“It is a showcase of our Indigenous businesses that are employing, creating, disrupting, and getting on with business across the country. The power of the Indigenous economy is something to be recognised and leveraged.”—Ken Markwell, Executive General Manager of Indigenous Services at Australian Unity.
- Indigenous Business Month celebrates the outstanding contribution made by Indigenous businesses to the fabric of Australia’s economy and society.
- At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indigenous business Position Promo made a rapid pivot to supply Australian Unity and other businesses with personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Australian Unity is committed to supplier diversity through identifying and fostering mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
Each October, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses come together to celebrate and promote their achievements as part of Indigenous Business Month, with this year’s theme being Powering the Indigenous Economy.
Indigenous Business Month showcases the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and provides role models to inspire businesses and people across Australia.
It is also an important time to reflect on the contribution made by Indigenous businesses to the fabric of Australia’s economy and society.
Australian Unity is committed to supplier diversity through identifying and fostering mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander businesses.
In the past three years, more than $6m has been spent with Indigenous suppliers and the supplier base has steadily grown to see engagement with almost 50 suppliers annually.
Strong relationships enable Australian Unity to engage and actively build capabilities with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander businesses, leading to positive social and economic outcomes.
Mununjhali man and Executive General Manager of Indigenous Services at Australian Unity, Ken Markwell, said Powering the Indigenous Economy was an acknowledgment of the socio-economic contribution these businesses make to Australia.
“It is a showcase of our Indigenous businesses that are employing, creating, disrupting, and getting on with business across the country,” Mr Markwell said.
“The power of the Indigenous economy is something to be recognised and leveraged.”
Creating opportunities to thrive
Consistent with its commitment to Reconciliation, in recent years Australian Unity has sought to develop meaningful and impactful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their communities and Indigenous businesses.
Mr Markwell said that through its Reconciliation Action Plan, the company prioritised expenditure with Indigenous businesses and social enterprises that offered employment opportunities to those who may otherwise be excluded.
“Our spend with First Nation businesses includes suppliers of construction services, marketing and event management, office supplies, landscaping and medical supplies,” Mr Markwell said.
“In the last financial year, we engaged 48 Indigenous enterprises and spent $1.8 million with Indigenous businesses.”
Australian Unity also remains the largest private employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the aged and disability sector in New South Wales, with all the Indigenous Services executive team and most of its 300-plus workforce identifying as Aboriginal
“We will continue to expand our engagement with Indigenous enterprise by supporting financial wellbeing and enabling greater investment into Indigenous businesses and communities,” Mr Markwell says.
An Indigenous success story
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, an Indigenous-owned business was at the forefront of keeping people safe.
Position Promo was instrumental in supporting Australian Unity, especially during the initial stages of the pandemic when there was a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
In a rapid pivot, the company shifted from promotional materials to source PPE, which was then directly shipped to Australian Unity storage hubs and distribution locations.
With a team of six already located in China when the pandemic hit, Position Promo was able to quickly move from their regular promotional merchandise range into PPE-specific items.
Position Promo then worked with Australian Unity to obtain a reliable volume of supply of PPE items, by holding stock and working to provide aged care residences with PPE supplies.
Warren Dick, General Manager Procurement and Property Management for Australian Unity, says Position Promo’s ability to innovate at a crucial time was invaluable for Australian Unity’s staff and customers, particularly at aged care residences.
“It’s been a very positive outcome of this shift,” he says. “And it’s been extremely helpful as an alternate supplier to incumbent suppliers who either couldn’t supply or raised their prices to make it commercially unviable.
“It’s very important to continue our support of these types of businesses–it is the way that the gap will be closed to economic participation, which has many social, health and education benefits amongst others.
“This kind of partnership runs hand-in-hand with our values and commitment to our Reconciliation Action Plan.”
Nic Yeomans, General Manager of Position Promo, says the partnerships with Australian Unity has been highly rewarding because it creates real social impact.
“The sales created from the relationship result in a percentage of every single order going into the Position Promo social impact fund,” he says. “From there the funds are invested into various projects that create social impact for Indigenous people.”
“Basically, the work we have been doing with Australian Unity is in a nutshell our vision. We supply the best price and product to companies and government agencies in Australia to create a social bi-product and deliver tangible and measurable social impact for Aboriginal people.
“We’re so thrilled with Australian Unity because they have taken the time to listen to our proposition, review our quotes and ultimately award work. This is our challenge – to get this opportunity with other corporates and government agencies – if we can do this we will win our share of work and the social impact fund will continue to build.”
Our commitment to reconciliation
Australian Unity is committed to supplier diversity through identifying and fostering mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and social enterprises. Strong relationships enable our business to engage and actively build capabilities within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and social enterprises across Australia leading to positive social and economic outcomes.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan affirms our commitment to building strong and respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and businesses.
The RAP outlines key actions across the business that provide practical support in progressing reconciliation in Australian Unity and the broader community. These key actions are underpinned by the guiding principles of Relationships, Respect and Opportunities.
To download our RAP, click here.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is of a general nature. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.