$284 million dollars in awarded contracts in the first year of the Indigenous Procurement Policy is very impressive, so impressive in fact that the Federal Government is now bringing forward the 3 per cent national budget spend allocated to Indigenous business by 3 years, as announced by Minister Nigel Scullion 2 days ago. This particular spend is 46 times that of the 2012/13 year. Now that is what you call accelerating an economy!

It’s reported that 500 Indigenous businesses across the country have received contracts as part of that spend. This is all great news for us Indigenous businesses! It really is an exciting time to be part of this sector at the moment.

One of the main reasons the IPP was introduced in the Federal Government Procurement legislation is that studies have found Indigenous businesses employ more Indigenous people than any other sector. Makes sense right?

Just 2 days ago, the ninth consecutive annual Closing the Gap report was released. One of the targets that will never be met at the current rate is the Indigenous employment target; in fact, the rate has fallen to 48.4 per cent from 53.8 in 2008.

Given these reported Government figures, it would be interesting to know how many Indigenous people are employed within those businesses winning those contracts. The majority of those contracts have been awarded in the Building and Construction sector that need large workforces.

I have asked the question about how many Indigenous people are employed across the IPP contracts and was informed there is no such data. Currently, there are no clauses written into those contracts to ensure an Indigenous employment target. Therefore, we can only assume those businesses who are winning those contracts are not employing many or maybe no Indigenous people at all.

This problem is being compounded by the growing and accepted practice of a few Indigenous businesses winning large contracts, and then outsourcing the entire contract to mainstream companies who have the capabilities to deliver. Nothing new there as it’s a practice that is common in the mainstream contracting world. In this case, though, it is severely impeding the original intent of the IPP to generate huge Indigenous employment opportunities.

It’s not hard to figure out that the Indigenous employment gap could be considerably reduced overnight if those businesses winning the IPP contracts had to meet Indigenous employment targets. Not only will this stem the flow of outsourcing the contracts to mainstream companies but will also ensure a level of accountability on all winning contractors to employ Indigenous people. Implementing targets, then auditing them to ensure accuracy would make it easier for the relevant Departments to capture the numbers for future reporting transparency and reduce the gap at the same time.

Ochre is a 100% Indigenous-owned business; we have 100% Indigenous personnel contracted out to various clients across a variety of industries. There is no doubt we are the leading business in this space as a Certified Supply Nation company. Ochre also has a vast footprint across the County with strong networks into the Indigenous communities.

If your company or department needs immediate assistance to increase your Indigenous workforce numbers then please contact our office on 0894701008 or email joanne@ochrepeople.com.au. There is no reason or excuse for the Closing the Gap numbers to be failing so badly when there are businesses like Ochre around who are dedicated to assisting the Government in improving on this very issue. One thing we don’t need to do is outsource our contracts.