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More than 200 employers and contractors attend Mid West’s first Aboriginal Business Forum

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Darren Brockman, Jarrad Oakley Nichols, Lara Dalton, Luka Grey, Tony Buti and Alannah MacTiernan at the Aboriginal Business Forum.
Camera IconDarren Brockman, Jarrad Oakley Nichols, Lara Dalton, Luka Grey, Tony Buti and Alannah MacTiernan at the Aboriginal Business Forum. Credit: Phoebe Pin

More than 200 people from Mid West Aboriginal businesses, State agency buyers, and local industry attended a region-first forum aimed at connecting Indigenous jobseekers with contractors.

Held at Queens Park Theatre, the Aboriginal Business Forum explored ways to reduce high unemployment rates for Indigenous people in the Mid West and showcase the achievements of Aboriginal businesses in the region.

It also marked the signing of a $5 million agreement between the State Government and Yamatji Southern Regional Corporation to develop a dedicated unit to help Aboriginal people and companies embrace business opportunities.

Speaking from the forum on Thursday, Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan said the agreement and business forum indicated there were “enormous opportunities” for Aboriginal businesses to thrive in the Mid West.

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“This event is an excellent opportunity for the Aboriginal business sector, and the Aboriginal community more broadly, to secure work on local and government projects,” she said.

“Aboriginal business owners are really leading the way and showing that we can move beyond this problem we have with Aboriginal unemployment by having the leaders in the community step up and create their own business opportunities.”

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tony Buti said the forum reinforced the Aboriginal Procurement Policy, which requires agencies and contractors to meet employment and subcontracting targets.

He said 92 contracts worth a combined $68m have been awarded to Aboriginal businesses in the Mid West since the policy’s introduction three years ago.

“People are just really excited about the opportunity at last to have targets set by government that they can pitch for,” he said.

“In recent years we’ve witnessed registered Indigenous suppliers grow from their hundreds into their thousands, highlighting the enormous potential for this rapidly growing sector.”

The business forum was presented by the Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yamatji Southern Regional Corporation, government agencies and local industry.

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