Release type: Media Release

Date:

Corporate heavyweights invest in Indigenous business

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Mark Arbib
Minister for Employment Participation
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Government Service Delivery

Two of the country’s most significant organisations today signed up to the Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council (AIMSC) pilot project to link Indigenous businesses with some of Australia’s biggest corporations.

Minister for Employment Participation Mark Arbib today conducted a signing ceremony for construction giant Leighton Holdings and leading international law firm Allens Arthur Robinson with Indigenous business Message Stick.

Message Stick, one of Australia's leading niche conferencing services providers, will provide Leighton and Allens Arthur Robinson with advanced audio and web conferencing services.

“The Rudd Government has invested $3 million in the pilot project to link Indigenous businesses with some of Australia’s biggest organisations, and I’m delighted to see businesses of the stature of Leighton and Allens Arthur Robinson coming on board,” Senator Arbib said.

“This project is designed to change the way corporate Australia engages with Indigenous Australia and was inspired by similar successful models from the US, Canada and the UK.

“Without support from major corporates we could not hold this project which introduces Indigenous-owned businesses to corporate members, with the goal of building strong commercial relationships.”

The agreements between Message Stick and the two companies are for two years and are together worth about $2 million to Message Stick revenues.

The Supplier Council was set up to assist Indigenous businesses to understand and meet the procurement requirements of major organisations.

Indigenous businesses can then enter directly into commercial contracts and tender for public contracts offered by Supplier Council members.

AIMSC so far has 17 corporate members and 10 Indigenous suppliers have been formally certified with another round of suppliers due to be certified soon.

To date, AIMSC has facilitated $1.25m in direct contracts between members and suppliers.

“As we have seen overseas, this model has enormous potential to boost Indigenous business participation and create sustainable jobs for Indigenous Australians and the results so far are very pleasing,” Senator Arbib said.

“The Government is committed to promoting Indigenous economic development, and the success of Indigenous businesses is a key part the national effort to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

“The trial is an investment in both economic recovery and jobs for Indigenous people.”

Message Stick Group CEO Michael McLeod has been one of the driving forces behind this project and welcomed today’s contract signings.

"This all started when the PM made the apology and committed his Government to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians over 10 years,” Mr McLeod said.

“We are very grateful to Leighton and Allens for the opportunity to show that Indigenous entrepreneurs can responsibly manage corporate relationships.

“My great hope for the future is that many more Indigenous entrepreneurs can have these opportunities.

“For me, this is a modest but critical part of this county’s efforts to see Indigenous Australians break free from welfare dependency.

“With growth in Indigenous business ownership you will see a growth in Indigenous employment across the country. It won't be all perfume and roses - there will be problems and business failures. But my money is on my people making a real go of this."

To participate in the pilot, Indigenous-owned businesses can contact