WA Government-owned Water Corporation has introduced a landmark Indigenous Australian engagement strategy as a continuation of efforts to advance opportunities for Aboriginal businesses and the community. 

This comes alongside the announcement by State Water Minister, Dave Kelly, that the proportion of Water Corporation contracts awarded to Indigenous suppliers has grown for the third year in a row.

In 2021-22, 5.1 per cent of contracts above $50,000 were awarded to Indigenous Australian businesses – well ahead of the three per cent target under the Western Australia’s Aboriginal Procurement Policy.

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,the number of Indigenous Australian suppliers registered with Water Corporation rose to 232 with 96 per cent being Western Australian.

Water Corporation’s inaugural Aboriginal engagement strategy, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, to support its external Reconciliation Action Plan will further opportunities for Aboriginal businesses and the community.

“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,” Mr Kelly said. 

“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 WA – 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 Indigenous Australian people and their communities, and is believed to be among the first of its kind in Western Australia.

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.”

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, and Visibility), 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 Indigenous Australian suppliers.

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