Jawun: Building capacity in Indigenous communities

When IAG technical specialist Selar Rao was asked to travel to Shepparton, Victoria, to help local organisation Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation with its IT system, his first question was: “Where is Shepparton?”

Selar’s six weeks in Shepparton proved to be a formative experience. Not only did he finish his original slate of work in “about half an hour”, Selar moved Yorta Yorta’s IT infrastructure to the cloud.

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Selar’s secondment was facilitated by Jawun – an organisation that works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, businesses and government to build capacity and deliver projects led by Indigenous people.

IAG began partnering with Jawun in 2014. By the end of 2015, fifteen of our people will have completed secondments in The Central Coast of NSW, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Shepparton.

The partnership with Jawun is part of IAG’s focus on helping to boost the resilience of Indigenous organisations – although the benefits go both ways. Wayne Dagger is Jawun’s Goulburn Murray Regional Director and says many secondees believe they take more from the experience than they contribute in what is clearly a ‘win-win’ arrangement.

“Secondees get a first-hand understanding of our First Peoples and their culture,” says Wayne. “The program’s real success is that cross-sharing of knowledge and skill.”

SMOKING CEREMONY

Selar agrees. His first week in Shepparton was spent camping out and seeing “sites of importance and the culture and heritage.” Selar greatly enjoyed the nature and spiritual experiences, especially the smoking ceremonies.

Of equal interest was learning how people at Yorta Yorta worked – a style Selar says reminded him his home country of India. “It’s all about relationships. Going in with Jawun, you’re a trusted person, and that’s very important when doing business with Indigenous people.”

IAG will continue to offer twelve secondment positions each year to employees eager to assist in delivering projects that build resilience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.