The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) today announced the expansion of its Reach Out Indigenous business support pilot program. The program helps Indigenous small businesses meet their tax and superannuation obligations through tailored support and education. The pilot program started in July 2018 in Townsville and Brisbane and will be expanded into New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria in 2020 as a result of a successful initial pilot in Queensland.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Andrew Watson said the pilot program is an excellent example of how a bright idea from staff can have a meaningful impact for the community.
“Reach Out was actually the brainchild of a group of our Queensland-based Evergreen Indigenous employment program participants, so we owe the success of this pilot program to their initiative and willingness to get out and about to try something new”, Mr Watson said.
“We want Indigenous small businesses to thrive. Reach Out is all about helping build sustainable businesses that will support themselves, their families and their communities.”
Through the pilot program, the ATO has already established partnerships with eleven Indigenous business intermediaries, like the Black Coffee Indigenous Business Network of small business owners who meet to discuss business issues, successes, and ideas.
Mr Watson said the program had been well received by members, with tangible results evident like improved understanding of tax and super obligations.
The ATO has delivered nine education workshops through the project so far in locations including Brisbane, Ipswich, and Palm Island with improved tax awareness a key takeaway for participants.
The ATO plans to deliver more than 130 workshops and other activities in 2020 as part of the pilot program.
Insights gained by ATO staff involved in the pilot program have also helped inform new educational products and resources to help new Indigenous businesses.
The pilot is one of several Australian Government initiatives introduced to increase economic participation of Indigenous Australians and to help more Indigenous people build sustainable businesses that will support themselves, their families and their communities. The Indigenous business sector is estimated to contribute ten billion dollars to the economy.
This program forms part of the ATO’s Reconciliation Action Plan which is all about commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.