Category Archives: Human Resources

Hints and Tips to help you and your business on employment, management, staff motivation, employee productivity, employment regulation and other employment related matters.

What is an Indigenous Business? The Many Definitions Are Confusing

Indigenous Business 50% or 51%
Indigenous Business 50% or 51%

So one would think that there would be a standard definition of what is an Indigenous business. Well unfortunately there is no single definition in Australia that is legislated as to what defines an Indigenous business. This creates much confusion for those wanting to seek out an Indigenous business as a supplier or to meet their contractual requirements such as under the Indigenous Opportunity Policy (IOP).

So before we go any further lets first clarify the definition of an ‘Indigenous’ person. Australia considers an Indigenous Australian to be someone who is

So what defines an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person? We will use the Australian Bureau of Statistics definition adopted from Australian legislation. I have highlighted the key words

  • a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent,
  • who identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin and
  • who is accepted as such by the community with which the person associates”.

So lets begin with the first definition that was around with Indigenous Business Australia (IBA). IBA has the following criteria for a business to be identified as being an Indigenous business.

  • at least one applicant must be of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent
  • at least 50 per cent of the ownership of your business must be by a person(s) of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.

Okay, so IBA, a Federal Government agency, uses the definition that an Indigenous business is at least 50% owned.

We now go to Supply Nation, who provides ‘certification’ for being an Indigenous business. There definition is as follows to be a certified supplier or Indigenous business

  • Ownership – at least 51 per cent ownership of the company by an Indigenous Australian(s).
  • Management – the company is led / managed by a Principal Executive Officer who is an Indigenous Australian.
  • Control – the key business decisions regarding the company’s finances, operations, personnel and strategy are made by an Indigenous Australian(s).
  • For profit – the company is able to distribute its equity to members.
  • *Trading as a business – with a minimum annual revenue of $50,000.00 and a demonstrated recent history of trade (ideally, at least 6 months trade history).
    *If your business has low turnover (less than $50k) or is a start up (no trade history), then please refer to the Emerging Supplier section.
  • Business is located in Australia

So Supply Nation uses the definition as being at least 51% owned. This is important to know as Supply Nation (formerly known as Australian Indigenous Minority Suppliers Council (AIMSC)) is listed in the Indigenous Opportunity Policy as a reference point for Indigenous business.

So who else has a definition? Well the Queensland Government has its Black Business Finder (BBF) which is used by the Industry Capability Network (ICN) for contractors to source Indigenous businesses for major contracts. Note, that in order to be eligible to tender and work on these major projects, you have to be registered with ICN. So, Indigenous businesses are required to be listed for identification on the BBF. So BBF has for its definition

“Businesses defined as an Indigenous business are:

  • a majority-owned Indigenous business.
  • a 50% owned Indigenous business.

A non-Indigenous business that employees at least 75% of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander workers is eligible to register on Black Business Finder.”

Confused yet?! The Black Business Finder, which is required to be used by major contractors to source Indigenous businesses includes in its listings businesses that have 75% Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander workers. Do we need to go further as to what the definition of “75% workers” is? Does it mean 75% of the workforce? 75% of total wages? 75% wages/workers for the year? 75% of the wages/workers for the project life? This begins to create more questions then it answers. It is especially confusing for a company contractually bound by the IOP to source Indigenous businesses and they are required to use this register, yet they are not assured by the register the business meets the IOP requirements.

So are only government organisations limited to having different definitions? The short answer is no!
At the time of writing I am unable to find the membership application for Aboriginal Enterprise in Mining, Energy and Exploration (AEMEE) to locate their definition. But their historic position on being an Indigenous business was that if you say you are an Indigenous business, then you are accepted to be so.

Pilbarra Aboriginal Contractors Association (PACA) in their Review of Contractual Arrangements Between Australian Aboriginal Enterprises and the Resource Industry (2010) identified 25% ownership as their definition of being an Indigenous business.

