By 2023, Western Australian State Government agencies will be required to award four per cent of their contracts to Aboriginal businesses in an expansion of the State’s Aboriginal Procurement Policy.

According to numbers released by Finance Minister Ben Wyatt‘s office, the policy has put $339 million in the pockets of more than 142 Aboriginal businesses since it was implemented in July 2018.

The expansion gives the policy another three years, while lifting the targets progressively from the current three percent to four percent by the 2023/24 financial year.

Minister Wyatt called the policy a success he was “extremely proud of”.

“Every year we have exceeded our targets, demonstrating the local Aboriginal business sector’s breadth and capacity,” he said.

“It has also improved the economic prosperity of Aboriginal businesses and the broader Aboriginal community by supporting local jobs — many in regional areas.”

The Noongar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has welcomed the move.

“Any increase in the amount of procurement that the government is going to spend with Aboriginal businesses is welcome,” said CEO Tim Milsom.

“Three years ago, we didn’t have an [Aboriginal Procurement] policy, so there was no way of measuring what the Aboriginal business sector was doing.

“[There’s] still a long way to go, but at least we’ve got a starting position [from which] we can measure.”

The NCCI provided feedback to a review of the policy that found it had been successful at increasing government engagement with Aboriginal businesses.

The Chamber made around 15 recommendations to the review but will not know which have been accepted until the new policy is released in July.

Jonathon Griffin, former AFL player and Managing Director of Aboriginal-owned construction and maintenance company Boya Group, said the extended policy is a step towards Reconciliation.

“There is no better time to start, own or be a part of an Indigenous business. The opportunities the Federal and State Governments are providing for our Indigenous people and businesses are really starting to create a positive change in our community,” Griffin said.

“These types of incentives ensure growth in Indigenous businesses and capability, which I believe is aiding in bridging the gap, and is bringing us closer to Reconciliation in Australia.”

By Sarah Smit