The proportion of Water Corporation contracts awarded to Indigenous Australian suppliers has increased for the third consecutive year, with 5.1 per cent of contracts above $50,000 awarded to Indigenous Australian businesses in 2021-22.
This was ahead of the three per cent target under the Western Australian Government’s Aboriginal Procurement Policy, a landmark Indigenous Australian engagement strategy.
The value of the contracts more than doubled to $34.5 million, up from $14.1 million (FY20-21) and $4.8 million (FY19-20) in the previous financial years. In the same period, Indigenous Australian suppliers registered with Water Corporation rose to 232 with 96 per cent being Western Australian.
Opportunities for Indigenous Australian businesses and the community will be further enhanced with the development of Water Corporation’s inaugural Aboriginal engagement strategy, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, to support its external Reconciliation Action Plan.
Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “By committing to the McGowan Government’s Aboriginal Procurement Policy, Water Corporation has again increased the proportion of its contracts awarded to Aboriginal suppliers – up to a record $34.5 million in the last financial year.
“To continue developing opportunities for Aboriginal suppliers and delivering enhanced outcomes for Aboriginal people, Water Corporation has developed a bold new Aboriginal engagement strategy.
“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow articulates its commitment to ensuring Aboriginal culture directly informs its decision making and ways of working, while also acknowledging and healing from the past to make meaningful change and improve the equity of water services.
“I commend Water Corporation’s Aboriginal employees and community members involved in the development of this landmark strategy – believed to be among the first of its kind in Western Australia – that sets the blueprint for Aboriginal engagement.”
The co-designed and Indigenous Australian-led internal strategy seeks to promote and support self-determination principles, social inclusion, cultural security, and economic participation with Aboriginal people and their communities, and is believed to be among the first of its kind in Western Australia.
Under its initial four-year implementation plan, Water Corporation has committed to 20 objectives under five key goals:
- Our People
- Our Culture
- Our Community
- Our Country
Ranging from increasing its workforce through culturally appropriate and supportive recruitment processes to addressing long-standing inequality of water and wastewater services to Aboriginal communities. Procurement processes will also be enhanced to further support Aboriginal suppliers.
Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Tony Buti, said, “The buying power of the Western Australian Government is significant, so policies geared towards supporting Aboriginal businesses make a big difference.
“Water Corporation has responsibilities all over the state, and contracts are frequently given to businesses with superior connections to the communities they are working in.
“The Aboriginal business sector continues to strengthen, and through their growth we are seeing more significant Government contracts awarded.”