In conclusion, there needs to be a single legislated definition of an Indigenous business. I sympathise with those organisations that are seeking Indigenous businesses but have to battle with this definition. In my opinion in a professional capacity, I see the definition of 50% Indigenous owned as being the best step forward. I see this as the opportunity for Indigenous business to grow through 50/50 joint ventures or partnerships. Think of the number of husband and wife partnership businesses where one is non Indigenous. Once there is an adequate and stable supply of Indigenous business that meet the requirements of capability and capacity to service corporate and government procurement, then there can be a transition to the 51% definition.

The employment percentage, to me, does not stand as an adequate definition as this is subjective and can be easily manipulated. If we used the definition of whether a company in Australia was an Australian business using the employee as a definition, then the majority of companies owned by overseas owners would be classified as being Australian owned because they employ Australian workers. Ownership is shareholding, not employment.

Please note I use organisations and their definitions as examples of where there is no consistency in defining an Indigenous business. At the time of writing, I myself am a member and Director of the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce (SEQICC) that uses the Supply Nation definition of 51%, but also a member and President of the Indigenous Construction Group Australia (ICGA) that uses the Indigenous Business Australia definition of 50%. When I am asked what is the definition of an Indigenous business, what would be my answer?

*UPDATE: On the 31st July 2014 the “Forrest Review” by Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest on Indigenous Employment and Training was made public. As part of this, the review identified the significance of Indigenous business in contributing to employment outcomes and economic development. As part of the recommendation, the review gave the following part of its criteria for an Indigenous business for the purposes of being eligible for tax free status as being ‘…. At least 25% Indigenous ownership and board membership….’.


How To Find The Right Networking Event For You

So you want to meet new people to network with. But where are they? And which is the right one for you?

Ideally, ask someone you know who is already networking to give you some ideas on where to network. Meet Up, for example, is an online place to find where people are meeting for different interest groups in a particular area. I strongly recommend this if you are new to anything, anywhere!

Below are some different organisations and types of ways to network.

Speed Networking | Chamber of Commerce | Business Networking Inc | Sporting Clubs | Exclusive Clubs | Industry Events | Meet Up | Art Exhibitions | School Events | Community Events and Organisations | Private or Exclusive Events | Online Forums and Communities | Social Media Linked In- Twitter- Facebook | Volunteering | Lions Club | Quota | Rotary | Seminars and Workshops | Book Clubs | Cooking Classes.

Remember, networking means different things to different people. Ask yourself the following questions

1. Who am I wanting to meet/what is my purpose? Business or pleasure? Are you wanting to meet new clients; new suppliers; new friends; colleagues from your industry; mentors; new business partners; investors; employees; people who are in a particular industry or have common interests? Don’t always assume that for business you need to go to events where only your potential clients are.

2. How many networking events do you want to attend each week or month or year? How frequently do you want to attend any one networking event? I can literally go to a networking event every day for almost every day of the year. But I wouldn’t get much work done if I did!

3. What are my limitations? Cost? Travel time/distance/location? Time to attend? Time to contribute to the organisation? Some networking events cost money to attend, not including the additional costs of meals, drinks, contributions etc. Where the event is and the time commitment to attend is also a factor. Some networking events are not just networking but also part of an organisations official meeting.

Networking is about meeting people. Don’t immediately dismiss an event because those attending are not the people you want to meet. Getting to know these people and making them a part of your network might open you to other people who you are wanting to meet.

If you want to find me, I have my “Where I Will Be” page letting people know what events I am attending for business. I also link a little blog I do on the event as well.

Personally, I use Meet Up to meet new people once a week for both the personal and professional interaction. I have made this part of my goals for 2014.

So now you can find events to network at. But what do you need to do to start networking? Find out in my next post!

~ Damien Foley

Having The Right Mindset For Success And Business

(2013.07.22) Having The Right Mindset For Success And BusinessToday I had two things happen to me that gave me two different feelings.

The first was attending a meeting as the President of the Indigenous Construction Group Australia (ICGA) to discuss some future opportunities. The meeting went well and I came out of it feeling very positive.

The second event was after attending the meeting I returned to my car to find it had been towed. Someone had removed the bollards to prevent people parking there to undertake some construction. Though I found it strange the manager had parked his car in the same area before I arrived. But I had parked where I wasn’t meant to even though I didn’t know and there was nothing to tell me otherwise. Naturally I wasn’t very happy at having to pay $350 to have my car taken out of the impound when I wasn’t at any fault!

