Indigenous businesses stand on their own merits

Two construction firms in Western Australia have merged with the view of boosting numbers of Indigenous people and contractors in the state’s construction industry while dispelling negative myths about First Nations businesses.

Marawar was only established a year ago and has merged with M/Construction, having collaborated on building a Bunnings Warehouse and refurbishing an Officeworks in WA for Wesfarmers.

Gerard Matera said Marawar, which means ‘west’ in the Nyoongar south-western WA local language, is now 50% owned by M/Group (owner of M/Construction) and aiming to become the largest employer of Aboriginal people in the state.

At present, Indigenous participation with Marawar is about 40% through apprenticeships and trainees, according to Matera.

“We are also employing Aboriginal tradies who are taking on Aboriginal apprentices, which I think is really key,” he told Business News.

He believes no other company is pairing Indigenous workers in this way, which he says makes a huge difference.

“A lot of the companies that are participating in government contracts and the private sector generally have some sort of achievement document or Reconciliation Action Plan, or some sort of guidelines that say they want to engage meaningfully with Aboriginal people on construction jobs,” Matera explained.

“But no-one is policing it, no-one is really making sure that they are engaging, and it is meaningful.”

He believes many people think Indigenous business are just awarded contracts.

“You have to be competitive and commercial and provide the right quality,” he said. “Yes, we tick a box in that we are an Aboriginal business, but you can’t be more expensive, and you can’t provide a crap service. It’s the same process.”

Lloyd Clark, managing director of M/Group, said the joint ownership of Marawar provides far-reaching benefits across the entire company.

“Marawar has not only been embraced by the Perth business sector, it has also engendered a sense of purpose without our staff environment,” Clark said. “Suddenly our work has taken on greater significance and there is a new level of pride in what we are achieving.”

Image: George Matera (L) and Lloyd Clark (R). Source: Marawar.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is the Editor of Concrete in Australia and at the helm of our magazine for 8 years. She was behind the Institute's weekly news bulletins from 2016-2021 and is now writing our focused news items. Desi has been an engineering news and features journalist/editor across all disciplines since 2013 - part of a 30-year career writing for a wide range of industries.