On behalf of the Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs, I present the committee's report entitled Report on Indigenous participation in employment and business, together with the minutes of the proceedings. I start by acknowledging where we meet today has been the meeting place for the Ngunawal and Ngambri peoples for thousands of years. I pay my respects to elders past, present and future and acknowledge the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wherever they are in Australia. The deliberations for the report tabled today were suspended with the onset of COVID-19 so that the committee could undertake a report on food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities, which was presented to this House in December 2020. The committee resumed hearings for this inquiry that we table today in February this year.
The inquiry received 85 submissions and conducted 19 public hearings. Unfortunately, although the committee understood the benefits of meeting interested parties on site to properly understand the nature of the challenges, travel was thrice cancelled due to border closures and travel restrictions. I would personally like to thank all the communities, business owners and Commonwealth departments who joined as participants to our hearings. Your assistance has helped inform the recommendations of this committee.
Current estimates suggest that here are between 12,000 and 17,000 unique Indigenous businesses across the country. The sector is diverse, from administration through to education, health, construction and ICT. The committee heard from many successful businesses, and these are detailed in our report. Our recommendations seek to build on that success and seek to encourage opportunities for Indigenous business. We heard from many Aboriginal businesses that they were proud of their businesses and of their legacy that they were leaving for their children and grandchildren.
The committee looked at Supply Nation and the support and confidence it provides. If a business or government department procures services from a listed Supply Nation business, they can be assured of the bona fides of that business. Certainly, all federal departments have met and exceeded targets for Indigenous procurement, which is why the committee has recommended a review, to build on the successes and the integrity of the scheme.
The other part of the committee's work for this report centres on growing Indigenous employment pathways and opportunities. The committee found time and time again in evidence at the hearings that there were several barriers, particularly remote locations, and these affected training, supportive workplaces and long-term job opportunities. Poor transport access, even if the jobs were available, is also an issue. The committee notes the government is currently redesigning the Community Development Program, or CDP. However, what must happen with this new design is that the needs of the communities are implemented. Any implementation must have the consent and input of these communities to ensure there is change that guarantees positive outcomes for the people who are part of the program. The views of remote communities and small labour markets must be considered when these programs are set up. Clearly a one-size-fits-all approach will not be useful or accepted. It is also important to ensure that training on country is part of any changes. This will ensure that women and girls in remote communities have opportunities to secure work where they live and not have to leave country for opportunities in larger population centres. Communities should be front and centre leading the way in changes to CDP.
In the time that is left for me today I would like to express my appreciation for all the work of the inquiry secretaries, Dr Kilian Perrem and Ms Jenny Adams, for their support and forbearance, particularly with the extra work needed to account for the continued changes during the pandemic. I also thank my fellow committee members for bipartisan support for this report, and I especially note the chair, Mr Julian Leeser, the member for Berowra, for his willingness to discuss and support our deliberations. I would also like to note that this may be the very last contribution by the member for Lingiari, the Hon Warren Snowdon. I therefore want to recognise his support and generosity to me personally to better understand Indigenous concerns. His mentorship, support and time for conversations is appreciated. But most of all, I want to recognise in Hansard his passion for his electorate and First Nations people as a whole. He will be missed when he retires.