Indigenous-owned supply company, SupplyAus, has been working tirelessly to ensure the safety of mob on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

SupplyAus works to deliver high-quality industry-leading products and services with quality customer service. The team is working towards creating a new generation of Indigenous businesses.

Mununjali and Palawa man, Shawn Andrews, is a Managing Director, Owner and Founder of SupplyAus. Andrews also has his own organisations, Indigicate and IndigiGig.

Andrews said SupplyAus came to life about 18 months ago through him and three colleagues who shared a similar vision.

“We knew that there were issues with getting money to on-the-ground programs to people who actually do the work. We were trying to figure out what we could do to do something about that. That is when we decided to set up the company,” he said.

“We know Indigenous people are really fluid and active and really good at solving problems, so [we thought] why don’t we become a procurement company that provides solutions for other businesses?

“We had a plethora of experiences that could add a lot of value to what we were doing. That grew into starting SupplyAus, which took some time to get off the ground.”

When COVID-19 hit hard, SupplyAus was able to adapt and assist. The company partnered with supermarket giant, Woolworths, to deliver 300,000 litres of hand sanitiser to essential workers on the front line.

“We were in the right place at the right time and were able to fly in 100 tonnes of hand sanitiser for Woolworths, which isn’t bad for an Indigenous business with five-grand to its name.”

With the support and trust of Woolworths, SupplyAus was able to step up as a business.

“That was something a lot of people weren’t comfortable with, the idea of giving millions of dollars to a small Indigenous business they didn’t know or trust yet,” said Andrews.

“We were able to roll with it and it meant we could keep growing our business and keep moving forward.”

SupplyAus partnered with cleaning product company, OzKleen, to produce locally in Australia which increased supply. SupplyAus began to extend their service from front line businesses to those in the health and justice departments.

“We then started to supply Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) across the Pilbara,” said Andrews.

“Once we started getting the AMSs we then had ACCHOs reach out to us … that was when we started to supply them. We had around $50,000 worth of stock that we gifted to ACCHOs for our people.

“I think SupplyAus has given close to $80,000-$90,000 away in stock to the mob in food and things like that in this period. This is just stuff that Indigenous people do, this is our normal way of life.

“We want to show, and even to our own organisations, that Indigenous businesses like SupplyAus are here to look after our mob and work with them. We should buy from each other more often.”

With a retail store opened in Queensland, contracts and partnerships coming through, and plans to produce their own products, SupplyAus has grown exponentially since its creation.

“It’s onwards and upwards for us. We’re doing really well now in a lot of ways [but] there are still issues,” said Andrews.

“One of the big issues for us is the timing of COVID and the movement of Black Lives Matter and getting people to see what is happening here in this country. It has really started to turn the wheels of organisations that work with us a lot more. They are coming onboard in a much more authentic and ethical way.

“I get out of bed every morning to end Indigenous disadvantage. The success of our people, as a whole, I am all in on. That is what gets me out of bed and the reason why I do what I do.”

By Rachael Knowles