Pacific Services Group Holdings (PSGH) is honoured to be providing services to one of Australia’s most well known and respected organisations, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Working together in fulfilment of the objectives of the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy, PSGH and CSIRO are making a genuine difference in the lives of Indigenous people.

A key part of this relationship is the cleaning contract for CSIRO’s premises in WA, NT and SA. Starting in February 2016, it is a three year contract with an option for a further three years based on performance. Covering seven sites with a total of over 50 000 square metres in area, requiring a total of 85 person-hours cleaning per day, PSGH has employed 29 staff for these roles, of whom 14 are Aboriginal Australians. In addition, PSGH has entered into a sub-contract arrangement with a local Indigenous-owned company for one of the sites (Geraldton), which has employed two Aboriginal people to clean that site, resulting in 16 out of 31 staff on the contract being Aboriginal people, or a ratio of over 50% Indigenous employment. When one considers that Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders make up around 3% of Australia’s population, and less than 2% of the workforce, this result is an outstanding achievement. And CSIRO has been highly impressed with the results. “The PSGH cleaners have done an outstanding job across the board”, said James Abbott, CSIRO’s Executive Manager Property for the three states concerned. “They have been thorough, responsive and great to work with. The implementation of the contract was smooth and professional – it’s been a pleasure working with PSGH”.

A feature of the PSGH team at the CSIRO Adelaide site is Aboriginal mother and daughter combination Tammy and Tarni Smith. A single mum, Tammy had been unemployed for some years prior to joining PSGH. Juggling work and family responsibilities can be difficult, which makes the hours involved in the cleaning role attractive for people like Tammy. “I’m just so grateful for the opportunity; for Adam [Beckett] seeing something in us and taking a chance. I’ve still got a smile on my face for having a job, and every night when I go into work I’m smiling. All the CSIRO people I’ve met while cleaning have been really friendly and welcoming”, she said.

For her daughter Tarni – who’s recently moved out of home – the shifts she shares with her mum give them the opportunity to spend time together. Tarni, who completed the HSC in 2015, has recently been exploring her Aboriginal heritage, undertaking studies in the Pitjantjatjara language. She is taking a break from her childcare studies but is planning to return to study, which her cleaning shifts would allow her to do. Tammy and Tarni are impressing the PSGH hierarchy too. “They were both a bit shy at first” said PSGH’s National Operations Manager Adam Beckett. “But they are turning out to be stars. They have a great future at PSGH”. As a sign of PSGH’s confidence in Tarni’s future, she has been selected to undertake first aid training for the company, which will be delivered by another Indigenous owned company, Integrity Health and Safety.

Across town at the CSIRO Waite Campus, Aboriginal brother and sister David and Caitlyn Weetera also form part of the PSGH cleaning team, and their younger brother Jayden has also joined recently. David and Caitlyn take pride in their work, and are excited by the opportunity to work with PSGH.

Mark Wallis, CSIRO’s General Manager of Infrastructure and Business Services, sees that the partnership with PSGH is helping fulfil the broader aims of the Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy. “Our partnership with PSGH is delivering to a high standard and providing strong Indigenous employment and economic outcomes which the policy is designed to deliver. So we not only get great service, but our procurement activities result in genuine social benefit – all for money we were going to spend anyway” said Mr Wallis.

PSGH co-owner and proud Wiradjuri man Troy Rugless agrees. “This concept of ‘anyway money’ – empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people without expending additional taxpayer funds – is vital” Troy said. “What is making a difference is that we are hiring Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to do real jobs for real customers through procurement opportunities like this. These aren’t handouts or ‘job creation’ schemes that stop as soon as the taxpayer handout stops. These are jobs which give our mob genuine opportunities to advance themselves, and break the cycle of dependency”. The SA, NT and WA cleaning contract is only a part of CSIRO’s commitment to Indigenous procurement, according to Mr Wallis. CSIRO are partnering with PSGH to provide services to the Australian Square Kilometre Array (ASKAP) Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. CSIRO’s goal is for PSGH to mentor and develop local Indigenous businesses to engage for services. “Our experience with PSGH has been extremely positive, and we are actively looking for other opportunities to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander companies” he said.

PSGH CEO Mark Coleman supports his client looking for opportunities to engage other Indigenous Businesses, even if they are competitors to PSGH. “PSGH has been very fortunate to have opportunities with great customers like CSIRO, who have been prepared to proactively explore and engage in the spirit of the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement policy” Mark said. “But we want other Indigenous-owned businesses to have some of the opportunities we have had, to increase the opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to benefit from Government procurement”.