Business Engagement With Indigenous Aussies Soaring
28 January 2015 at 10:35 am
Australian companies are continuing to explore and find new ways of supporting Indigenous economic and social inclusion, according to a new report.
The Business Council of Australia’s 2014 Indigenous Engagement Survey Report found that while employment remains a focus, more companies are involved in a broad range of activities, including cadetships, microfinance, and setting up joint ventures with Indigenous businesses.
“In 2014, 85 per cent of companies were involved in activities to support Indigenous economic and community development. In 2009, when the survey started, it was less than 30 per cent,” the report said.
“Media reports on Indigenous issues too frequently focus on despair and failure. The experience of our member companies provides cause for optimism.
“Progress over the last five years to achieve the almost universal commitment of Australia’s largest businesses to reconciliation and improving Indigenous life outcomes represents a huge national shift.”
The survey also found that:
- Over 15,000 Indigenous Australians are working at Business Council of Australia (BCA) companies.
- $1.7 billion was spent with Indigenous enterprises and joint ventures.
- $72 million was contributed towards Indigenous education initiatives.
- 100,000 pro bono hours was provided to Indigenous organisations and communities.
- 85 per cent of companies surveyed have Indigenous engagement activities.
- All companies with a workforce of over 20,000 have an Indigenous engagement strategy and 95 per cent of companies with more than 5,000 staff have an Indigenous engagement strategy.
- Companies are working with or supporting more than 50 Indigenous partner organisations.
“The green shoots of progress can be seen in the growing Indigenous business sector and the overall increase in private sector employment of Indigenous people over the last decade,” the report said.
“Companies report benefits through improved corporate cultures, more diverse workforces, access to unique products and services, and stronger relationships with local communities.
“The findings of the BCA’s 2014 Indigenous engagement survey are not only cause for optimism, they’re also the result of it.
“We are optimistic about the prospects of a fairer, more inclusive future, proper recognition of the past, and the capacity of genuine partnerships to deliver meaningful and lasting change.”
While the BCA said there was much to be positive about when it came to Indigenous engagement, it said looking forward there were some big steps that needed to be made.
It said that proposed changes to the Australian Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians was important.
“The BCA believes recognition aligns with BCA principles and values of fairness, shared prosperity and the need for social and economic conditions that support all Australians to realise their potential,” the BCA said.
“Recognition is important to Australia’s future as an inclusive democracy. Clarity on timing and the form of the question are required as soon as possible.
“Once a question and timeline are set, leaders need to deliver on strong cross party support. The referendum should not be held concurrently with an election.
“Constitutional recognition is not tokenistic. Respect and acknowledgment are central to long-term material outcomes.”