Building a positive workforce through indigenous enterprise

Published on : 3/6/20
  • From humble beginnings, AAC has become a leader among Indigenous organisations, seizing entrepreneurial opportunities to deliver a wide range of benefits to the community, such as employment and investment in training.

    The Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation (AAC) was formed in 2000 to promote the interests of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Shire of Ashburton. From humble beginnings, AAC has grown to be a responsive and forward-thinking organisation delivering a wide range of services to job seekers, Indigenous communities and the broader Pilbara region.

    With its head office at Tom Price, and offices in Newman, Hedland, Onslow, Marble Bar and Perth, AAC owns and operates a number of enterprises, including Ashoil, Ashmulla Pastoral Company, Onslow Tyres and Mechanical Services and Ashburton Distribution and Logistics.

    One of AAC’s focuses is on finding and creating culturally appropriate employment, education and training opportunities for Aboriginal people in the Pilbara.

    Sodexo became involved with AAC in 2016 and has supported the organisation in the growth of its fresh oil sales and maintenance of its biodiesel production through the provision of raw materials.

    When Sodexo was requiring a mid-range bottle of water to complement its existing range of premium water products, it looked to AAC. The result was a new brand of bottled water which celebrates Indige- nous culture.


    Sodexo’s support of AAC across its businesses has produced both economic and environmental outcomes. Sodexo’s first involvement with AAC was purchasing cooking oil. Since then, Sodexo has supported AAC’s growth by connecting the organisation with its own clients in Western Australia.

    A highlight has been AAC’s sale of biodiesel to one of Sodexo’s largest clients, which has replaced the purchase of 1.5 million litres of diesel fuel over nine years, equating to a reduction of more than 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

    Having this long history with AAC, and knowing its commitment to innovation, Sodexo had no hesitation engaging AAC when sourcing a new range of bottled water in early 2020.

    The company’s pre-launch of five pallets of Yurrama Water was the boost AAC needed, with the water now supplied at Sodexo’s 38 mine sites across Western Australia. It’s expected Sodexo’s investment in the water will double in volume in the future.


    AAC is committed to supporting Indigenous youth to develop skills which enable them to contribute positively in the workplace, with each of its enterprises funding the employment programs.

    One key area of focus is supporting young people to learn skills in agriculture within the Pilbara region. The aim is for these opportunities to come ‘full circle’, meaning these men and women will contribute back in the long-term through selling product from farms back into communities or corporates. For example, last year, AAC funded the wages of a trainee on a cattle station.

    Sodexo is proud to see that sales from Yurrama Water will result in more funds invested in Indigenous employment programs, which is a vital step towards reconciliation.


    Sodexo, global leader in quality of life services, approached the opportunity to work with AAC as a partnership, to ensure a positive community impact.

    Sodexo’s support of AAC and purchase of Yurrama Water is a key action of its Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan where the company has committed to investing in Indigenous-owned businesses.

    Sodexo recognised that AAC was committed to helping people enjoy better quality of life, which is aligned with Sodexo’s mission which it strives for each day in the delivery of services.

    “An important focus for us as a business is to build long- term business connections that produce sustainable outcomes. We know that through supporting Yurrama Water and, more broadly, creating a partnership with AAC, Sodexo is enabling an increase in Indigenous employment and spend.”
    - Sean Armistead, General Manager,
    Indigenous & Community Engagement, Sodexo

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