Our Indigenous Business Roadmap

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Our vision

To provide a cohesive approach that maximises our ability to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to contribute to and benefit from Australia’s economic growth.

Shifting the dial: 3 pillars

Pillar 1 Pillar 2 Pillar 3

Improving Indigenous business access to programs through policy development, review and evaluation

Improving Indigenous business outcomes through procurement

Building the Indigenous engagement ecosystem

The Supporting Indigenous Business Project underpins these pillars.

Pillar 1: Improving Indigenous business access to programs through policy development, review and evaluation

Achieving better outcomes for Indigenous businesses requires policy and programs that are responsive to the needs, strengths and aspirations of Indigenous business owners, entrepreneurs, and the broader Indigenous business sector. Indigenous Australians face a number of potential hurdles and obstacles to starting and running a business. Barriers can include lack of relevant business support, advice and mentorship. We want to ensure that our policies and programs — many of which engage directly with Australian businesses — are set up to deliver for Indigenous people as they establish and grow their business.

Actions underway

  1. Improve Indigenous business access to programs through policy development

    Policy areas of the department are required to explicitly consider the needs of Indigenous businesses when developing new policy. In consultation with a range of Indigenous stakeholders, the department has developed guidance material to help officers consider implications for Indigenous businesses when developing a new policy or reviewing an existing program. In analysing policy to be considered by government, a committee made up of the department’s policy executives will now take into account the extent to which Indigenous business impacts have been considered.
  2. Improving Indigenous business access to programs through existing program review

    The department has a committee that will ensure that Indigenous businesses are considered as part of program review. The committee will track what actions programs are taking, such as reducing barriers in program guidelines that Indigenous businesses might face in accessing our programs, and improving cultural awareness/competence of program officers or grant assessment committee members.

    In addition, the department will establish a goal to consider Indigenous representation on the department’s external Boards and Committees, where appropriately qualified candidates can be identified. We will also establish a commitment to only participate in speaking panels that have adequately considered Indigenous representation for business-related events.
  3. Considering Indigenous business outcomes as part of program evaluation

    The department is embedding consideration of Indigenous businesses during evaluation processes. Relevant indicators and metrics are being included in program evaluation frameworks, and evaluation questions on Indigenous business consideration are being included in evaluation terms of reference unless otherwise determined by the relevant evaluation Reference Group.

Pillar 2: Improving Indigenous business outcomes through procurement

The Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) is now in its sixth year. Reporting results indicate that the Commonwealth — and the department — exceeded the IPP target last financial year. The contract target was 3 per cent of all contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses based on a three year average of all contracts for the portfolio awarded in previous years. However, despite this, contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses were generally smaller in dollar value and so only represented around 1 per cent of the total value of all new contracts awarded for the department. We have committed to improving on our prior year value-based target by 0.25 per cent. This puts the department’s procurement from Indigenous businesses well above the 1 per cent value-based target for the portfolio set under the Commonwealth requirements for 2019–20 financial year.

Actions underway

  1. Ensuring staff make better use of the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP)

    The department’s Innovation Hub, BizLab, was brought in to apply human-centred design principles and techniques to help our officers make better use of the IPP. The project team conducted a staff survey and based on their research, recommended a number of initiatives to drive greater uptake of the IPP.

    This includes a departmental policy that staff approach an Indigenous supplier where possible for all procurements. Other initiatives include:
    • guidance for staff about how to find and approach an Indigenous supplier;
    • guidance on how to raise the profile and priority of social impact in tender documentation and processes; and
    • support to build staff confidence to engage suppliers who have limited government experience and form relationships with Indigenous suppliers.
  2. Using collaboration to drive better procurement outcomes

    The department will work with other government agencies to share and apply these learnings to help the Commonwealth achieve its new value targets.

Pillar 3: Building the Indigenous engagement ecosystem

The department does not currently administer programs specific to Indigenous businesses, however, the department administers a range of mainstream business support programs which Indigenous businesses can apply for. Research has shown that it is not clear to the Indigenous businesses sector that mainstream support is an option. This lack of clarity causes difficulty in finding and navigating our support.

Actions underway

  1. Establishing a Statement of Reconciliation with portfolio agencies

    The executive leadership of the Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources portfolio agencies have signed a Statement of Reconciliation to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to reconciliation. As agencies that drive Australia’s economic productivity by supporting innovation, science, research, business and investment, we believe that we can achieve more by taking a collaborative and cohesive approach towards reconciliation across our portfolio. The Statement of Reconciliation includes guiding principles on cultural protocols, recruitment and leadership, mobility and skills and policy and program delivery.
  2. Establishing linkages across Commonwealth agencies, State and Territory governments, and the private sector

    The department is working to understand how government can best work together and leverage our collective knowledge and networks to support Indigenous businesses. For example, ensuring that Indigenous businesses that are in contact with one agency, are directed to the appropriate support available across all government agencies. To help achieve this, the department is developing a Commonwealth Government ecosystem map, and is working with other agencies to ensure it is developed and utilised using insights from across government and the private sector.

    Departmental officers are also encouraged to consider how to build and grow links between Indigenous businesses and mainstream businesses, industry bodies and education providers. This includes encouraging non-Indigenous business owners to do business with Indigenous business owners, like the Business Council of Australia’s Raise the Bar initiative, which is working with Australia’s leading corporations to increase Indigenous inclusion in their supply chains.
  3. Engaging with Indigenous businesses and communities directly

    Research suggests that a lack of meaningful feedback restricts Indigenous businesses’ ability to successfully engage in the department’s programs and procurement activities. The department is undertaking work to equip staff to provide constructive and meaningful feedback every time they engage an Indigenous supplier or respond to an unsuccessful grant applicant.

    Departmental officers are also encouraged to consider the best channels to maximise Indigenous stakeholders’ awareness - including in remote areas - of their policies and programs, and use culturally appropriate language to promote and raise awareness. For instance, by engaging with: Indigenous Business Australia or Supply Nation; social or print media such as the Koori Mail; Indigenous community radio and television such as National Indigenous TV (NITV) and NITV Radio; the Torres Strait Regional Authority; Indigenous Peak Bodies such as Land Councils and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples; the AusIndustry Regional Managers’ network; or the National Indigenous Australians Agency. Which channels are used will depend on each specific program or policy.

What we want to achieve

The department is working on building a robust dataset detailing our engagement with Indigenous businesses. Until this dataset is available, we have set aspirational goals for the overall vision and for each of the three pillars.


Outputs / Outcomes

Overall vision

  • Our vision is to provide a cohesive approach that maximises our ability to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to contribute to and benefit from Australia’s economic growth

Pillar 1: Improving Indigenous business access to programs through policy development, review and evaluation

  • Improving Indigenous business access to programs through policy development
  • Improving Indigenous business access to programs through program review
  • Considering Indigenous business access to programs as part of evaluation

Pillar 2: Improving procurement

  • Achieving a departmental target above the Commonwealth mandated IPP target

Pillar 3: Building the Indigenous engagement ecosystem

  • Establishing a Statement of Reconciliation with portfolio agencies
  • Continuing to establish linkages across Commonwealth agencies, State and Territory governments, and the private sector
  • Continuing to engage with Indigenous communities directly