Aboriginal Business Engagement

A large State Government Agency that delivers major infrastructure and transport projects across the state spends millions of dollars with a range of suppliers. This agency has long had a commitment to support Aboriginal businesses but wanted to look at new ways it could engage and lift its overall performance in supporting this important sector of our economy, as well as the social and societal benefits that can be delivered by supporting and purchasing from the Aboriginal business sector.

This State Government Agency was looking to boost its measured performance in the percentage of spend that was going to Aboriginal businesses each year. They were looking to be seen as a leader in this area of social procurement within the SA Public Sector and beyond.

The project showed that engagement with Aboriginal businesses was often left to the Aboriginal Engagement Unit or the Procurement Team. When projects commenced, project teams were more focused on the deliverables rather than inputs (like Aboriginal businesses). As a result, projects were designed and scoped without considering Aboriginal businesses and some projects inadvertently ‘designed out’ smaller businesses by the way they were scoped.

ArcBlue put in place a project team including Liz Allen (who has significant sector expertise in Aboriginal engagement) along with a Consultant and Regional Manager. Extensive consultations were undertaken with the client to understand current practices and identify areas for improvement. This involved the ArcBlue Team conducting one on one meetings with client staff involved in project delivery right up to the Chief Executive. This gave the team a clear line of sight about the accountabilities in the organisation for delivering against its Aboriginal Engagement objectives.

The ArcBlue team then worked through this feedback and developed a range of strategies from policy changes to programming dedicated Aboriginal business events to data collection and reporting.

The feedback from the State Government Agency was very positive (including from the Chief Executive). The ArcBlue report was clear and simple to read, practical in the way recommendations were made and provided a clear road map for improving performance. In addition to the report, ArcBlue was also asked to provide an implementation plan. The feedback from the client was highly favourable and met their requirements for the project.

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