Definition of an Indigenous business

Indigenous AffairsEconomic DevelopmentIndigenous Procurement Policy
Monday, 26 November 2018
Publication author(s):
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Publication abstract:

The Indigenous Procurement Policy defines an Indigenous business as one that is at least 50 per cent owned by an Indigenous person or people. The definition recognises that in some family businesses just one member of a couple is Indigenous and that private sector investment is critical to support growth of the Indigenous business sector.

Definition of an Indigenous-owned business

The Indigenous Procurement Policy defines an Indigenous business as one that is at least 50 per cent owned by an Indigenous person or people. The definition recognises that in some family businesses just one member of a couple is Indigenous and that private sector investment is critical to support growth of the Indigenous business sector.

The Australian Government defines an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person as someone who:

  • Is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
  • Identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
  • Is recognised as such by his or her community.

Confirming a business is Indigenous-owned

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet contracts Supply Nation to maintain a registry of Indigenous businesses that meet the Australian Government definition.

The procurement officer must confirm if the business is Indigenous owned at the beginning of the procurement process. It is important, especially for lengthy procurement processes, that the Indigenous status of the businesses is re-confirmed at the time of contracting.

Supply Nation's process for registering Indigenous-owned businesses

To register with Supply Nation, the business owner must provide a Confirmation letter of Aboriginality or Torres Strait Islander descent from a recognised institution. This letter must include two referees. Recognised institutions include but are not limited to Indigenous Land Councils, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Corporations and Prescribed Bodies Corporate.

In extenuating circumstances, Supply Nation may accept a signed Supply Nation confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent form. This form must include two referees from recognised Indigenous organisations or organisations deemed by Supply Nation to have the public standing and credibility to attest to the veracity of an individual’s claim to be of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.

This Supply Nation confirmation form is a legally binding statutory declaration. False or misleading statements are punishable under section 136 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (Cth). Detailed information can be found in the terms and conditions section at Supply Nation.

Checking Indigenous ownership for businesses that are not listed with Supply Nation

The procuring officer must take steps to assure themselves that the business is 50 per cent or more Indigenous owned. This may include confirming registration with an Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, seeking a statutory declaration or a letter of Indigeneity from organisations such as land councils.

Indigenous corporations registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations are accepted as an Indigenous business for the IPP.

Supply Nation's complaint process

Supply Nation and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet are committed to ensuring the integrity of Indigenous Business Direct. Businesses on Supply Nation’s register are subject to a verification and audit programme, which includes a complaints process.

Sensitivities around Indigineity

The issue of Indigenous heritage is sensitive and can be contentious. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) may investigate claims of false Indigenous heritage and require compensation to be paid to those that have been impacted by the illegal behaviour.

It is also important to note that Indigenous businesses may lodge defamation claims against organisations/people that have made public claims that they have derived a benefit.

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