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    Working with IPS Management Consultants to build cultural safety in health

    IPS Advisory Team

    Tomorrow marks the commencement of National Reconciliation Week. A key commitment in Medibank’s Reconciliation Action Plan is establishing strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. Our partnership with IPS Management Consultants (IPS), one of Australia's leading independent First Nations-owned consultanty, is a wonderful example of what Indigenous-led businesses and corporates can achieve together to help close the health gap.

    Working with IPS Management Consultants to build cultural safety in health

    For seven years now, IPS has been providing innovative and targeted mainstream consulting services to organisations and government departments right across Australia. And through their work, they are delivering tangible outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

    Medibank first began working with IPS via its relationship with the Indigenous Defence & Infrastructure Consortium (iDiC). First partnering in 2018, iDiC supports Medibank to foster growth for Indigenous businesses by providing additional education and supply chain opportunities. It is from there that Medibank’s partnership with IPS started to grow.

    Danie Zappa, IPS First Nations Advisory Lead, said the company’s relationship with Medibank was a great case study in what Indigenous businesses and corporate Australia can achieve together.

    “It’s through growing and developing partnerships with organisations like Medibank that we’ve been able to meet the challenges and hurdles that so many Indigenous businesses face.

    “We started off doing a little bit of work and we’ve been able to grow that trust and engagement and support Medibank to continue building cultural competency within their organisation.”

    Medibank delivers health services on behalf of a government agency in Western Australia and according to Danie, the project is a great example of what Medibank, IPS and iDiC can achieve together.

    “Our role was to support Medibank’s work by delivering training to employees that builds capacity, establishes relationships and engage stakeholders across the state in a culturally appropriate manner, including engaging with Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS).

    IPS developed a program of cultural competence training and referral pathways, ensuring the support was culturally safe and appropriate.

    “The opportunity not only to build relationships and trust within the program, but also the opportunity to create an understanding of what cultural safety is within Medibank and build those capabilities and appetite to embrace cultural safety within the organisation.”

    IPS currently employs over 65 staff members, with 23% First Nations employees. The flow on effects are far reaching, not only for the employees and their families, but for the broader community.

    “We have a consultant on the Gold Coast who is supporting some of our work with Medibank and because of that we’ve been able to grow that part of our business. It’s had a profound impact for her, her family and, importantly, a positive impact on the broader community.

    “We’re not only delivering a great service, but we’re also providing long-term opportunities. The work that Medibank does through iDiC to make a lasting difference and leave a legacy is something that we can all walk away from knowing that we’ve achieved something far greater than just achieving that project successfully.”

    Feedback from clinicians who took part in the cultural awareness training was extremely positive.

    “The presenter and content was fantastic. Our clinicians found the training practical and the learnings easily applicable,” said Kylie Boreham, Head of Business Development for Medibank’s Amplar Health business.

    Addressing the misconceptions to drive inclusive tendering

    In the 2022 calendar year, Medibank spent more than $1 million with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned businesses, far exceeding their target of $725,000. This equates to approximately $4.4 million in Social Return on Investment benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

    David Fittler, Medibank Senior Executive Operations, Property & Procurement, said the team had been actively engaging employees and advocating for the value of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.

    “We all have a role to play when it comes to advancing reconciliation and helping to close the gap,” he said.

    “We’ve been encouraging our people to reach out to our procurement team so they can help ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses are included in any tenders for goods and service regardless of the size of the requirements – large or small.

    “We are also working with some of our bigger suppliers to influence their use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses as well.”

    In March 2022, Medibank launched its fifth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), reaffirming its commitment to addressing the gap in health and wellbeing outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    “Establishing strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community is a key focus area for us. These partnerships are so impactful when it comes to closing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health gap and the alignment with our RAP actions,” he said.

    To support employees through the purchasing process, the procurement team has created a 'one-stop shop' tool for finding diverse suppliers who are committed to sustainability. These suppliers can include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses and social enterprises who have specific trade objectives to positively impact people and planet.

    Medibank is committed to encouraging procurement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses via its strategic relationship with iDiC, and achieving a target spend of $1 million per annum, as outlined in its RAP.

    Organisations need to open the door

    There are close to 20,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses across Australia and according to Danie, there is a real appetite to grow.

    “First Nations businesses have been doing business longer than anyone else. That intrinsic knowledge to create great outcomes through business is phenomenal and we’re starting to see people opening the door.

    “The more that corporates can support and enable partnerships with Indigenous organisations, keep the conversation going and give them an opportunity, the better.

    “First Nations business are hungry, they’re excited, and they’re innovative because on a daily basis we have to overcome these hurdles.”

    About iDiC

    Established in 2016, iDiC is a single point deployment project and account manager, providing a diverse range of services via its consortium partners (all of whom are Indigenous owned businesses).

    These services include: facility and construction services, professional and administration services, engineering services, ICT and cyber security services, consumables, PPE, workwear, apparel, gifts, logistics and warehousing, graphics, photography, IT and telephony.

    As a supply chain aggregator, iDiC provides a channel for its strategic clients to engage with the Australian Indigenous business sector; enhancing the overall competitiveness of their supply chain, whilst fulfilling their Indigenous engagement, policy and reconciliation requirements.

    With over 120 Indigenous Supply Nation certified businesses, iDiC offers value for money, low risk solutions to its strategic clients to engage with Indigenous businesses such as IPS.

    You can learn more about iDiC and their services here.

    About IPS

    IPS is a certified majority Indigenous-owned company providing innovative and focused consulting services to meet organisational capability, business advisory, research, Indigenous advisory and project services needs.

    Learn more about IPS and their services here.

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