Leading the change in social procurement

05 September 2019

Staff at the former VicRoads, Felicity Roberts, Monica Miloi and Dimi Robinson, have won the Social Procurement Champions of the Year award at the recent Social Traders Conference in Melbourne. VicRoads was one of 50 social enterprises, business and government members who entered.

Between January and June this year, VicRoads spent $2.8 million on buying services from more than 60 suppliers who employ Aboriginal people, people with disabilities and disadvantaged Victorians.

It’s shopping with a social conscience. 

They work with a grass-cutting company in Geelong that hires young people at risk of unemployment, a car washing company whose workers have mild intellectual disabilities and a firm that trains migrants, refugees and disadvantaged young people and then finds them jobs. 

You can see short films about some of these companies here. The videographers who made the clips are also employed by a social enterprise trader. 

Monica Miloi, a senior social procurement specialist, says social enterprises compete for business like everyone else but the difference is they support social outcomes and reinvest most of their profits in causes they believe in. “It’s not charity,” Monica says.

The Victorian Government launched its Social Procurement Framework last year.

Speaking at the Social Enterprise Awards, Assistant Treasurer Hon Robin Scott said in the past financial year, the Victorian Government spent $17 billion on goods and services and $12 billion on infrastructure and construction.

Hon Robin Scott said the framework empowered government buyers to see how thoughtful procurement could help people, the environment and the economy. “Value isn’t simply about the bottom line,” he said.

Transport is leading the change. Social procurement requirements were introduced on major infrastructure projects. Social suppliers are contracted to provide goods, services and works on Big Build projects. 

In the past year, the VicRoads champion team trained over 1000 people at every office in every region on what social procurement is all about. 

They are now training champions in other government departments and agencies.

Monica Miloi is excited about the opportunities to expand social procurement across the new Department of Transport. She says some social suppliers have been going for over 20 years but with the launch of government social procurement framework, the sector is really taking off. 

There are 20,000 social enterprises in Australia, employing about 300,000 people.

Monica Miloi says sustainability, social inclusion, supporting fair trade and ending “modern slavery” (exploitative manufacturing practices in a supply chain) were the next big social procurement goals. 

Ethical Clothing Australia accredits businesses and the former VicRoads had already switched to only buying uniforms from accredited, local suppliers and manufacturers



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