The Indigenous Opportunities Policy (IOP) FAQs

SUPPLIERS TO GOVERNMENT

How do I know if my company will need a DEEWR approved Indigenous Australian Training, Employment and Supplier Plan (IOP Plan)?

The Australian Government’s Approach to Market documentation will indicate as to whether applicants will need a DEEWR approved IOP Plan. Alternatively an organisation can voluntary prepare an IOP Plan and submit it for approval in anticipation that it is likely to win contracts valued over $5M ($6M for construction) that will involve activity in a region with a significant Indigenous population.

What is a region with a significant Indigenous population?

For the purpose of the IOP, regions with a significant Indigenous Australian population are those Indigenous areas (as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics) where the proportion of Indigenous people is higher than the national average (2.5 per cent – 2006 Census). Maps of regions with a significant Indigenous population can be found at: (www.deewr.gov.au/Indigenous/Employment/Pages/significantpopulationregions.aspx)

How do I develop an IOP Plan for our company?

IOP Plan must be submitted to, and approved by, DEEWR using the MyPlan system. The MyPlan information management system has been specially designed to facilitate the development of plans through an easy to use IOP Plan Template. To register visit the MyPlan website at: https://ecsn.gov.au/iop/Account.aspx/LogOn?ReturnUrl=%2fIOP%2fhome.aspx.

If you have any questions on developing or submitting an IOP Plan contact DEEWR by emailing iop@deewr.gov.au.

Why is DEEWR involved in my contract that is with another Australian Government Department?

DEEWR is the owner of the Australian Government’s Indigenous Opportunities Policy. This Policy interacts with all Australian Government procurement activities, not just DEEWR procurement activity. As DEEWR has expertise in Indigenous employment and training we will lead the approval of plans and the monitoring of their implementation and outcomes. DEEWR will not be directly involved in the other agencies contract management process. We will provide information to agencies if a contractor’s IOP Plan has been suspended. Management of situations where IOP Plans have been suspended will be done by contract managers within the relevant agency not by DEEWR.

I am offered a contract variation which takes the total value of my contract to over $5 million do I need to a have an IOP Plan in place?

The Australian Government agency managing the contract will inform you if you are required to have an IOP Plan. Generally however, if the original value of the contract was under $5M ($6M for construction) then it is unlikely that you will be required to have a Plan in place.

Do I have to have an IOP Plan for each contract I have which is worth over $5 million?

If you have multiple contracts where the IOP applies you do not need a separate plan for each of these contracts. A single IOP Plan will suffice, however a local implementation plan that accommodates the specifics of each contract and region is recommended. DEEWR offers support for implementing plans locally. You can also email (iop@deewr.gov.au) for support.

I intend to apply the actions set out in the IOP Plan to each of my three contracts; do I need to report separately for each contract?

Yes. The annual reporting template allows you to report on one or more contracts in the same form and you are required to report on activities against each specific contract. Where the activity cuts across all the contracts then you can repeat reporting on this activity against each contract.

I have never employed Indigenous Australians before and I don’t know whether I need to do anything special?

There are a number of resources available to assist you with ensuring that your recruitment and retention strategies for Indigenous Australians are culturally appropriate. A sample of these resources is listed at: www.deewr.gov.au/iop. You can also email iop@deewr.gov.au for assistance.

The industry sector I work in is a very specialised area and I’ve never heard of any Indigenous Australians working in the field, do I need to have an IOP Plan?

Yes, if the ATM or contract documents say that you need an IOP Plan. Indigenous Australians are trained and employed in a range of fields and industries. If there are a shortage of Indigenous Australians in your field remember, IOP Plans are also about the creation of training and employment pathways and utilisation of Indigenous businesses.

My company regularly wins large government contacts but we manage this with our existing staff and resources. Do I have to have an IOP Plan?

Yes, if the Approach to Market contract documents say that you have to have an IOP Plan.

I’ve looked for an Indigenous business to support my contract but I can’t find one. What should I do?

Membership of Supply Nation its member’s access to Certified Indigenous businesses. Supply Nation provides an essential link between purchasers and sellers by:

Certifying Indigenous businesses as majority Indigenous owned controlled and managedGiving members access to Supply Nation certified Indigenous businesses when making buying decisionsAssisting its members to adapt their procurement processes to include Indigenous suppliers.

If you can provide evidence that you made real attempts to locate a relevant Indigenous business to support your contract, including utilising existing Indigenous business directories listed at www.deewr.gov.au/iop, then DEEWR will consider that you have met your obligations for this element of your plan.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

Who needs to apply the Indigenous Opportunities Policy?

All FMA Agencies (www.finance.gov.au/financial-framework/fma-legislation/fma-agencies.html). These are Australian Government Agencies subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1997.

In addition, all businesses tendering for projects that the Policy is applicable to will need to comply by developing and obtaining approval for an IOP Plan using the MyPlan (https://ecsn.gov.au/iop/Account.aspx/LogOn?ReturnUrl=%2fIOP%2fhome.aspx) system.