So on the bus ride to the impound I thought about these two events. I thought about how I should be feeling. My feelings were mixed. On one hand I had a great meeting which had me feeling good. But on the other hand I had my car towed because someone had not properly secured the area to prevent me parking there or put up signs telling me not to park there, which cost me $350.

So I thought back to last night. Last night I attended a meeting with some friends of mine. We all share a common interest of investment and wealth creation. We started meeting about 5 years ago but we slowly became less involved as the global financial crisis took a greater hold and was beginning to bite into our pockets. As our first meeting, we agreed for the next two weeks we would not start looking at investment strategies. Instead we would first get our mindset right by listening to audio books on the subject.

I personally listen to people like Anthony Robbins “Awakening The Giant Within” and other business books that include creating a positive mindset. When I first listened to Robbins I thought it was just a ‘touchy feely’ approach to setting goals. I was raised that goals are achieved by hard work, not thinking about your emotions. But the more I replayed and listened to the audio book the more I took on what he was getting at.

One of the story’s Robbins tells is of Honda, the maker of Honda cars and motorcycles. Honda had a number of setbacks but he persevered until he achieved his goal. He could have given up due to any one these major setbacks. But he didn’t, he continued forward focusing on his goal. As a result he created the Honda motorcycle and car manufacturing companies we know today. Honda overcame these negative events to become a household name.

So today I had a positive and negative influence on how I would feel about the day. You know, having my car towed cost me $350. but it’s just money and I can make it back if I set my mind to it. So I am not going to let that affect how I feel. But the meeting for ICGA today will have a positive affect for not just myself, but also other people. And for that reason I can feel good about my day today!

~ Damien Foley

Public Holidays- Did You Know Labour Day for Qld Is Now In October, Not In May?

Business owners, especially the self employed,  have a lot to deal with as a business. So knowing when public holidays are coming up is generally not at the top of the priority list. But it does affect a lot of businesses, in the way of staff availability, completion of projects and jobs, planning meetings and timing of bank payments. Not knowing when a public holiday is on can be costly to business, not to mention embarrassing if you publicise the wrong date!

Here are the links for Public Holidays in each state. If you need the Queensland Public Holidays, the Justice Departments website has a great feature to the right which you can click to Subscribe to their calendar to add to yours to be kept constantly up to date with Queensland’s Public Holidays. South Australia also has the ability to be kept up to date via emails, but also subscribes you to other email notifications.

Australian States Public Holidays

Queensland Public Holidays

NSW Public Holidays

Victoria Public Holidays

ACT Public Holidays

Tasmania Public Holidays

South Australia Public Holidays

Northern Territory Public Holidays

Western Australia Public Holidays

Business Relationships

two hands shakingI recently had a meeting with the Flagstone Junior Chamber of Commerce. The question was asked “what is business about?” The most obvious answer one can give is ‘Profit’. But how do you make that profit? When you look at business, you suddenly realise the success of a business comes from its relationships. Lets look at this from the starting point of profit and work back.

We make a profit by earning more income then what we spend on expenses. Income minus Expenses= Profit/(Loss)

We spend money on expenses and capital to produce the goods and services we sell. In order to purchase those goods we need to buy them from other suppliers, be it the owner or their salesperson. In order to sell our goods and services we need to sell them to other people.

The purchase of those goods and services happens as a result of your business creating a relationship with the supplier. You may have found them online or been introduced to them through another person. Likewise, you create sales by developing relationships with your customers. (refer to the article on Customer Service- “Retail V Online- Retails Secret Weapon To Win Customers“).

Internally you have people who you employ or owners in the business with you. Externally you have relationships with third parties such as government, industry regulators and organisations etc.

The business success can depend on how good the relationship is between all of these people. And like in any relationship, good communication is important. This is why Social Media is becoming such an important tool used by business to build relationships with current and prospective customers.

Business is a creation of man and as a result is built on our social interaction with one another. If your business doesn’t have a good relationship with someone or someone doesn’t have a good relationship with your business, this can affect the success of your business.

