Proctor : October 2018
5 PROCTOR | October 2018 A Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is a lot more than an acknowledgement of respect for Indigenous culture. It is, after all, an action plan, which encompasses positive actions to be taken in relation to a host of things, including employment and even procurement. October is National Indigenous Business Month – a time to recognise and promote the growing number of businesses owned and operated by members of Australia’s Indigenous community. This initiative came from a meeting of Indigenous entrepreneurs who took part in the MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class program at Melbourne Business School in 2015. It has since been adopted by government and many in the business community, including law firms. The Queensland Government has established an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business and Innovation Reference Group and a Queensland Indigenous Procurement Policy (QIPP) which came into effect last year. This has the aim of increasing procurement with Indigenous businesses to 3% of annual spend by 2022 – and with the Government spending around $18 billion a year on procurement. I have spoken to other organisations, including law firms, about Indigenous procurement. McCullough Robertson’s Director of Human Resources, Louise Ferris told me that the firm has a long history of engaging with Indigenous organisations and community. She said the firm had worked specifically on Indigenous procurement for just over two years. “We are committed to achieving meaningful reconciliation with First Nations people and we believe we have a role to play to help close the social and economic gap faced by First Nations people,” Louise said. “Our plan for reconciliation is focused on these areas. We believe that through First Nations procurement we are able to provide proactive support to First Nations businesses of all different sizes and stages of their business development, in turn creating opportunity and building relationships.” The firm has engaged with First Nations businesses in the areas of presentations and education events, catering, office supplies, artwork, consultancy and advisory services. “We recognise that supporting First Nations businesses and creating economic and employment opportunities is a meaningful way to address the social and economic gap experienced by First Nations people, and enables us to engage with and support the communities in which we work,” Louise said. “We benefit from the engagement with diverse businesses and the products and services they provide. We encourage members of the firm to participate in activities that acknowledge and promote the contribution, culture and history of First Nations people and the opportunity to engage First Nations businesses, products or services supports us to do that.” Indigenous law firms and organisations are also proud supporters of Indigenous business. The President of the Indigenous Lawyers Association of Queensland (ILAQ), Avelina Tarrago, said she believed that, if the ILAQ supported its community, its community would support the ILAQ. The association procures goods and services including its website and media from an Aboriginal-owned company, catering from a Supply Nation-approved company and entertainment from the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts. When it comes to sourcing goods and services from Indigenous providers, you can start with websites such as Supply Nation (supplynation.org.au) and Black Business Finder (bbf.org.au). At QLS1 we procure a variety of services and products from First Nation’s businesses including office stationery, catering and water. I’d also recommend having a look at the KPMG publication, Igniting the Indigenous Economy (search for it at kpmg.com.au) which will give you a much broader view of the topic than I am able to present here. Supporting Indigenous enterprises will enhance your corporate social responsibility and offer some diversity in your purchases. For some firms, it makes a significant point of difference. By supporting Indigenous suppliers you are also creating jobs for Indigenous workers and helping to close the gap of disadvantage. Rolf Moses Queensland Law Society CEO Our executive report Try a taste of Indigenous procurement Helping to close the gap of disadvantage Note 1 Check out our RAP at qls.com.au/RAP .