Does my agency need to apply the Indigenous Opportunities policy?

If you are a FMA Agencies conducting an approach to market that is likely to result in a contract worth over $5 million ($6 million for construction) and the predominate activity will be in a region(s) where there is a significant Indigenous populations you will need to apply the Indigenous Opportunities Policy.

Is the Agency managing the contract that is responsible for ensuring the contractor complies with the requirements of the Indigenous Opportunities Policy?

No. The agency managing the contract can choose to monitor the contractor’s implementation of its IOP Plan, however DEEWR will be monitoring this through the contractor’s annual IOP implementation and outcomes report to DEEWR. DEEWR will inform an agency when a contractor is found to be non-compliant. The agency can then decide how to act on this non-compliance.

What is a region with a significant Indigenous population?

For the purposes of the Indigenous Opportunities Policy, a ‘region with a significant Indigenous population’ is one in which the proportion of Indigenous people in the region is equal to or higher than the national average of 2.5 per cent. These regions are determined using the most recent Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Maps of regions with significant Indigenous populations (www.deewr.gov.au/Indigenous/Employment/Pages/significantpopulationregions.aspx) have been developed to assist agencies determine whether the Policy should apply.

What if a project occurs in multiple regions?

Where a project occurs across a number of regions tenderers are only obliged to implement the IOP Plan in the region(s) with a significant Indigenous population. However, tenderers can choose to apply the IOP Plan to the project as a whole.

For example, a contractor delivering services both in the Australian Capital Territory and Queanbeyan would only be obliged to implement their IOP Plan in Queanbeyan as a region with a significant Indigenous population. For the sake of practicality they may choose to implement the Plan in both Queanbeyan and the ACT. Remember, if you are in doubt DEEWR will be happy to advice you and can be contacted by emailing iop@deewr.gov.au.

What if the region of activity is unknown during the planning stages of the project?

In some instances Agencies will not be able to anticipate the region(s) in which a project will be undertaken. The agency can choose to apply the Indigenous Opportunities Policy prior to the execution of the contract or include establishment of a DEEWR approved IOP Plan as a contractual requirement.

This means that the successful bidder (if the contract is over $5 M and in a region with a significant Indigenous population) will be required to have a DEEWR approved plan before the contract is executed or within a time specified in the contract. These options should be indicated in their Approach to Market documentation. Model text and clauses for this approach are provided in the IOP Guidelines (www.deewr.gov.au/Indigenous/Employment/Pages/IndigOpportunitiesPolicy.aspx).

When tendering to provide a good/service in multiple Indigenous regions across Australia, are tenderers required to develop an IOP Plan for each specific location?

No. Once an organisation has a DEEWR-approved IOP Plan it is applicable for any projects to which the IOP applies (provided the IOP Plan remains current). IOP Plans are generic in nature and will be applicable to a range of projects an organisation may wish to undertake. Organisations are encouraged to tailor their IOP Plan for individual projects or regions. DEEWR will provide support and advice on how to do this.

Does our Agency need to contact DEEWR if we are planning an Approach to Market that the IOP may apply to?

No. In order to reduce red tape and expedite procurement processes an agency will have consulted with DEEWR if it has reviewed the materials on the IOP website. This information is designed to ensure that Agencies are making decision on whether the Policy does, or does not, apply using the most recent information.

If an Agency has reviewed the information and is still uncertain about whether the IOP applies they should contact DEEWR. DEEWR will also be able to provide advice to Agencies about consulting other bodies that could assist with the planning stages of a project.

Why has DEEWR used a $6 million threshold for construction? Is it intended to align to the 'Covered Procurement' definition thresholds in the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (CPGs) for construction which was previously $6 million but has been increased to $9 million?

The monetary threshold in the revised Indigenous Opportunities Policy reflects that of the previous version of the Indigenous Opportunities Policy. As COAG agreed to strengthen current procurement policies, revision of the Policy focused on ensuring the existing Policy was made more workable, had broad application and was more likely to achieve real change. Raising the monetary threshold to reflect that in the CPGs would not have broadened the base of the Policy.

Do agencies have to apply the Indigenous Opportunities Policy to procurement activities undertaken overseas?

No. Agencies are not required to apply the Indigenous Opportunities Policy if the procurement activity occurs outside of Australia.

Where and how has the Indigenous Opportunities Policy been enhanced?

There are two significant changes to the enhanced Indigenous Opportunities Policy:

  1. The first change broadens the application of the Policy to all regions with significant Indigenous populations. The previous Policy was limited to regions with significant Indigenous populations and limited employment and training opportunities.
  2. Businesses tendering for projects of $5 million (or $6 million in construction) or more in regions with significant Indigenous populations will now need to develop Indigenous Training, Employment and Supplier Plans (IOP Plan).

Where can I go for further advice about applying the Indigenous Opportunities Policy?

For more information and advice about applying the Indigenous Opportunities Policy email: iop@deewr.gov.au.