Aboriginal Business Expo 2021 facilitates contracting opportunities

News story
Aboriginal Business Expo 2021 fosters new connections and opportunities for Aboriginal businesses, government, and suppliers.
People are sitting at tables and having discussions.

In October, we hosted the Aboriginal Business Expo 2021 with the theme, ‘Yarn Together’, at Optus Stadium. More than 70 Aboriginal businesses promoted their products and services to 44 State Government buyers and 13 major suppliers (head contractors), through formal and informal networking opportunities.

The Expo included a program of special guest speakers, stalls promoting support services, and curated networking sessions.

Dr Richard Walley presented a moving Welcome to Country, noting the Expo’s location on the banks of the Swan River was aligned with where Noongar people have met for many years to engage in business and trade.

Reconciliation WA CEO Jody Nunn and Co-Chair Carol Innes spoke about the importance of authentically engaging with Aboriginal businesses.

They emphasised the importance of agencies and Aboriginal businesses working together with three fundamental reconciliation pillars: relationships, respect, and opportunity.

“It can only be done if we have those really strong relationships in place, if we’ve demonstrated respect, and then the opportunities will follow,” Jody said.

A panel discussion on METRONET's Thornlie-Cockburn Link and Yanchep Rail Extension projects highlighted the importance of Aboriginal engagement strategies, and how Aboriginal businesses and government can work together to maximise sub-contracting and Aboriginal employment opportunities to meet the Aboriginal Procurement Policy's (APP) participation requirements.

Curated networking

Prior to the event, we matched Aboriginal businesses offering specific products and services with government agencies requiring those outputs. We then set up a dedicated networking space for each pair to discuss potential contracting opportunities.

More than 300 curated networking sessions occurred between Aboriginal businesses, government buyers, and suppliers.

Networks were formed between Aboriginal businesses and buyers, each having the opportunity to meet new candidates to consider for upcoming projects and procurements.

Horizon Power Manager Procurement and Supply Chain Michelle Hurdle said the curated networking sessions were helpful.

“These sessions are worthwhile and valuable opportunities to connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.

“Our team will be in touch with each business we met to explore opportunities to work together in the future,” she said.

APP success

The APP aims to increase contracting opportunities for Aboriginal businesses in Western Australia.

Since its launch in 2018, 692 contracts have been awarded to a value of $475 million.

From 1 January 2022, Aboriginal participation requirements will apply to suppliers on certain government contracts, which will need to meet either an Aboriginal employment or Aboriginal business subcontracting target.

Page reviewed 17 December 2021