Jawun APS Secondment Program
A strategic partnership with Jawun to support Indigenous leaders to achieve their own development goals and develop APS leadership capabilities.
Jawun, in Kuku Yalanji language of Cape York, means ‘to be a friend’. Working with Indigenous communities and leaders, Jawun facilitates long-term engagement through partnership between government, the private sector and Indigenous Australia, driving Indigenous-led change as well as 2-way transfer of knowledge and skills. Since Jawun was established, more than 3,500 government and corporate employees have lived and worked in Indigenous communities in 11 regions across the country.
In 2011, Commonwealth Government agencies started to send employees on secondment under the Jawun program. To date, over 700 APS secondees have collaboratively worked with Jawun, Jawun’s corporate partners and Indigenous organisations to support the Indigenous communities and their leaders in achieving their own development goals. In return, the APS secondees increase their cultural awareness and develop new individual skills, confidence and resilience. They bring their learnings back to the public service to keep influencing the broader system in order to achieve better outcomes for all our citizens.
To better leverage secondee expertise and relationships gained through Jawun secondments, the APS Jawun program and secondees will be involved in furthering the Closing the Gap (CTG) reform priorities.
From 2023, the APS agencies, Jawun, secondees and Jawun alumni (returning secondees) will work closely with each other to:
- increase placement options
- engage the Jawun alumni through the alumni community
- expand the pool of nominees
- open new opportunities for a broader range of employees and leaders.
The Jawun APS Secondment Program
"It was one of the most special things that has happened to me in my life. The whole concept takes you far from home to one of the world’s most beautiful places with 30 strangers. Once you arrive, you are given a really challenging project which requires you to produce results and build relationships with extremely diverse stakeholders. I would say that the key strength of the secondment is basically that it challenges you in every way possible.”
Standard Jawun secondments
The Jawun APS Secondment Program offers a 6-week secondment to high-performing, highly skilled employees at APS Level 6 and above, who are flexible, resilient and prepared to be taken out of their comfort zone to work in an Indigenous organisation.
Empowered Communities secondments
Empowered Communities is an Indigenous-led initiative that aims to increase Indigenous ownership and give Indigenous people greater say in the decisions that affect them.
Empowered Communities secondments, which run for up to 12 weeks, are offered to high-performing APS employees at Executive Level 2 and Senior Executive Service (SES) leaders.
Jawun hybrid secondment model
Jawun secondments can be either in-place or virtual. In-place secondees are placed with an Indigenous regional organisation for the duration of the secondment. Virtual secondment is through an online platform and the secondment term is based on the number of hours the secondee can commit to over the 6-week period.
Jawun APS secondments are available in 10 regions:
- Inner Sydney, NSW
- South West Australia, WA
- West Kimberley, WA
- East Kimberley, WA
- Pilbara, WA
- North East Arnhem Land, NT
- Goulburn Murray, Vic
- Lower River Murray, Lakes and Coorong, SA
- Far West Coast, SA
- Central Australia (SA, WA and NT).
Types of projects secondees work on
Placements depend on matching secondee skills with what is required by the Indigenous organisations. APS secondees have been involved with a range of projects including:
- risk assessment
- corporate governance
- data analysis
- project planning
- training and development
- business planning
- HR system development.
2023 Secondment Rounds
Dates for each round, their commencement and final nomination cut-off dates are listed below.
|Round||Commencement date||Nomination cut-off date|
|Round 1||12 February 2023||18 November 2022|
|Round 2||30 April 2023||27 January 2023|
|Round 3||23 July 2023||21 April 2023|
|Round 4||15 October 2023||14 July 2023|
Before applying, consider whether an immersive experience of this type is the right development opportunity for you. The program needs people who are flexible and can adapt quickly to changing priorities and diverse work tasks. You must be prepared to listen to the needs of the Indigenous organisation and recognise that you are there to support Indigenous leaders to achieve their outcomes.
You must have good self-awareness. You will be away from your normal support networks, sharing accommodation with total strangers and are likely to find yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s essential to know your stress triggers, and be able to ask for help when you need it.
The application process for Jawun program secondments includes interviews and matching applicants with positions.
Eligibility, applications and nominations
Who is eligible to apply for a Jawun or Empowered Communities secondment?
Standard 6-week Jawun secondments are open to high-performing, highly skilled employees at APS 6 and above, who are flexible, resilient and prepared to be taken out of their comfort zone.
