Infrastructure Priority List Offers Opportunities for Social Procurement
3 April 2018 at 3:24 pm
Australia’s latest Infrastructure Priority List offers “an unprecedented opportunity” for social procurement, according to a leading social enterprise development organisation.
Social Traders welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) newest priority list on Tuesday, after IA identified more than $55 billion worth of “nation-shaping projects” needed over the next 15 years.
The list includes projects to meet rapid growth in major cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, as well as new projects like the $1 billion Brisbane Metro and the $800 million Beerburrum to Nambour rail upgrade in South East Queensland.
IA chair Julieanne Alroe said the Infrastructure Priority List helped to identify the “collective needs” of Australia.
“In the 10 years since Infrastructure Australia was formed, the priority list has helped establish a longer-term view of our collective needs as a nation – one that enables our leaders to look beyond elections and budgetary cycles and make evidence-based investment decisions,” Alroe said.
“With this updated evidence base, governments at all levels can embrace the opportunities in the short, medium and long term to deliver better infrastructure services for all Australians.”
Social Traders’ executive director Mark Daniels said major infrastructure projects had already proven to be a great opportunity for the purchase of goods or services from social enterprises, also known as social procurement.
Daniels encouraged businesses tendering for infrastructure contracts to mimic builders like John Holland, Boral and Mirvac by incorporating social enterprise into their supply chains, to create job job opportunities for disadvantaged Australians.
“The Infrastructure Priority List represents an unprecedented opportunity for the social enterprise sector,” Daniels said.
“At the same time, it’s a massive opportunity for the commercial sector to give back to the community, without having to make a radical change to the way they do things.
“We’ve worked with a number of developers who have spent approximately $20 million with social enterprises in the past 18 months, creating numerous employment opportunities for disadvantaged people.
“Buying from social enterprise represents the greatest untapped potential in generating positive, sustainable social impact and change.”
Daniels estimated that for every $100,000 dollars spent on social procurement, there were 1.5 jobs created for those suffering or at risk of disadvantage.
“These infrastructure projects can potentially have a huge impact on unemployment. We need to help corporate Australia understand what a major impact they could be having – for both themselves as much as disadvantaged Australians,” he said.
In 2017, the Victorian government released Australia’s first Social Enterprise Strategy. As part of this strategy, the Level Crossing Removal Authority became the first Victorian government organisation to adopt a social procurement policy, requiring that goods and services across its fifty projects are purchased from social enterprises where possible.
Daniels lauded Victoria for showing leadership in fostering social procurement and urged the corporate sector to follow suit.
“The Victorian government is leading the way in driving awareness of social procurement as a critical step to tackling disadvantage, and the corporate sector needs to follow its lead,” he said.
“They also need to understand there is a groundswell of conscientious consumers out there looking to spend their money with businesses that participate in social trading, which is where the commercial opportunities and benefits for them lie.”