Partnering with integrity
Recently the APA entered into its first partnership with an Indigenous-owned business, Integrity Health & Safety, which provides first-aid equipment, supplies and training. A conversation with co-founder Liam Harte about the company.
Integrity Health & Safety is an Indigenous-owned company based in New South Wales, supplying defibrillators and other first-aid equipment and supplies as well as training.
The company was started by NSW paramedics Liam Harte and Brad Goodwin, both Aboriginal men.
‘We were on an Aboriginal leadership program with the NSW Government and we got to talking about where the opportunities would lie in business.
'As paramedics it made sense to do first aid and that’s where we started, initially as Integrity First Aid Training,’ says Liam, a Dunghutti man and an intensive care paramedic.
As the company grew, it expanded organically from training to supplying first-aid kits, then defibrillators.
When vaccinations were added, says Liam, the conversation moved from just first aid to workplace health and safety and the company rebranded as Integrity Health & Safety.
The company, which has been operating for eight years, now works with a number of state and federal government entities, including the Australian Taxation Office and the Departments of Defence and Health, and large corporates, including EY and Qantas, delivering seasonal flu vaccination services, providing defibrillators to workplaces and running first-aid training courses.
One of the biggest challenges for the company has been to get over external biases about the capability of an Aboriginal business and show that they can provide products and services equivalent to those of anyone else in the sector.
The introduction of Indigenous procurement policies by both governments and corporations has meant that Integrity Health & Safety has been able to work with state governments and the Australian Government as well as some of Australia’s largest companies.
‘The Australian Taxation Office was one of our very first clients and what was a small order for them was a game changer for us.
'Getting over those biases of engaging with us and having those first conversations is a big step,’ Liam says.
‘Once we start working with organisations we have a very high retention rate, where we’re almost militant with our service for our clients because people do business with people—that’s built through relationships.
'We’re not a big entity that you email and then hope somebody gets back to you.
'Often we form long-lasting relationships with our clients.’
As more Australian companies develop Reconciliation Action Plans, companies like Integrity Health & Safety have a dual role of providing the products and services required while also assisting the customer to meet their obligations to do more business with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned companies.
Liam says that forming relationships with Aboriginal Chambers of Commerce and with Supply Nation is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
‘Organisations like Supply Nation and the state-based chambers really help to lift the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, both to deliver and to be sustainable models.’
Like many other Indigenous-owned businesses, Integrity Health & Safety puts a high priority on giving back to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
The company has a social impact program aimed at closing the gap in healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
Through its social impact program, Integrity Health & Safety supports the professional development of Aboriginal and Torres Islander nurses by providing funding towards clinical and leadership courses to assist with building the healthcare capability of those nurses, especially in regional and remote communities.
They also work closely with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, supporting nurses to attend conferences and participate in their leadership journeys.
‘We support Aboriginal nurses through their clinical studies or their leadership journeys—they are two different streams of education that need support, but both are key for successful communities and for culturally safe, culturally correct care to be given in communities.
'There are a lot of studies that support better outcomes for our little ones when Aboriginal nurses provide care,’ Liam says.
‘Our social impact is really key to why we do what we do.
'To me it’s always been essential that Aboriginal advancement in health and in business should be led by us and driven by us.’
Main image: Integrity Health & Safety co-founder Liam Harte.
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