Supply Nation Supports Indigenous Procurement Policy Reform to Address Black Cladding in Australia

December 21, 2023

Amidst Australia’s bustling economy, a silent challenge against ‘black cladding’ is being addressed. Supply Nation stands at the forefront, endorsing significant reform in the Indigenous Procurement Policy to ensure First Nations businesses are rightfully recognised and respected. 

Understanding Black Cladding

The Facade Uncovered
In Australia’s dynamic business environment, ‘black cladding’ has surfaced as a complex challenge. This deceptive practice, where businesses only superficially represent First Nations ownership, diverts crucial opportunities away from genuine First Nations enterprises. Understanding this issue is essential, as it directly impacts the empowerment and progress of First Nations communities.

Real Impact on First Nations Communities
The effects of black cladding ripple through the core of community and culture, not just business. The Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP), a beacon of progress, aims to support First Nations enterprise, thereby uplifting the broader aspects of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. However, black cladding hinders these goals, often leaving First Nations business owners without the promised growth and participation. Supply Nation upholds business integrity with clear ownership criteria, aligned with Federal and State Government policies, to counteract such practices.

The Present Crossroads in Policy Reform
Now, at a crucial juncture, Supply Nation’s advocacy for policy reform represents a significant stride toward systemic change. The proposed shift from 50% to 51% First Nations ownership, including management and control, is more than a numerical tweak, it’s a step toward genuine equity in the business landscape.

The Role of Business in First Nations Autonomy
Business is a vital player in this pursuit of autonomy. First Nations enterprises are not merely economic ventures, they are also cultural and community pillars. Their success shapes a narrative where First Nations Australians can craft their economic empowerment.

Economic Drivers of Change
The transformation of policy into practical empowerment is driven by economic change. When First Nations businesses prosper, they do more than generate revenue, they create jobs, establish partnerships, and reinforce the economic pillars of their communities. These businesses become powerful vehicles for change, disrupting entrenched systems and reshaping the economic narrative for First Nations peoples in Australia.

What’s Changing and Why It Matters
The Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) has been a beacon of growth for First Nations businesses. However, as with any pioneering policy, the time comes for introspection and refinement. The proposed reform is not just an alteration in percentage points, it’s a recalibration towards greater equity and authenticity in business ownership and management.

By shifting the definition of a First Nations business from ‘50% owned’ to ‘51% owned, managed, and controlled’, the policy tightens its criteria to ensure that First Nations people are not only nominal owners but are actively involved in the strategic direction and daily operations of the business.

The Transition Plan for Businesses
Embracing change in policy requires a thoughtful and structured transition plan for the businesses it impacts. The plan is envisaged to unfold in phases, providing guidance, resources, and support to meet the updated requirements. This will involve clear communication of the changes, timelines for compliance, and support mechanisms to help businesses adjust their structures where necessary.

For some, this may mean seeking new partnerships or adjusting existing ones. For others, it might involve training to build the capacity of First Nations managers and leaders within their businesses.

Corporate Conscience and Compliance
The landscape of corporate Australia is changing, with an increased emphasis on the dual pillars of conscience and compliance. Ethical frameworks are no longer nice to haves but must haves, guiding fair business practices and ensuring that corporate behaviour aligns with societal values, particularly in relation to First Nations businesses.

Ethical Frameworks for Fair Business
Fair business is not just about following the law, it’s about setting a standard that respects cultural heritage and promotes equity. Ethical frameworks help corporations navigate complex socio economic environments, ensuring that their operations enhance, rather than exploit, the communities they engage with.

Collaborative Pathways to Success
Success in this area is not the work of a single entity but the result of collaboration across sectors. Building bridges between First Nations and non First Nations businesses, government bodies, and communities is essential.

As we conclude this discussion, it becomes evident that the endorsement of the Indigenous Procurement Policy reform by Supply Nation represents a profound commitment to justice and equality. This is not simply an adjustment of policy but a resonant call for the rightful acknowledgment and support of First Nations businesses in Australia. These reforms are critical steps in bridging the disparities that exist and in fostering an environment where First Nations communities can thrive with autonomy and economic empowerment.


What exactly is black cladding, and why is it significant?
Black cladding occurs when a business inaccurately portrays First Nations ownership to unjustly secure contracts intended for First Nations enterprises. This practice undermines the movement toward equitable opportunities and diminishes the integrity vital to a fair business environment.

How does the proposed reform empower First Nations businesses?
The reform redefines First Nations business ownership to necessitate a majority stake of 51% and introduces essential elements of management and control. This change empowers First Nations business owners with more decisive authority and engagement, ensuring they are true leaders rather than just nominal shareholders.

How can individuals and organisations support First Nations businesses?
Support can be shown by partnering with and purchasing from First Nations businesses that have been verified for genuine ownership and operation. Advocacy and spreading awareness also play a crucial role, as each recommendation enhances the visibility and influence of these businesses.

What impact does supporting First Nations businesses have on the Australian economy?
Investing in First Nations businesses propels economic growth and sparks innovation. It cultivates a diverse and inclusive marketplace enriched by the unique insights and skills of First Nations entrepreneurs, which in turn generates employment and broadens economic prosperity throughout Australia. 

How can I actively participate in the Indigenous Procurement Policy reform process?
Your contribution is essential in shaping the future of the Indigenous Procurement Policy. Here’s how you can get involved before the consultation closes on 1 March 2024. Directly send your feedback to the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) at [email protected]. Every piece of input is valuable and will contribute to ensuring the reforms address the needs of First Nations communities and businesses.

The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only and it is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice.


AMK Law acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are fortunate to live and work. We pay our respects to Elders, both past and present and further acknowledge the important role that Indigenous people continue to play within our communities.


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