Strong women lead change

Dear Jawun family,

Jawun is all about connections, formal and informal. For 20 years we have witnessed the power of this as friendships have unfolded, alliances formed, and personal and professional networks grown. 

Several years ago, I realised the fantastic connections Jawun was brokering across sectors and geographies were mainly between men. Despite there being very many fantastically impressive and influential female leaders who would benefit from cross-sectoral or cross-regional allyship.

In 2015 we created Stories of Female Leadership (SoFL), and now over 250 women from community, corporate and government backgrounds have joined this unique network. They defined its vision as unlocking female leadership for a better nation.

At one of our SoFL networking events, a pre-COVID actual gathering, the incredible June Oscar AO spoke about her experiences of women driving change. It’s amazing how her powerful insights apply to this time. She talks of the need to innovate our systems so that they uphold everyone’s rights, and of raising women’s voices to make change happen. She describes how in addition to a glass ceiling, Indigenous women contend with the glass walls of a structural racism that “diminishes the humanity of this nation”. She describes the devastating over-representation of Indigenous women in prison and explains the Kimberley concept of Lyarn, so well known to women of SoFL.

Lyarn is akin to wellbeing and self-care (so valuable yet so elusive to many leaders today) and June hails it as “a national treasure that Australia can bring to the world”. There is so much to draw from her words, do spare the time to read June’s speech here

“I’ve listened to women say, we must work from the ground-up. And others say, we must transform the system first. They are both right. The ground and the ceiling must meet, and the glass walls be shattered, for our Liyan to be right.”  

June Oscar AO

Over the years, Jawun has invested in emerging female leaders, acknowledging the importance Indigenous communities place on this. Almost 100 female leaders have been connected to leadership development initiatives to date. A brilliant example is Yolngu woman Rarrtjiwuy Melanie Herdman. In 2015 Rarrtjiwuy completed Jawun’s Emerging Leaders program, and soon after became the acting CEO of Miwatj Health and a Chairperson of Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation. Last year Rarrtjiwuy relocated from Arnhem Land with her family to work with Qantas in Sydney as part of Jawun’s Indigenous Corporate Leadership program. She shared some of her fantastic stories for this podcast which I know you’ll enjoy. There is even some music from Yothu Yindi (a family connection!) to get you dancing.

Finally, Jawun’s support for strong women goes beyond our ‘leadership’ programs. At the heart of our secondments is two-way skills transfer. Nearly 2000 female secondees have been seconded to Indigenous organisations over the last 20 years, and 97% of these felt that enhanced their personal and professional effectiveness. We’ve heard so many fantastic stories of their career progression and leadership development post-secondment – you might remember a few in our Learnings & Insights report on Shared Value.

Jawun is deeply proud of the strong women in our network, from a diversity of backgrounds and sectors, who drive change.

After the success of the shopping tips in the last newsletter (which if you missed you can read again here) we are including a list of women-led initiatives you might want to support. There are some fantastic ones, from paintings and yoga mats to cultural tours, wellbeing and change management consultancies. Please support generously and share widely. 

Kind regards and stay safe,

Karyn and the Jawun Team

Take time to hear Rarrtjiwuy (Mel) Herdman, a powerful Yolngu storyteller, recall her early life in Arnhem Land and then her experiences at work and on Jawun’s leadership development initiatives. Dance with her to the beat of Yothi Yindi!

Listen to Rarrtji’s powerful story

Don’t forget Jawun is running VIRTUAL SECONDMENTS at this time. 
Interested secondees or alumni, ask your manager or Jawun coordinator.

We’ve had amazing support so far, and virtual secondments are live in East Kimberley. Huge Thanks to the partners who have taken this leap with us – we could not have done it without you.

Did you miss the previous Burnie Bean newsletter, Adapt and Innovate? Find it here