“One thing we have always advocated for around the policy is the use of the mandatory set aside, and the need to increase the number of higher value contracts that Indigenous businesses can win.
“We know that many departments have gone a along way to embed Indigenous businesses in their supply chain and build relationships. However, there are still those who treat the policy as transactional and in order to meet their contract numbers will offer many little contracts, which make it harder for Indigenous businesses to become sustainable,” she said.
A major issue raised in the discussions was the success of the IPP in terms of Indigenous employment, and the need for strategies to both attract and retain Indigenous employees.
Kristal said it was important to remember employment opportunities can only be possible when there is financial sustainability.
“One or two contracts won’t help a small Indigenous business grow. Attracting Indigenous staff, depending on industry, can also be tough,” she said.
“What we realised early on, is that you can’t rely on the federal government alone to build a business. An Indigenous business should have multiple markets and sectors that they are tackling to build a strong revenue base.
“Focusing on delivering strongly and building meaningful client relationships will ensure repeat work. We’re fortunate to have been able to create new employment opportunities because of our growth. However, if we don’t continue to maintain our contract and revenue levels, we won’t be able to sustain the roles.
“We have also struggled with attracting Indigenous staff. We are based in regions, and a lot of talent exists in the major cities. Challenges with matched career aspirations, salary expectations and other work conditions can have a big impact on attracting Indigenous staff to a business, which we have experienced first-hand.”
The IPP will undergo further changes from July 1 2019, with the target for Indigenous procurement to be increased by 0.25 per cent each year from 2020, until it reaches three per cent in 2027.