~ Damien Foley


Retail v Online – Retails Secret Weapon To Win Customers

Folder marked "My Business Strategy To Win Customers- Private and Confidential"I recently visited a small art gallery. I asked the owner how business has been. “I have been busy but sales are slow. We have a lot of tourists come through and I can have 300 people in a day. We have them sometimes complain that I don’t speak to them but I can only talk to so many people, telling them the exact same thing. I am also competing with cheap prints from online.” There are a number of points made in this but we will look at retails greatest secret weapon- ‘Customer Service’. Customer service is what you can use to differentiate yourself from online sellers, as well as your competitors.

You might say customer service is no secret. I will give you actual examples of how it is still not being used by big business and how your business can use it to win customers.

I have a client with a business they’re about to start. I went to research bank accounts for them. Dressed in business shirt and pants, I went to 4 banks in walking distance of each other in a multicultural suburb (this is relevant). This is the following customer service I was given when asking for information;

Bank ‘A’:

– I walked in and was met by a lady dressed in a nice blouse and dress pants.

– She pulled out the relevant brochures and asked me to contact them if I had any questions.

– She was friendly and polite. I said thank you and left.

Bank ‘B’:

– I walked in and was promptly met by a lady with a friendly smile dressed in a very professional looking, neat and tidy business outfit, with blouse and scarf.

– “How can I help you today sir?” I told her I wanted some information on their business accounts as I had a client looking to start a business. “If you have the time would you like to come in to my office sir and discuss what your client needs? My name is ‘Jane'”.

– She showed me into a private office with a tidy desk and brochures lining the wall. She had me explain the business, asking what its needs were, while taking bullet point notes. She then took from the wall several brochures, marking the different facilities as she explained how each would suit my clients needs. She placed these in a clean glossy folder to hold them together.

– She then contacted another department by phone who could discuss another facility she was not trained in. On speaker phone, the call took 15 minutes to be answered. During this time the manager made small talk and brought me a glass of water. It finally answered. The manager mentioned to the operator how long we waited.

– I spoke to the customer service person who asked questions and took my email contact to send me the information.

– Returning to the business manager she asked if she could have my details to follow up later how I was going. Leaving with brochures and email to be sent, the manager showed me out with a courteous smile.

– I arrived home to the email as promised. I was called a week later by the business manager asking if I required any additional information or had any questions.

Bank ‘C’:

– I walked in and a ticket dispensing machine was my first contact. I took a ticket, sat and watched television until my number displayed 8 minutes later.

– The desk area was separated from the public seating area only by a thin shoulder high petition.

– I spoke with the customer service manager who asked me several questions. She took down the details in a form. Giving me several brochures slipped into an everyday envelope, I would be contacted by their business manager, who was out, to discuss my details further.

– I received a call the next day. He asked me several questions with his only finishing reply “well you have the brochures. If you have any questions call me.”

Bank ‘D’:

– I walked upto a lady in an open space customer service area. I was after information for a client who was about to start a business. Her reply was “We can only give you information if you have an ABN. I have some booklets but they are old and we are waiting on the new ones with the up to date information to arrive.”

– Deciding against giving me the booklet, she asked me to wait while she brought over the business manager. The business manager came over wearing an ill fitting knitted button up cardigan that looked faded and stretched. She spoke with her arms folded, pulling the cardigan across herself.

– She also told me she couldn’t give any assistance unless we had an ABN. But she did offer the booklet. The booklet was thick, in grey and white with the words “Terms and Conditions” the most visible words, marking the pages with the possible accounts to be used.

– Still standing in the open area she then asked some more questions on other facilities. She could only give me print offs from their website. I waited as she went looking for each page online to print and give me.

– In leaving, she said she could help more once we had an ABN. Then they could customise a package.


The customer service at each of these banks was very different. I left the 4 banks with first impressions. Each an impression of their customer service my clients would receive as a customer of that bank. I hadn’t even read the brochures for their fees and rates yet and I was already leaning towards a particular bank based on the service I just received.

Which bank do you think I was leaning towards- Bank A, B, C or D?

