Aboriginal businesses supplying to government

How to find opportunities, promote your business and get support when looking for government work as an Aboriginal business.

The Social Procurement team within the Department of Finance provides support and advice to Aboriginal businesses looking to work with WA Government agencies. They also host the Aboriginal Business Expo to encourage networking between businesses and agencies.

How does the WA Government buy?

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Government buys differently depending on whether we are buying goods and services, community services or works (construction services). 

Goods and services

If you supply goods or services, for example, stationery or consulting services, you need to follow a certain process.

Community services

If your organisation provides services to meet a community need, for example, financial counselling services, you need to be familiar with how agencies buy from the community services sector.

Works-related services

In WA, ‘works’ refers to all services related to building and construction, maintenance and government office fit outs. Supplying to Government - Supplying works provides information about the main agencies that are buying building and construction services. These agencies specialise in particular types of building or construction work, which may have different requirements and processes depending on the type of work.

We manage building projects including schools, hospitals and prisons. We also manage maintenance works for several other agencies. Supplying Department of Finance works-related services takes you through the journey of contracting on Department of Finance works projects.

Finding opportunities, identifying government buyers and marketing yourself

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Knowing where to look, and targeting the way you market your business to government, will improve your chances of contracting with the Western Australian Government.

Finding opportunities

Tenders WA is a great place to start when researching opportunities. Using Tenders WA you can:

Agencies have to publish details of contracts valued $250,000 and above on Tenders WA.

For opportunities under $250,000 agencies invite suppliers to quote, or directly engage a supplier. It is important to effectively market your business so that you're on the buyers' radars and can be considered for these lower value opportunities.

Although these opportunities may not be advertised on Tenders WA, agencies must publish details of all their awarded contracts valued $50,000 and above on Tenders WA.

Researching awarded contracts is a useful way of identifying:

  • which agencies have requirements that align with what your business offers
  • if agencies have contracts expiring soon which may represent upcoming opportunities
  • who the head contractor is on major contracts for subcontracting opportunities.

Identifying the right buyers

The WA Government is made up of 130 agencies, so you will need to target agencies that are buying what your organisation has to offer. The Who Buys What and How report is a good place to start. It shows what State agencies have purchased in the last financial year, which industries they have contracts in, and the value of those contract values.

If you’re interested in targeting an agency, you can see contact details listed on the Government Purchasing Officers List. If your business is in a regional area, Local Content Advisors are well informed about their region and can help you find opportunities.

Promoting your business to government

When a procurement officer is beginning to research the market, they will usually begin this search with desktop research.

For WA Government to directly engage your business, your business needs to be registered on the Aboriginal Business Directory WA or Supply Nation’s Indigenous Business Direct.

Registration on each of the directories is free. As these directories will be one of the first places a government buyer will look for an Aboriginal business, make sure your listing is accurate and your business website is up to date. If your business uses Facebook or another social media page, government agencies may not be able to access it due to IT restrictions.

Finding subcontracting opportunities on government projects

From 1 January 2022, suppliers on certain government contracts will need to meet either an Aboriginal employment target or an Aboriginal business subcontracting target. As a result, it is expected that there will be more opportunities for Aboriginal businesses to find subcontracting opportunities on government contracts.

Using Tenders WA

Tenders WA is a good place to start to identify opportunities. You will be able to see who has been awarded major contracts in the sectors that your business operates and contact them for potential subcontracting opportunities.

On some works contracts, the agency may make information available regarding which businesses have downloaded the specification documents. This gives a good indication of the businesses that are likely to submit an offer for the work and includes contact details to allow you to approach them regarding potential opportunities.

Opportunities in the regions

Local Content Advisers (LCAs) can provide information about large projects in the pipeline in their region and may be able to offer suggestions about subcontracting opportunities on those projects.

The Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation runs a series of Communication Forums each year to provide small to medium-sized businesses opportunities to hear about local contract opportunities in each region. Information about the forums is regularly updated on the Industry Link events page.

Aboriginal Procurement Policy (APP)

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The Aboriginal Procurement Policy (APP) was introduced in 2018 and sets progressive targets for agencies to increase their contracting with Aboriginal businesses. The policy requires agencies to award a percentage of their contracts to registered Aboriginal businesses according to the following targets for each financial year:

  • 2020–21: 3 per cent
  • 2022–23: 3.5 per cent
  • 2023–24: 4 per cent

The APP applies to all goods, services, community services and works procurement valued over $50,000.

From 1 January 2022, suppliers on certain contracts will need to meet Aboriginal participation targets, either an Aboriginal business subcontracting target or an Aboriginal employment target. Contracts valued at $5 million or above in construction, community services, education and training or public administration will include these targets.

The performance outcomes of each financial year are published on APP Performance Reports.

Agency initiatives to support contracting with Aboriginal businesses

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Policies, direct purchasing, employment targets and tendering preferences are some of the initiatives agencies have to support increased engagement of Aboriginal businesses.

