An interesting convergence – Indigenous Participation and International Development

Way back when I used to work in the International Development sector (the Australian effort – DFAT / AusAID). I worked in a project management capacity ie in the Australian head offices of managing contractors, running projects in South Africa and PNG…coordination, not doing the technical delivery. I seriously envied the technical experts that I was sourcing, contracting and sending overseas to do this work. CFOs, judges, teachers…you name it.

Through my career I have developed technical expertise in particular areas. In recent times this has been picked up on by non-Australian Aid & Development programs (eg DFID – UK Aid) in Africa. And it has been thoroughly enjoyable to now work on the technical design and delivery side, not just coordination.

Now for the convergence.

My work in Australia is all around Indigenous economic development.

Since 2015 I have been tracking and advocating around the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (see articles from previous few years). EVERY federal agency that procures or contracts has been gradually lining itself up alongside the policy (how great was it to see the recent Supply Nation expo in Canberra attended by buyers from various government agencies).

DFAT / AusAID is one of those Federal agencies. So I have been sitting back to see what would unfold within it…Indigenous stationary suppliers, or technical delivery services?…it’s a big spectrum!

So it was awesome to see an Indigenous Queensland business recently get subcontracted to a managing contractor in this space. And in a technical delivery capacity! To see Australia’s…one of the world’s oldest cultures…now providing technical delivery to Australia’s overseas aid program, providing benefit to other cultures, is just fantastic.

Yesterday I attended a DFAT / AusAID supplier briefing. I came loaded with probing questions on how this agency was approaching the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Procurement Policy.

Well….they certainly beat me to the punch! The Indigenous participation topic DOMINATED what the facilitators had prepared for delivery over 2 hours in what was a GENERAL supplier briefing.

My consultancy is not Indigenous owned but I was smiling from ear to ear. And the gold was that the room was full of the big non-Indigenous Managing Contractors (that normally win the larger AusAID contracts) and a plethora of smaller businesses that normally sub to them.

As a contracts & procurement guy, it was music to my ears to hear DFAT talk about needing to see evidence of tenderers addressing this topic comprehensively, not just in responding to the scope of a tender, but a corporate – business wide level.

Given BlueSkyEDs experience in Indigenous Participation AND International Development, I see many potential synergies between BlueSkyED and the upper tier contractors in the industry to work this space hard and well. Get in touch if you are one of them, recognise what is occurring, and want to get and stay on the front of this permanent wave.