Longer term secondments for 6 to 12 weeks are offered to high-performing Executive Level 2 employees and SES leaders through the Empowered Communities program.
Participants must be over the age of 25 for car insurance purposes.
How do I apply for the program?
To apply for the Jawun secondment, please contact your agency’s Jawun contact officer and ask if you can apply. If your application is successful, your agency will then nominate you for the Jawun selection process via the APSC.
Jawun then works with the APSC and Indigenous partner-organisations to place secondees. This involves aligning their individual skills and experience with each regional organisation’s priorities, and any regional preference on the part of the nominating agency.
Your agency’s Jawun contact officer can let you know about your agency’s application process and the number of nominees your agency is supporting for the year.
What are my agency’s responsibilities?
While the APSC is coordinating this program and is the key conduit for information and advice between agencies and Jawun, your home agency has several responsibilities. Your agency is responsible for its own internal selection process. It is expected that each agency selects potential secondees who are best suited to this type of immersive experience. Your agency is also responsible for:
- allocating a dedicated Jawun agency contact
- completing the internal nomination and selection process
- participating in the Jawun interview process
- arranging travel for secondees, including a travel allowance covering meals, in line with your enterprise agreement
- arranging a laptop, internet dongle and phone access for the duration of the secondment
- managing secondee Work Health and Safety (WHS) and risk matters
- supporting secondees before, during and after secondment
- reimbursing costs to Jawun, which may include: vehicle hire; fuel costs; 4WD awareness training; accommodation; some meals and other costs during induction; cultural awareness ceremonies; and incidentals.
Is the application and nomination process the same for virtual secondments?
Yes, the process is the same.
What skills are Jawun’s partner-organisations looking for?
Consider your entire skillset, not only the skills you use in your current role. Tell us about what you can do and what you have learned in past roles, whether in the public sector, private sector or in voluntary and community work. The nomination form contains more information relating to skillsets.
If I am nominated, what happens next?
Jawun uses telephone interviews to confirm placements. If you are selected for interview, the APSC will coordinate a call between you, the Jawun Regional Director and agency representatives. The interview allows the Regional Director to assess your attributes and attitudes, learn more about your skills and ensure a good fit between you and the host organisation. The interview also provides an opportunity for you to learn more about Jawun. It is important for potential secondees to be open and honest in their responses.
What happens if I am selected for a placement?
After the telephone interview, the APSC will notify you if you have been successfully placed on a secondment. After this, Jawun will send log-in details to a restricted area on the Jawun website, the My Jawun platform, which contains pre-reading, detailed information about the program and forms to complete. The completed forms need to be emailed to Jawun. There is an expectation that all pre-reading will be completed prior to the secondment. While this is happening, the Regional Director will be working with their partner-organisations to match you with a secondment brief. Once you receive your brief, you are expected to contact the host organisation to clarify your role. This may not be until a week or so before departure.
How do I know which round to apply for?
Prior to selecting a preferred round on your nomination form, take into consideration your work and personal commitments. You need to commit to Jawun for the entire duration of the secondment, so make sure you have agreement from your workplace and your family to be away for the duration of your nominated round/s. Do not nominate for a secondment round if you have any work or personal commitments at that time, such as graduations, weddings, medical appointments or work project commitments.
I have completed a virtual secondment. Can I apply for an in-place secondment?
Yes, you can apply with your agency for an in-place secondment.
I have completed an in-place secondment. Can I apply for a virtual secondment?
Alumni of Jawun are encouraged to apply with their agency for a virtual secondment.
What are Jawun secondments like?
What happens on a virtual secondment?
Virtual secondees contribute to a specific project with an Indigenous organisation, working either part-time or full-time from their home or usual workplace. The minimum commitment is 100 hours over 6 weeks.
The format of the minimum 100 hours is flexible and will need to be discussed and agreed upon by the secondee and the host organisation, in conjunction with the Regional Director. It is expected that the virtual secondment will provide flexibility in how and when secondees work to complete the brief with their host organisation.
There is flexibility in terms of how the brief is completed. As with any project, a plan should be developed to outline how and when the project will be completed, and this needs to be agreed by all – the secondee, their agency and the host organisation. The Regional Director will need to be informed of these plans.
After a virtual secondment, can I visit the organisation I worked with?
