Page 3660 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022
The ACT government’s commitment and work to drive business growth and economic participation for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and businesses reflects a commitment in the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Agreement.
The ACT government has been supporting dedicated business development programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and entrepreneurs since 2017. The original program was established to offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and entrepreneurs mentoring and business support, and connection to education and training opportunities.
The program was delivered by a local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business and ran until February this year. Over the course of the program many local organisations engaged with, and gained access to, much-needed support, particularly through the very challenging business operating environment of 2020 and 2021.
In August 2020 the government undertook an independent review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business growth and viability in the ACT to explore the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned and operated businesses, to identify gaps, and to provide recommendations to guide the territory on future solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business support.
This review highlighted the need for a service which connected businesses with existing support services via a concierge approach. Delivering a concierge-based service which connects the needs of businesses to areas of support would have the greatest reach and impact for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to develop and grow.
The concierge service provider would need to have strong connections and excellent relationships across the business support ecosystem to ensure that Indigenous businesses are referred to a range of programs and services offered by federal and local governments, tertiary education providers, Indigenous organisations and culturally appropriate businesses.
Getting to this point has been the result of extensive engagement. The ACT government engaged with federal and local government agencies, universities and local industry organisations offering business support, Indigenous grant programs, accelerator and incubator programs and businesses with the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Videos explaining the services government was seeking and how to apply were developed and shared on social media channels which reached a cross-section of Indigenous businesses. Additional information sessions with interested applicants were also held. Finally, tenderers were invited to pitch their approach to the evaluation team.
I believe this comprehensive and consultative approach, including extensive engagement both nationally and locally, has resulted in a program well placed to work with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.