Indigenous joint ventures are yet to realise their full potential, representatives from Wesfarmers, WorleyParsons and Rio Tinto told the Indigenous business conference at The University of Western Australia yesterday.
The Indigenous Business, Corporations and Entrepreneurship Conference 2011 is the inaugural annual conference hosted by UWA's Centre for Social Impact (CSI), within the Business School.
Danielle Nazzari, Social Consulting Services Manager, WorleyParsons, said there were many different ways Indigenous entities could participate in joint ventures, including in the mining and resources industry.
"The three key elements of a successful joint venture are: ability [of the joint venture] to resource the project; sustainability - there are probably not too many Indigenous businesses looking for engineering or procurement work; and commitment to skills transfer at all levels."
Nazzari said companies, primary contractors and Indigenous entities should develop a capability plan to ensure all parties had clear expectations.
Nazzari added all parties had to put hard issues on the table, such as agreeing on a dispute resolution process before embarking on a joint project.
Rosie Southwood, Manager Aboriginal Affairs, Wesfarmers, said while many Australian companies had Reconciliation Action Plans and had been on "a few dates" with Indigenous business, they were "yet to go steady".
Southwood outlined the ways Wesfarmers supported Indigenous business and suppliers such as Collie Valley Marron and Outback Spirit.
Kimberley Kohan, Principal Advisor Aboriginal Business Development, Rio Tinto, described how companies could support Indigenous suppliers.
She said Rio Tinto used practical methods of increasing Indigenous supplier contracts, including holding regular supplier forums, providing information and practical feedback to Indigenous suppliers, using shorter payment terms, and breaking down large contracts into those of a suitable size for start-up businesses.
"We work with our non-Indigenous suppliers and encourage them to work with Indigenous contractors," said Kohan. "We don't have all the solutions yet but we're moving in the right direction."
The Centre for Social Impact (UWA) is a joint venture between The University of Western Australia's Business School and the national Centre for Social Impact.
Sonia Nolan, Community Engagement and (+61 8) 6488 8562 / (+61 4) 01 034 103
Corporate Affairs Manager, Centre for Social Impact
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783
CRICOS Code: 00126G