest corporations matching many of the government’s procurement targets.

“[Raising the Bar] is implementing a barriers-based target, so they have a Procurement Policy that’s 3% and they also have values target.”

Why should the Community Services Industry engage in IPP?

IPP presents a number of excellent opportunities for community services providers who are majority Indigenous-owned. Not only can they access contracts that are specifically targeted at growing their businesses, they can also further build their connections within Industry and government.

Carol Vale emphasises the importance of building these connections for the ongoing, sustainable success of organisations.

“There are so many [opportunities] out there; Supply Nation and then most states have an Indigenous chamber of commerce, Queensland certainly has an active one in the south-east,” explained Ms Vale.  

“Supply Nation also hosts Connect once a year, usually in Sydney, where over 1,000 Indigenous businesses are on show and member organisations go there and make connections to build relationships.”

How your organisation can access Indigenous Procurement opportunities

The simplest way for organisations to leverage opportunities arising from the IPP is to register with Supply Nation, the biggest national database of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.

Supply Nation gives Indigenous businesses the chance to access dedicated funding, as well as being an accessible mechanism to apply for government contracts before they reach the open market.

Developed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in consultation with Indigenous business leaders, Supply Nation aims to help First Nations organisations engage, create relationships and do more business.

Grow your organisation’s opportunities with First Nations procurement

The Indigenous Procurement Policies can help organisations do business better and advance the Community Services Industry by accelerating their growth in a targeted way.

As Carol Vale said, Indigenous-owned businesses are ideally positioned to develop solutions that are fit for purpose and meet the unique needs of Indigenous communities.

“Business is about solving problems. If you think about all the issues in Indigenous communities, and Aboriginal people being well-placed to develop solutions to those problems, it makes a great business model,” Ms Vale said. 

Taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the IPP allows businesses to leverage their unique knowledge and experiences, and better empowers them to give back to their communities.