At the last Ballina Council meeting there was unanimous support for Cr Jeff Johnson’s motion regarding a plan to encourage indigenous economic development in the region.
The motion had two parts:
- That Council acknowledges and confirms its support for the Federal Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy targets of 3% of the number of contracts and at least 1% of the value of contracts being awarded to Indigenous businesses each financial year, based on a three year rolling average.
- That Council liaise with local Aboriginal organisations and employer groups with the aim of increasing the level of involvement of local Aboriginal owned businesses in Council’s procurement and tender processes.
Cr Johnson told Echonetdaily that he attended the Indigenous Economic Development Forum in August, which was focused on raising awareness of the importance of economic development to assist in closing the gap that still exists between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
‘Since 2015 the federal government has had an Indigenous Procurement Policy which has set a target of 3% of all government contracts to be awarded to indigenous owned businesses.
‘For a business to qualify it must be at least 50%,’ said Cr Johnson.
‘The best way to bridge the economic divide, which has obvious flow on effects, is to increase the number of indigenous owned and operated businesses in our local area and region. This not only creates wealth but also additional employment opportunities.’
Cr Johnson said Ballina Council can assist local indigenous businesses to apply for government contracts/tenders with the aim of increasing the number of locally owned indigenous businesses, increasing the percentage of council procurement being awarded to indigenous owned businesses and to grow local employment opportunities.
‘It’s my understanding that Clarence Valley Council is organising a regional tender writing skills workshop to assist local businesses to tender for NSW government (both state and local) contracts and grants,’ he said.
‘This will be a regional event that will coincide with Small Business Month and will provide a unique opportunity for local businesses to gain some necessary skills.’
Cr Johnson hopes that an additional workshop could be held in the Ballina Shire to encourage more local businesses to attend, particularly if there’s support for such an initiative from other local councils in the region.