Western Australia’s Aboriginal Procurement Policy has exceeded its own set targets for the fourth year in a row, seeing 356 contracts awarded to 167 Aboriginal businesses during the 2022-2023 financial year.
According to new figures released by the State Government, the overall value of contracts awarded totals more than $254 million, which represents 6.86 per cent of all government contracts – sitting at almost double the 3.5 per cent target for this year.
The Aboriginal Procurement Policy was launched in 2018 with the aim of increasing contracting opportunities for Aboriginal businesses working with state government agencies, promoting employment and business opportunities.
Since its inception, the number of contracts awarded has steadily increased from 179, while the number of Aboriginal businesses engaged has also increased year on year.
To count towards government agency targets, contracts must be valued at $50,000 and above, be awarded to a registered Aboriginal business and published on Tenders WA.
An additional $19 million in subcontracting arrangements for Aboriginal businesses was recently introduced through the Aboriginal Participation Requirements, which means more than $1 billion worth of government contracts have now been awarded to Aboriginal businesses over the past five years.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tony Buti, said “The results are excellent and demonstrate that the State Government remains committed to delivering contracting opportunities to Aboriginal businesses beyond the set targets of the Aboriginal Procurement Policy.
“A total of 211 contracts were awarded to Aboriginal businesses based in regional locations, with the total value awarded to those businesses more than $130 million.
“The Cook Government is strengthening relationships with Aboriginal businesses and is focused on growing the economic prosperity of all Western Australian communities,” he added.
The latest results reveal that the highest performing agencies include Main Roads (83 contracts), Department of Communities (62 contracts) and Department of Education (54 contracts) thus totalling 56% of all contracts.
Meanwhile, in relation to agencies by spend, Main Roads came out on top ($86 million), followed by Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety ($60 million) and Department of Communities ($34 million).
Minister for Finance Sue Ellery, said “This Policy has provided significant outcomes for Aboriginal businesses, especially those based in our regions.
“A fantastic example of this is Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation, which has increased employee numbers from 80 to 215 and expanded its services to support Aboriginal economic growth in the Kimberley as a result of working with the State Government.”
The news comes off the back of Federal Labor’s plans to change the definition of an ‘indigenous business’ to prevent companies from falsely claiming they engage First Nations Australians in their workforce and leadership team, in order to secure government funding – a practice otherwise known as “black-cladding”.
The Federal Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy currently states that an Aboriginal business must have at least 50 per cent indigenous ownership, but plans are in place to refine this to clamp down on black-cladding.