Aboriginal businesses get the edge

5 April 2016

Aboriginal business people collaborating

Fifty-two Aboriginal business owners around NSW are now ready to tender for government contracts potentially worth millions of dollars, thanks to cross-government assistance to help them navigate the process.

The Aboriginal Procurement Project was recently delivered by the NSW Department of Industry in partnership with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, NSW Aboriginal Affairs, Roads & Maritime Services and Ballina to Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Project consortium, Pacific Complete, to Aboriginal businesses around NSW.

It involved a series of joint workshops followed by one-on-one mentoring to help Aboriginal businesses better understand the procurement process and be in a stronger position to win local, state and federal government work contracts collectively worth over $60 billion.

Working together

The Aboriginal Procurement Project, led by the Australian Government, is an example of federal, state and local government agencies and private enterprise working together to deliver positive outcomes for Aboriginal businesses in NSW.

Government wants all businesses to be in a strong position to tender for government contracts, particularly in regional areas where local Aboriginal businesses are big employers in their local communities.

Part of this is just knowing how the process works and what is required. The extensive documentation required can be off-putting and without the training, can dissuade some very capable businesses from applying.

Case studies

Warialda Engineering and Welding

Mick Davis, Director of Warialda Engineering and Welding, which employs 18 Warialda locals in the Northern Tablelands, recently took part in the workshops and mentoring sessions.

“Doing the workshops gave us a better understanding of where we needed to be to acquire government contracts and it also gave us the confidence to apply for multiple government contracts across the whole project,” he said.

“It really opened up the direction our company can go in and allowed us to see beyond a single opportunity. Having the know-how will now help us to search for a whole range of opportunities close to home.

“If we can gain large contracts, we can expand our business, which is great news for our town,” Mr Davis said.

Masters Entourage Security Solutions

Rick Nelson, Director of Sydney and Coffs Harbour-based security firm, Masters Entourage, which employs approximately 50 mostly Aboriginal staff around the state, said the best aspects of the workshops was getting a clear understanding of the procedure (required to apply for government contracts) as well as the networking opportunities they offered.

“We are determined to make a big impact in the security industry with Indigenous staff and one of the biggest things we took away was greater confidence to go forward with our plans to expand our business,” he said.

Supporting Aboriginal businesses

“The Aboriginal Procurement Project is a great way to take Aboriginal businesses through the process of tendering for government contracts and we are confident it will succeed in lifting the participation rate of Aboriginal companies in this area,” said Roxanne Smith, Aboriginal Business Development Manager at the NSW Department of Industry.

The Department of Industry’s Business Development Managers in each of the 13 regional offices can assist Aboriginal people in establishing, maintaining and growing a business.

The Department of Industry’s commitment to the Aboriginal Business Directory has also helped to promote Aboriginal businesses and given those looking to do business with Aboriginal businesses access to information and contact details. Through its Indigenous Procurement Policy the Australian Government has set a target for 3% of its contracts each year to be with Indigenous enterprises by 2020.