Building on Solid Foundations: The potential for social participation and procurement in South Australia

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Governments around the world are seeking to leverage the local industry and employment generation potential of public procurement. South Australia has been a leader in this field through the introduction of legislation and policy requiring contractors to work with government to maximise local employment and industry participation in the delivery of publicly funded projects. This culminated in the establishment of the Office of the Industry Participation Advocate, a role that is seeking to increase the economic and social benefit to the State of public procurement through policy and program interventions. The focus of this report is on how public procurement undertaken by the South Australian Housing Trust (SAHT) and Housing SA might be leveraged for the benefit of Trust tenants through the creation of employment and training opportunities linked to this procurement.
The successful design and implementation of a program that is capable of maximising employment opportunities from procurement for Trust tenants, could help to significantly increase the labour market participation and wellbeing of tenants. According to the Productivity Commission’s Housing Assistance and Employment in Australia report, at 30 June 2013 just 20% of South Australian public housing tenants were employed compared with 71% of the overall working-age population. Research has also shown that public housing tenants are more likely to be employed in vulnerable sectors of the South Australian economy like automotive manufacturing, increasing their risk of unemployment (Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, 2006).
The Stretton Centre and Housing SA have identified a shared interest in maximizing local industry and employment opportunities that flow from investments in social housing building and maintenance programs. The Stretton Centre is a regional innovation centre located in Adelaide’s North with a specific focus on developing and supporting regional economic, industry and employment strategies in response to the manufacturing downturn. Housing SA has funded the Stretton Fellowship through the Stretton Centre to explore local employment challenges and potential for developing a coordinated approach for engaging SAHT tenants in training and employment opportunities in the region. Of particular interest is maximising the potential of housing and construction investment in this context, supported by smart procurement policies and practices.
This research paper is a product of the Stretton Fellowship and explores the potential of social housing as a driver of innovation and jobs in South Australia. Recognising that the vast majority of Housing Trust tenants are not engaged in the workforce but have significant potential to participate to a greater extent in their communities, Housing SA Participation Initiative has been introduced. The model involves engaging local participation brokers to provide direct client services including the brokering of participation opportunities and linking local services to generate positive outcomes for participants. Participation outcomes include volunteering, learning and/or earning. In particular, the initiative aims to secure opportunities through social procurement mechanisms. In this context, we are examining the feasibility of connecting Housing Trust tenants to training and
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAdelaide
PublisherAustralian Industrial Transformation Institute
Number of pages43
ISBN (Print)978-0-9942628-8-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • social participation
  • employment
  • procurement


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