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Using consultation to develop an Aboriginal Procurement Policy in WA

15 February 2022

News and media


Image of having a consultation over a piece of paper


As part of its commitment to Closing the Gap, the West Australian Government announced in 2017 that it would introduce an Aboriginal Procurement Policy to improve employment outcomes for Indigenous people.

A new Teaching Case in ANZSOG’s John L. Alford Case Library, ‘Part of the process: the role of consultation and collaboration in the development of the Aboriginal Procurement Policy in Western Australia’ written by Susannah Nichols for the Institute of Public Administration, outlines how the WA Department of Finance developed a policy that satisfied two key stakeholders: the Aboriginal business sector and WA Government agencies, by emphasising consultation and collaboration in a way that was sensitive to Indigenous needs.

In developing the policy, the Department of Finance faced entrenched distrust of the government from the Aboriginal business sector, and a reluctance to change procurement practices within government agencies.

The case study outlines the steps taken by the department to develop a consultation process and demonstrates the benefit of genuine stakeholder consultation throughout the policy development, implementation and evaluation processes. It emphasises how critical it is to maintain this close relationship through the whole policy development process.

For the Aboriginal Procurement Policy, stakeholder consultation and collaboration was not a one-off activity; it was considered and incorporated, where feasible, throughout the policy cycle. As an example, Indigenous business input informed the content of the training programs that were developed to ensure the Aboriginal business sector had the knowledge to win government contracts, which was critical for the successful implementation of the Policy.

The initial consultation sessions informed the decision to host the Aboriginal Business Expo – a forum to bring Indigenous businesses and government agencies together – in March 2018. In preparation for the implementation of the Policy in July, the Department’s Social Procurement Initiative (SPI) team noted from consultations the need of opportunities for the Aboriginal business sector and government agencies to develop business networks and relationships.

The Expo showcased the quality goods and services available from 64 exhibiting Indigenous businesses. Approximately 400 representatives from the public and private sectors attended the expo. Indigenous business, IQ Traffic, welcomed the opportunity to showcase their traffic management expertise at the Expo. As IQ Traffic Managing Director, Katina Law said:

“Aboriginal Procurement Policy demonstrates a commitment from the state government to follow the path created by the federal government and have a real and measurable focus on providing opportunities and much needed support to Aboriginal businesses. WA has some remarkable ventures, products and professional services headed and driven by local Aboriginal people, ready for opportunities.”

In January 2021, the WA Government announced the extension of the Policy for another three years with an increase in targets from 3% to 4% by 2023-24. The WA Government says the Aboriginal Procurement Policy has achieved its intended targets and has, broadly, been well received by the Aboriginal business sector and has begun changing behaviour within the public sector, although measuring its full impact on Aboriginal employment and social outcomes will take time.

The program has also had broader benefits including, building links between Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses, and allowing Indigenous-owned businesses a chance to use their cultural knowledge.

For example, Eon Protection were awarded a government contract in security services. The General Manager, Gerard Matera, identified the importance of having ‘Aboriginal security personnel at shopping centres and train stations, which were hotspots for young Aboriginals getting themselves into trouble’. He said that ‘it was usually a non-Indigenous person tackling social issues they did not have much education about’

The full case can be found in ANZSOG’s John L. Alford Case Library. The Library contains almost 300 examples of public policy challenges from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, available for free and designed to be used in the development of public managers.

In addition, ANZSOG’s Wise Practice collection is a combination of public administration and policy resources, including material from the Case Library, centred on the knowledge and culture of the First Peoples of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

The evolving collection focuses on stories which demonstrate how First Peoples culture, knowledge and perspectives can achieve successful outcomes when Indigenous communities and governments come together to work in partnership. The collection also includes resources produced by the ANZSOG First Peoples program, including the 2017, 2019 and 2021 First Peoples public administration conferences.

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