Direct purchasing from an Aboriginal business

Under the Procurement Rules, WA Government agencies can tender directly with Aboriginal businesses. Businesses need to show they are a value for money option and that they have the required capacity and capability to fulfil the contract. Businesses need to be registered on Aboriginal Business Directory WA or Supply Nation’s Indigenous Business Direct.

Agency specific initiatives

Some WA Government agencies may also have their own policies and initiatives to support procurement with Aboriginal businesses. You should contact agencies you are interested in contracting with to find out further information.

Aboriginal business and employment tendering preferences

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance (Building Management and Works) apply a price preference to offers from Aboriginal businesses on all works projects. This means that offers are evaluated as though they have been reduced by a set amount, typically 10 per cent, which can make your pricing more competitive compared to other businesses.

The price preference also applies to the portion of a contract a supplier proposes to subcontract to an Aboriginal business, or the employment of Aboriginal persons.

Aboriginal participation plans

Some WA Government agencies require suppliers to complete an Aboriginal participation plan as part of the tender document, outlining how the supplier will engage or employ Aboriginal people or businesses throughout the contract. If this is required, it will be stated in the Request document.

Aboriginal employment targets

Main Roads and Department of Communities set targets for Aboriginal employment on certain contracts. The targets vary by region and what the contract is for.

Aboriginal businesses should contact each of these departments for more information.

Prequalification upgrade for Aboriginal businesses

The Department of Finance allows Aboriginal businesses that are prequalified under the Builders Prequalification Scheme to apply for an upgrade to their prequalification level that allows them to tender for a contract that they would not normally be able to.

Panel membership

Aboriginal businesses can apply to join the following Department of Finance non-residential works panels to qualify for consultancy work

Businesses wanting to do work in regional Western Australia are also encouraged to join the Department of Finance’s Service Alliance 2012

Support services for Aboriginal businesses

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There are providers of finance and economic support, training and capability building as well as business support across Western Australia.

Finance and economic support providers

Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation

Agribusiness Investment Program provides funding for new or growing Aboriginal agribusinesses Australia-wide, no associated costs.

National Indigenous Australians Agency

Indigenous Tourism Fund includes business support, grants, and complementary programs for Aboriginal-owned tourism businesses, targeting Aboriginal businesses Australia-wide with no associated costs.

Many Rivers

Provides finance options to enable clients to start businesses.

Training, mentoring and capability building

Noongar Enterprise Development Support

Encourages and supports social enterprise and small Aboriginal business (through mentoring, one on one support offerings). They support target Aboriginal businesses in the Wheatbelt region with no associated costs.

Small Business Development Commission

Provides small business workshops, advisory service and a Business Local service through regional providers, including:

Business Foundations runs a New Enterprise Incentive Scheme which includes training to help individuals start, improve and grow their enterprise. There are no costs for eligible participants.

Aboriginal Business Capability Building Contract (ABCB)

Finance has appointed three suppliers to provide Aboriginal business capability building across Western Australia. The providers offer workshops and other services to help you to build your capability to respond to government tenders.

Morrgul

Provides Aboriginal business capability building contract services – including workshops and one-on-one mentoring services in the Kimberley. Morrgul also offers business support, workshops and a procurement advisory service for Aboriginal businesses in the Kimberley.

Indigenous Professional Services

Provides Aboriginal business capability building contract services including workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions in the Perth metro, Peel, South West and Great Southern regions.

Keogh Bay

Provides Aboriginal business capability building contract services including workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions in the Pilbara, Midwest, Gascoyne, Wheatbelt and Goldfield-Esperance regions.

Brokering and connecting services

ABDWA

Provides an opportunity for Aboriginal businesses to list their business in an accessible location for government buyers. There is no cost for Aboriginal businesses to register.

Supply Nation

Facilitate connections between Aboriginal businesses and members in procurement departments. There is no cost for Aboriginal businesses to register..

Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry

The Chambers provide networking opportunities and events for regional WA businesses. There are annual membership fees and costs associated with some events.

Wirrpanda Foundation:

Operate the hub in Burswood, where Aboriginal businesses can access business coaching and mentoring and access to specialist business support, free office space and computer access.

Organisations providing multiple types of support

Indigenous Business Australia

Provides Aboriginal businesses across Australia with:

WA Industry Link

Provides local and small businesses:

  • Local Capability Fund
    • funding support for small and local businesses to enhance their capacity, capability and competitiveness.
  • Industry Link Advisory Service
    • advice on where to find government tenders, how to complete participation plans, accessing state and federal government funding and capability building programs and others
  • Local Content Advisers
    • advice to businesses about understanding government buying and linking businesses to upcoming local opportunities
  • Events
    • including regional communications forum to connect local businesses with upcoming opportunities.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia

Provides WA businesses:

Noongar Chamber of Commerce

Provides Aboriginal businesses in the South West:

  • secretarial support services
  • capacity building, networking and training.

There are membership fees and costs associated with training.

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Page reviewed 28 October 2021