If you made a choice, remember you were making a choice based on the above service I received. You haven’t seen the fees and rates either. Customer service is incredibly important, leaving an impression greater than price alone.

What Your Business Can Do

Retail has the secret weapon of customer service. Something a website cannot offer. The lady from the art gallery meets 300 people a day. A website owner never meets the potential owner of their product, the client only has the information to read. The website owner never has the opportunity to ask questions to provide personal service. The retailer does.

So ensure customer service is a priority to you and your staff. It might not be that customer that returns for business, but a friend of that customer who has heard about your service!

~ Damien Foley


‘Sham Contracting’ – The Difference Between Employee & Contractor

'Sham Contracting' ContractWith tighter times there is more pressure on workers to get an Australian Business Number (ABN) to become contractors to get work. ‘Sham Contracting’ is where a worker who is really an employee is working under an ABN as a contractor. The worker may ask to do this for the better pay or the employer may ask for it to reduce the costs and liabilities of employment. As a contractor, you are not able to receive the benefits of an employee such as unfair dismissal as it goes to the contract agreement terms to resolve. But should you be a contractor? And what are the implications for both the worker and the employer if you do but you’re technically not?

What The ATO Says

The ATO has guidance on whether you’re an employee or a contractor. Below are some of those guidances, or click here to go to the ATO website.

1. Control Over Work: An employee is directed by their employer in how the work is to be carried out. A contractor is, per the terms of their contract, able to carry out the work as they see fit.

2. Ability to Subcontract/Delegate: An employee cannot contract in someone else to carry out the work. A contractor has the ability to subcontract the work to someone else or get an employee to do the work.

3. Basis of Payment: An employee is paid on time; or price per unit/item; commission. A contractor is paid to deliver an outcome per the agreement.

4. Equipment, Tools and Other Assets: An employees equipment, tools and other assets are supplied by the employer. The employee may provide most of their own tools but they are paid an allowance or reimbursed the cost of the equipment to do so. A contractor supplies almost all of their own tools to carry out the work. They are not reimbursed or receive an allowance for this cost.

5. Commercial Risk: Commercial risk is liability over the legal reponsibility of the work and repair or cost of any rectifications. An employee takes on little if any of the commercial risk, this is taken on by the employer. A contractor takes on all of the risk subject to the agreement.

6. Independence: An employee is not independent of the business. They work for the business and under the direction of the employer. A contractor is independent of the business with their own business. They can accept and refuse work, negotiate terms of the contract and are only obligated to carry out work that delivers the outcome of the contract agreement.

Consequences Of A Contractor Who Is Actually An Employee

If you are using someone and treating them as a contractor and they are actually an employee, you may

  • Be required to pay their supperannuation. This includes any penalties for late payment or legal liability if you are a company director.
  • Have to pay for any unpaid Pay As You Go (PAYG) Tax Instalments, including fines, penalties and interest.
  • have to pay unpaid Workers Compensation. If the person is injured at work and you have not been paying workers compensation insurance, you could face legal and financial problems.
  • Have to pay Payroll Tax on payments. This could include any fines, penalties and interest.
  • Have to pay allowances or benefits required under Enterprise Bargaining Agreements or Awards. This could include tool allowances; travel allowances; meal allowances; time and half and double time penalty rates. Plus any superannuation, PAYG Tax and or Payroll Tax on these allowances and benefits.
  • Have to accrue or pay for leave entitlments such as annual leave, sick leave, Rostered Days Off (RDO), and long service leave.

Future Changes

The Australian Federal Government has discussed possible additional conditions or tests to be met to determine if a workers is an employee or a contractor. Part of this is the introduction in 2012 of the ‘Taxable Payments Annual Report’ reporting requirements for businesses in the building and construction industry to report on contractor payments to assist the ATO to identify sham contracting.

How Does This Affect You?

The above information should not be relied upon. If you are concerned about whether you are a contractor or an employee, or if you are being asked to get an ABN to work, or you are wanting to put someone on and don’t know if they can be contracted with an ABN, then speak to your accountant; tax agent; and or legal advisor for advice.

~ Damien Foley