Virtual secondees can plan a visit to the secondment organisation with their agency’s approval. This, however, would be outside of the Jawun program and not coordinated or hosted by it.
What is the role of the Jawun Regional Director?
Each Jawun region has a dedicated Regional Director who coordinates secondments with Jawun’s partner-organisations. They match secondees to partner-organisations, have the final say in the selection process, and work with partner-organisations to develop project briefs for each secondment round.
Regional Directors play a pivotal role in linking secondees with their host organisations and their fellow secondees (for both in-place and virtual secondments).
The Regional Director is also the central contact point for secondees during secondment. They coordinate the induction, support secondees as they transition to the project work, and keep in regular contact. The Regional Director coordinates a debriefing session at the end of the secondment.
What happens on an in-place secondment?
You will spend up to a week in your induction, which involves learning about local Indigenous culture and meeting staff from Indigenous organisations and community members. There is usually a camping trip, and in remote regions an off-road 4WD awareness course (region dependent). Induction builds team cohesion with your fellow secondees (corporate and other APS employees) who will form part of your support network for the remainder of the secondment.
After induction, you will begin working on your allocated project with your Indigenous organisation. You will need to remain flexible about your project, as priorities often change, which means your project may change with little notice. There will be check-ins by the Jawun Regional Director and weekly updates to complete on your project. At the end of the secondment you will complete a final report and present on your progress to regional stakeholders.
What support can I expect while on an in-place secondment?
The Regional Director will be your main point of contact and will regularly check on your progress and provide support. It is expected that your agency’s Jawun contact officer and/or your manager will provide pastoral care on a weekly basis. Your agency’s Employee Assistance Program provider is also available if required.
The APSC is the first point of contact for any issues arising during secondment. The APSC will coordinate with your agency and Jawun to resolve issues. In extreme circumstances, secondments may be terminated.
Who else will I meet on an in-place secondment?
You will be placed in a group of Jawun secondees who could come from a range of corporate, not-for-profit and public sector organisations.
Three nationwide touch points during each secondment round enable secondees to connect with each other and form bonds. These include:
- a national induction, held virtually prior to the round commencing
- two national Connection Points, held virtually in Week 2 and Week 4 of each secondment.
The strong bonds that develop over the course of an in-place secondment are a hallmark of the Jawun model.
Rules and policies
What specific laws, rules or policies do I need to be aware of?
All secondees must abide by the local laws of their secondment region, including respecting dry communities, where relevant. As a general rule, you should exercise common sense and respect people’s dignity at all times. Your Regional Director will discuss protocols that apply to the region during induction. Information for each region is included in the pre-reading on the ‘My Jawun’ website, including WHS information tailored to the specific risks in each region.
You will need to abide by any restrictions placed on you by your agency as part of its WHS and risk management approach. Secondees are expected to act professionally at all times. Your behaviour reflects on you, your agency, your host organisation, Jawun and your fellow secondees. All APS secondees must abide by the APS Code of Conduct whilst on secondment.
What is expected of me after secondment?
Following your secondment, you are expected to debrief with your agency contact for Jawun and your manager. You are encouraged to share your experiences and champion the program with colleagues throughout your agency, including through meetings, information sessions, the intranet and blogs. You can elect to maintain contact with your host organisation or take on volunteer work within communities.
Do I need a COVID-19 vaccination to go on an in-place secondment?
All participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate in a secondment or any other in-place Jawun activity. This means having a double vaccination and any further booster that is required at the time of departure. All participants will be requested to provide a vaccination certificate.
Can family members visit me on an in-place secondment?
Family visits during secondment are not encouraged. Jawun is an immersive experience, and you will be encouraged to join in-place activities outside your normal working hours. In most instances, you will be living in shared accommodation, which is not conducive to family visits. Weekend reunion travel is generally not available, although you may be able to negotiate weekend travel options with your agency. You will need to take into account any directions from your Regional Director regarding specific weekend-reunion guidelines for each region.
Are there rules around weekend activities?
Given Jawun is an immersive experience you are encouraged to participate in community activities outside work hours. You can also arrange your own activities after work hours or on weekends. Activities undertaken outside of Jawun organised activities are at your own risk, and you will need to sign a release and indemnity agreement to that effect prior to the secondment. Jawun has specific rules around weekend activities and use of hire vehicles. Your Regional Director will provide advice. Your agency’s risk management plan for Jawun will also provide guidance.