Driving belief into Indigenous Australians through the FM industry
Evolve FM has been established to help drive belief into Indigenous Australians, and the facility management industry is the ideal vehicle to achieve that goal, explains company director Troy Rugless.
Evolve FM, the first Indigenous FM provider in Australia, started its inaugural contract in May this year, providing services to Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) at 15 sites around the country.
The three-year contract, which has possible extensions, involves facility and property management services, including strategic portfolio management, transaction management, contract management and maintenance management.
“[Evolve FM] is about doing the right thing by Aboriginal people and trying to give them a fair go,” Rugless, who is also founder of Pacific Services Group Holdings (PSGH), one half of the Evolve FM joint venture, tells Facility Management.
“We want to let them be masters of their own destiny – I think a lot of Aboriginal people feel they are trapped. They have grown up not seeing their parents or grandparents go to work… they are in a vicious cycle they feel like they can never get out of.
“But they can, and they are the people who put their hand up [to work with Evolve FM] – we will do anything to help these people achieve their dreams.”
The other half of the Evolve FM joint venture is global FM provider JLL, which engaged PSGH in 2013 to provide sub-contracted cleaning, security and administration services to JLL’s clients.
PSGH is one of Australia’s leading Indigenous-owned companies, employing about 60 staff nationally. Rugless and his cousin Shane Jacobs, who are descendants of the Wiradjuri Nation and grew up in Sydney, founded the company in 2011.
Having a partner like JLL has allowed both PSGH and Evolve FM to be years ahead of where it would have been otherwise with an initiative such as this, Rugless explains. He adds that the Australian Government’s contribution should not be overlooked as well.
On 1 July 2015, the Australian Government announced a new Indigenous procurement policy (IPP) designed to improve engagement of Indigenous businesses.
For the 2015/16 financial year, the government mandated that 0.5 percent of all government external expenditure must be spent with Indigenous businesses, increasing incrementally each year to become three percent by 2019/20.
“We wouldn’t be able to get here without non-Indigenous people in federal government giving us this opportunity. I hope it shows all of Australia that it works together. A non-Indigenous organisation or business and an Indigenous business can actually join to have the same vision, same ideas and can make a difference – they know it is the right thing to do as well,” says Rugless.
As part of Evolve FM’s commitment to engaging other Indigenous businesses, the fledgling company is already working with several Indigenous organisations, including the appointment of two businesses on 12-month contracts to deliver services to IBA.
“[Evolve FM] is about doing the right thing by Aboriginal people and trying to give them a fair go.
“When a call from a client comes through our team must exhaust all of our Indigenous supply chain first. We believe this is a first in our industry and we believe that this will grow the Indigenous economy quite fast,” Rugless explains.
Evolve FM chief executive officer John Owens says the formation of the company can have a genuine multiplier effect for Indigenous companies in Australia.
“Evolve FM is the only Indigenous majority-owned full service facilities management company in Australia, and we think we can make a real difference by maximising the engagement of other Indigenous businesses in our supply chain,” says Owens.
JLL’s Australasian head of integrated facilities management Chris Hunt says the strength of the relationship between JLL and PSGH over the past two years led to the development of Evolve FM.
“We saw in PSGH a passion, energy and commitment to customer satisfaction and sustainable outcomes for Indigenous Australians and the joint venture evolved from this,” says Hunt.