The power of connection

Dear Jawun family,

Each one of you contributes to Jawun’s vision, “to foster connections and understanding between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians”.

Two-way connection is at the heart of what we do. Combined, connections add up to a powerful movement for change, where mutual understandings and meaningful relationships help create the conditions for Indigenous empowerment. 

For 20 years we’ve proudly watched Jawun connections criss-cross our nation, leading to everything from partnerships and board positions to mentoring and lasting friendships.

Our Learnings and Insights reports in 2015 and 2017 explored connections made between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through Jawun, drawing on personal stories of enhanced cultural competence, stakeholder relations and collaboration. And survey responses, while they may not capture the wealth of stories, also help us understand this:

60% of former secondees are still in touch with the Indigenous organisation they were seconded to; and 57% are involved in Indigenous-related initiatives at work or beyond. 

Jawun’s amazing Board Director Rachel Perkins is a passionate advocate of Jawun’s two-way connections, and the power they have to change our nation.

Rachel shot a short video on the cliffs of Kurnell in NSW, to inspire secondees as ‘allies of Indigenous Australia’. It begins with individuals, she urges. It’s a fantastic call to action, I encourage you to watch.

“Think about what you can do in your workplace, your community, your family, to be an ally of Indigenous Australia” – Rachel Perkins 

Today as you know, we can’t send secondees to physically live and work in Indigenous communities in the 11 regions Jawun supports across the country. Yet our ‘virtual’ program is well underway, receiving fantastic support from both Indigenous and corporate/government partners, and we are seeing how it too enables meaningful connections.

Take Sara, seconded from Curtin Uni to Gelganyem Trust in the East Kimberley. She is supporting a critical project as they transition (like so many of us) to a more digital way of working. Sara shared how empowering it is to be able to contribute her specialist skills at a time when so much else is out of our control, and how the engagement for her is ‘living her values’. Have a read of her story below, and look out for a series of these we’ll be launching on social media in the days ahead. They are proud evidence that real connections, as well as real impact, are still very much happening.

“Doing a Jawun secondment is an opportunity to meaningfully engage, learn more about culture, and contribute to positive, long term change” Sara Culverhouse

As well as virtual Executive Visits, we have embarked on a digital version of dialogue between the leaders of Indigenous and corporate/government organisations. We’ve held 7 so far, including a series of Lyarn dialogues between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women drawing on the Kimberley concept of wellbeing. I’ve been amazed at the richness of the conversation and connection of each one, and learnt so much about how each of us are adapting during these difficult times. Not just as organisations but as individuals. One thing that’s struck me is the feedback that the value of these dialogues is not just in what’s shared, but in the power of the connection.  

Finally, with restrictions and social distancing our reality at the moment (and our thoughts are with those in Melbourne in particular), we thought you might like some reading suggestions. So many amazing books come from our partner regions, below are a few of our favourites.

Keep connecting and stay safe,

Karyn and the Jawun Team 

Check out some fantastic reads from our partner regions here (click the icons to see more on each book)

Virtual secondments are live in Jawun partner regions. If you are an interested secondee and can spare 100 hours or more, speak to your Jawun coordinator or manager. We’d love to bring you on board!

Shout out to Microsoft, our fearless partner in the new world of virtual secondments. This video (7mins) shows a fantastic conversation between Microsoft, Jawun and Indigenous partners from Ceduna (SA) and the Kimberley (WA). They discuss the value of the partnership, and call on Microsoft staff to consider a secondment. It’s an inspiring watch.