Supplier diversity - Mainstream suppliers fact sheet

Learn how mainstream suppliers can position themselves for government work, access support and link with social benefit suppliers to meet social procurement requirements.

The Victorian Government has established Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework. The framework applies to all goods, services and construction procurement by the Victorian Government.

Mainstream suppliers

A mainstream supplier is any supplier that is not a social benefit supplier. Most mainstream suppliers and social benefit suppliers are small-to-medium enterprises. This information is for small-to-medium mainstream suppliers.

Small-to-medium enterprises

Small-to-medium enterprises are businesses that employ less than 200 people.

Victoria has more than 576,000 small-to-medium enterprises. This represents about 98% of the state’s total businesses. Small-to-medium enterprises account for almost half of all Victorian private sector jobs.

Small-to-medium enterprises can find work opportunities advertised on the Buying for Victoria Supplier Portal. They can register there to get emails when opportunities arise.

When bidding for government work, small-to-medium enterprises need to follow the instructions and templates. The bid documentation includes these. Responses need to show:

  • an ability to perform the works or services under the tender
  • that all of the evaluation criteria are met

The evaluation criteria may focus on social and sustainable outcomes.

Small-to-medium enterprises that win government work must meet all conditions of the contract. This includes any social procurement requirements.

A supplier, who is a head contractor, can engage small-to-medium enterprises on a public construction project. In these cases, small-to-medium enterprises need to negotiate a contract with the head contractor. They must perform the works or services under the sub-contract. This may include meeting social and sustainable outcomes and reporting on them.

Support is available to small-to-medium enterprises that are mainstream suppliers. This is to build their knowledge, skills and ability to win government work. This support includes:

  • Industry Capability Network
  • Small Business Victoria

Industry Capability Network

Industry Capability Network provides services that help small-to-medium enterprises access projects in Victoria.

It can introduce your business to buyers. Its aim is to increase the number of local suppliers in Victoria working on projects.

It publishes a calendar of industry events, conferences and seminars that may benefit suppliers.

Small Business Victoria

Small Business Victoria provides mentoring, and mobile and online resources for small-to-medium enterprises.

It also runs workshops for small-to-medium enterprises and provides tips for winning government contracts.

Public construction

Most public construction suppliers are mainstream suppliers. This section is for public construction suppliers that are also mainstream suppliers.

Public construction is any matter relating to the:

  • construction
  • maintenance
  • rehabilitation
  • alteration
  • extension
  • demolition

of any improvements on land by, or on behalf of, departments and public bodies.

Public construction includes:

  • design and construction practices
  • tendering processes
  • project delivery
  • contract administration

The Social Procurement Framework applies to various types of public construction contracts awarded. This includes:

  • design and construct contracts
  • design-only or construct-only contracts
  • public-private partnerships
  • alliance contracting

The Victorian Government uses registers of prequalified suppliers of works and construction services to streamline public construction procurement. For example, the Construction Supplier Register. See the list of registers used for construction.

Public construction suppliers must show how they will deliver social and sustainable outcomes that are specified in tender documents. For example, a supplier may need to provide a Social Procurement Commitment Proposal. This is to show their ability to deliver on social and sustainable outcomes.

How does the Social Procurement Framework benefit mainstream suppliers?

Social procurement is good for business. Some benefits for suppliers include:

  • organisations that tap into diverse talent pools are stronger and more efficient
  • workplaces that are diverse and inclusive are more likely to exceed financial targets achieve better business outcomes
  • diversity of thinking enhances innovation and better equips teams in identifying risks
  • diverse groups of problem solvers outperform groups of the best individuals at solving problems
  • a competitive position when bidding for government work
  • building a positive company profile and reputation
  • increasing staff engagement and retention with staff contributing to meaningful community outcomes beyond corporate social responsibility

What is expected of mainstream suppliers under the Social Procurement Framework?

Suppliers will be asked to address one or more social and sustainable outcomes in the Social Procurement Framework through practical actions.

For example, employ:

Suppliers could also subcontract social benefit suppliers, deliver environmentally sustainable outputs and business practices or progress women’s equality and safety.

How the Social Procurement Framework relates to Local Jobs First

When bidding for government work, public construction suppliers might need to address both:

  • the Social Procurement Framework
  • the Local Jobs First Policy

The Social Procurement Framework aims to deliver specific social and sustainable outcomes.

Local Jobs First drives local industry participation and employment outcomes. This includes for apprentices, trainees and cadets. Local Jobs First is comprised of:

  • the Victorian Industry Participation Policy
  • the Major Projects Skills Guarantee

The Social Procurement Framework complements Local Jobs First. Both policies contribute to local jobs directly, through employment, or indirectly, via support of local businesses. Creating local jobs for Aboriginal Victorians or people with disability meets the requirements of both policies. Providing business opportunities for local Aboriginal businesses, social enterprises or Australian Disability Enterprises also meets the requirements of both policies.

Learn more about Local Jobs First.

How public construction suppliers can connect with social benefit suppliers

Public construction suppliers can approach the following groups to connect with social benefit suppliers:

A diverse range of suppliers often attend supplier briefings or marketplace events. These events offer useful networking opportunities. Stay informed about upcoming events through these industry bodies.

Access further information about finding social benefit suppliers.

Learn more on Support for suppliers.


For more information about social procurement, contact the Social Procurement team.