For over 25 years Coleman Rail has had involvement in (the delivery of) large-scale rail and infrastructure construction projects around Australia. Legislative and policy changes have seen an evolution in our approach to building capacity, using social procurement initiatives to achieve best practice outcomes in delivery.
We have collaborated with a number of Small/Medium Enterprise suppliers to maximise opportunities and/or impact. It may seem like business as usual to some, however the Rail environment poses many barriers to entry; If understanding the transactional nature of the procurement activity is the driver for success, then our collaborative and educational approach seeks to support SMEs and social benefit providers to maximise opportunities for inclusion and growth.
A recent example of our approach has seen successful outcomes with Monaro Formwork and Construction, a target SME. In less than 12 months and with positive guidance, incubation and support, a new indigenous business has been established, registered and is currently undergoing certification with Supply Nation. Outcomes from Monaro Formwork contributed to over 3% of project expenditure on a recent project and the company is now on track to continue to grow and engage indigenous apprentices during 2017. The life changing opportunities that lie ahead for Monaro and similar businesses providing sustainable social outcomes are unprecedented.
It is imperative that social procurement strategies are built out of a shared dialogue between Government, industry and all relevant stakeholders – communicating clear and sustainable ideas/solutions. The importance of communication within the purchasing function and with suppliers or subcontractors should not be underestimated.
As an industry, we continue to pioneer ways to create the positive environment needed to ensure the gestation of social procurement. The role of change champions and entrepreneurs within the industry and Government should be to drive the continued growth and development of social procurement initiatives to achieve sustainable outcomes for those wanting a hand up, not hand out.