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Social enterprise

Victorian major project spend a significant employment opportunity

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Social Traders has welcomed the Victorian Government’s commitment to fast-track more than $1 billion worth of major building and development projects as part of the recovery from COVID-19, claiming it as a win for social enterprises Victoria-wide.

On Wednesday, State Planning Minister Richard Wynne announced that a further $933 million worth of projects had been approved as part of Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce, taking Victoria’s current development pipeline to more than $14 billion.

Social Traders Managing Director David Brookes said accessing infrastructure work was crucial for social enterprises to grow and create jobs for some of Victoria’s most vulnerable people.

“Social enterprises have a unique capacity to create jobs for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and support for these people has never been more important in the wake of COVID-19,” Brookes said.

Social enterprises from a range of sectors including builders, greeneries, caterers and cleaners have created hundreds of jobs through winning contracts on major infrastructure projects in recent years.

It’s clear that the opportunity to participate and tender for contracts on works like these is critical. It’s even more important now than what it was six months ago.

The Victorian Government is leading the way in social enterprise development, through its Social Procurement Framework, which encourages businesses to adopt social enterprise into supply chains. NSW and Queensland are also showing good leadership in this way.

That will be critical in the next wave of projects but it’s only the beginning. We need the Federal Government and private business to follow its lead and build social enterprises in procurement practices more broadly.

“Buying from social enterprise represents the greatest untapped potential in generating positive, sustainable social impact and change,” Brookes said.

Brookes said that in the past three years Social Traders Certified social enterprises collectively won approximately $220 million worth of work from business and Government buyers, driving the creation of more than 1600 jobs for disadvantaged people and a range of other community benefits.

He added that financial and impact modelling suggested that 1% social procurement target for Australia’s $265 billion national infrastructure pipeline over the next five years would create over 9,000 jobs for the most vulnerable people at risk of long-term unemployment.

“This provides a clear picture as to the size of the opportunity and it starts here in Victoria,” he said.

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